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Seoul, 5 Nov 13

Seoul skyline by night© Seoul Metropolitan Government
Seoul skyline by night© Seoul Metropolitan Government

Over 300 participants from 83 local governments and close to 50 partner organisations converged for the Regional Network of Local Authorities (CITYNET) Seoul Congress 2013 which kicked off on Monday.

In his welcome address the mayor of Seoul Mr. Park Moon-soon said: "I invite you to brainstorm innovative solutions for common challenges that Asia is facing. CITYNET Seoul Congress 2013 is a wonderful opportunity to prepare your city for the future."

At the CITYNET Seoul Congress, attendees are expected to network and connect with other urban stakeholders from a wide variety of fields. By working together on common challenges and learning from each other’s experiences, participants will leave with a deeper understanding of ways that cities can develop sustainably with a people-centered focus. Of the approximately 250 participants who will be participating in this event, about 50 of the attendees are mayors while the rest are planners and high officials and policy makers from city and municipality levels. to brainstorm innovative solutions In her key note address, Mariko Sato of UN-Habitat likened CITYNET to a daughter, who has over the years been supported by many friends: UN-Habitat, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"With over 25 years’ experience, CITYNET has expanded her outreach and has a very active network of urban stakeholders in the region. CITYNET has been bringing the voices of the local authorities in the region to key international events and conferences, her success being awarded with the Habitat Scroll of Honour in 2002 for outstanding contribution in promoting south-south co-operation."

Mrs Sato said the ongoing congress was an opportunity to provide new direction and to reaffirm commitment from partners to continue to support adding that it was time for cities and member states to elaborate on the new urban agenda. She stressed that this is the opportunity for local governments and their associations to participate and influence the international decision-making process, building on Rio +20 outcomes on the Future We Want and the debate on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

She lamented that global agenda are decided without sufficient reflection of local voices, even though much of the implementation will happen at the local level. Firstly, she said, the voices of the local governments need to be heard and one of the vehicles is to engage in the global initiatives such as the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA), which provides an opportune platform in which cities and local governments can influence both the Post-2015 and Habitat III processes.

"Secondly, the Global Task force of local and regional governments will take forward the messages from the city level for the post-2015 development agenda. Thirdly, regional consultations in preparation for the Habitat III conference and national Habitat Committees are seeking your good practices to report," she said.

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