World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty culminates with Rotterdam Declaration

02 Mar 2010

Biennial global meeting of mayors ends with call for greater decentralization of authority and collaboration between cities

Geneva/ Rotterdam: 2 March 2010 – The World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty ended its biennial congress on Friday with a call for more transparent, accountable, responsible and democratic governance as a precondition for overcoming poverty. It also approved the establishment of thematic centres of excellence to assist cities to share best practices and to engage in a common search for sustainable solutions in a number of sectors, including water and sanitation, gender, ITC, health, human rights and climate change.  The cities to host these centres include, respectively, Florence, Huy, Malaga, Monaco, Nantes and Rotterdam.

H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands said in her opening remarks that different global challenges need a combination of a “global mindset about commitments and local implementation of solutions.”

As UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Literacy, the Princess underscored the “shocking statistics” that could only be reduced at the local level by competent and empowered local authorities.  “More than 776 million people across the world are illiterate,” she said. “and 75 million children do not have access to education.”

“The Millennium Development Goals and solutions to the climate crisis can only be achieved at the local level,” said WACAP coordinator Mohand Cherifi.  “It is time to move beyond the rhetoric of decentralization and to empower local governments with the knowledge, resources and authority they need to reduce poverty.”

Rotterdam vice-mayor Jantine Kriens said that during de WACAP Forum the enormous potential of cities to fight poverty became clear. “A multidimensional force involving national and regional authorities, UN institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector combined in Rotterdam at the level of local authorities,” said Kriens, who also was the conference president. “It is only through this approach – which we like to refer to as the Rotterdam Approach – that it can possible to make important steps forward and improve the living conditions of women, men and children.”
 
UNDP Geneva Deputy Director Najat Rochdi, in her closing address at the forum, underlined the importance of sharing knowledge.  “WACAP has corrected the misconception that cooperation only goes from north to south,” she said. “It is true that the developed countries have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and expertise, but it is also true that a number of good practices come from the south, and have benefited other developing countries, and even the North.  This is the heart of the WACAP mission.”

In order to facilitate this sharing of knowledge, the cities of Malaga and Rotterdam, with support from UNDP, are building web based virtual knowledge platforms to reinforce coordination and synergies to promote greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between local authorities, civil society, private enterprise and academia. They are also setting up a virtual platform for the thematic centres of excellence to continue their work after Rotterdam. The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is providing training and training modules. 

At the end of the three-day conference a statement (attached, the “Rotterdam Declaration”) was issued by all delegates, calling for greater decentralization, more accountability, and, in a special expression of solidarity with Haiti, for “all local governments with the means to do so, to seek partnerships with the Haitian Authorities, in order to find suitable areas of support, through the provision of resources, knowledge, technology and expertise.”

Contact Information

For more information please visit http://www.wacap2010-rotterdam.nl/, or contact Adam Rogers, Senior Communications Advisor (adam.rogers@undp.org; +41 79 849 0679), Salwa al-Dalati, Senior Press Relations Associate, UNDP (salwa.al-dalati@undp.org; +41 22 917 85 41) or Bert Brehm, Communication Advisor for the City of Rotterdam: (+ 31 681 46 30 70 / b.brehm@bsd.rotterdam.nl).