Official Opening Ceremony of the UCLG World Congress, 12 October 2022
Your Excellency, President Yoon Suk-yeol,
Dear Mayor Lee and hosts of Daejeon,
Your Excellency, Ban Ki-Moon,
Dear members of the UCLG Presidency,
Dear mayors and colleagues.
Allow me to start my intervention today by thanking Mayor Lee and his team for their effort in making this Summit a reality and truly make us feel at home.
The city of Daejeon is an inspiration to the world, especially in the field of science and technology.
Your excellencies, dear mayors,
Being the Mayor of the international city of Peace and Justice The Hague, it is a great pleasure, honour and privilege to stand for you today,
I am proud that so many members and partners of the UCLG convened here today.
And, dear friends, it is at a very complex moment that we are meeting.
As we recover from the pandemic, the greatest disruption that the world has seen this century, we do so facing an uncertain future.
The pandemic, as tragic as it was, gave us a renewed sense of purpose.
Business-as-usual was and is not an option.
We need a joint effort to overcome the climate crisis, inequity and inequalities, and we need to overcome the polarization in and within our societies.
2022 has come, to many, with the realization that this vision is far from becoming reality.
This year has given way to conflict, to violence in Africa, in Europe and other regions.
Tensions have risen all over the world, and have led to moments that have truly tested us.
However, our municipal movement is not new to a world in tension.
In fact, UCLG was born very close to the outbreak of the first World War, in 1913.
Ever since we have been driven by the same ambitions: to develop a new way of governing ourselves as local and regional governments.
Addressing global challenges and opportunities through the local sphere, closest to our citizens.
Our municipal movement celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013 to see, only three years later, the historical achievement of the New Urban Agenda.
I am sure you all can remember, that in 2016 you were at the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments in Quito.
The picture taken that day, of an organized constituency that are allies for transformation, is still today a witness of our growth and a beacon of our commitment. A beacon.
We believed then, as we do now, that it is our duty to bring people together in times of conflict.
We believe in strengthening bridges between communities and building peace from the bottom-up, regardless of national tensions.
We believe that caring for our communities is the base for a renewed kind of diplomacy, one that goes beyond the international system that has been the norm since 1945.
Dear friends, dear colleagues,
The world has changed since then, and so has our movement.
It is right here and now – when our citizens feel more vulnerable and unprotected – that local and regional governments have shown their efforts to break through as one …
… guaranteeing the provision of public services, protecting rights and promoting ways of life that are inclusive, supportive, equal, and fair.
We are stronger than we were back then.
Our ambitions are global.
The municipal movement is up to the challenge.
We are ready. We cannot wait any longer.
This resolve has been the driving force behind the Pact for the Future …
our willingness to transform the social contract, to deliver a better future for People, for Planet, and for Government.
A Pact that represents our contribution to a new global governance, and a vision of a world that bridges local actions and global trends.
Bringing the territorial perspective to the global agendas.
To a feminist world that cares and guarantees equal rights for us all.
To a world driven by well-informed, critical and empowered communities. To a world based on sharing happiness and solidarity for all …
Indeed: sharing happiness and solidarity for all.
We are meeting in Daejeon, mayors, national governments, civil society, international partners, to make it happen.
To break through as one.
My colleagues in the Presidency and myself look forward to this 7th Congress as another step towards a new and brighter future.
Welcome to the heart of our movement … and that beating heart are you all.