ICLEI Secretary General speaks at the 8th Global Civil Society Forum
February 07, 2007
ICLEI Secretary General Konrad Otto-Zimmermann attended the 8th Global Civil Society Forum from 3-4 February at the UN Offices in Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting was organized by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) with support from the African Council for Communication Education. About 160 participants, representing civil society organizations from around 50 countries were in attendance.
Speaking at a session on the way forward to engage major groups in the work of UNEP, Mr. Otto-Zimmermann said that while systems of local governance vary widely, ICLEI constitutes a global environmental community that fosters relationships with allies, including UNEP. Underscoring that local governments can respond faster than national governments and global mechanisms, he said that local governments can be an important strategic ally for UNEP by putting into place effective local regulations.
Stressing the potential for a “charming mutual relationship”, the Secretary General suggested developing a memorandum of understanding between UNEP and ICLEI to define mutual expectations and contributions, and to set out future common work.
Later in the two-day Forum, Mr. Otto-Zimmermann spoke at the dialogue session on globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being. Mr. Otto-Zimmermann explained the link between local authorities and globalization, observing that cities and towns are affected by globalization, as local assets, language and culture are under threat.
He described how cities are joining together to address global environmental problems such as sea level rise due to climate change, noting that many metropolises are located in coastal areas. He said that environmental change and degradation will be felt most severely by city residents, which correspondingly puts pressure on local authorities. Mr. Otto-Zimmermann concluded by calling for the promotion of self-governance at the local level.
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