Workshop “Mayors Leaders for Change Workshop”
Speech by Anders Knape, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities and Vice-President of the Congress
15 December 2015 Kyiv (Ukraine)
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I extend the congratulations already presented by Mr Bozouls to all the recent elected mayors that are here with us, today.
Yesterday, we celebrated, in Kyiv, the 30th anniversary of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Charter), an international binding treaty, which is the cornerstone of local democracy in Europe and was ratified by all 47 Council of Europe member States.
I’d like to take some time to refer to some of the Charter’s main principles:
In my capacity of Thematic Rapporteur of the Congress on consultation of local authorities, I would also like to say a few words on this key principle of the Charter.
Consultation is a vital feature of the decentralisation process, and is instrumental to the good functioning of the multi-level governance. Associations of local and regional authorities are a cornerstone of the consultations between national governments and local government units.
As in many other aspects of local democracy, consultation does not come naturally; all stakeholders involved need to meet each other and to engage in real dialogue. This is the reason why we believe that mayors need to be empowered so as to effectively contribute to the design of policies which concerns their communities.
Engaging citizens is another key element of good governance. It is part of the Preamble of the Charter and has been reinforced by the Additional Protocol on the right to participate in the affairs of local authorities. Ukraine has showed its commitment by ratifying it, in September 2014. I join my voice to those that have welcomed this ratification. This is also a major responsibility of yours to keep a lively dialogue with citizens to take into consideration their needs when deciding. This will vital to enhance their trust in the public authorities.
I am addressing you in my quality of President of the Chamber of Local Authorities and Vice-President of the Congress and, therefore, I would like to take some time to present the Congress. Our organisation is the Council of Europe’s assembly of local and regional representatives, a political and consultative body of 324 territorial delegates who hold an elected mandate in the 47 member states.
The main role of the Congress is to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Charter, which is verified through the monitoring mechanism of the Congress. In addition, the Congress carries out observations of local and regional elections so as to ensure the integrity of electoral processes at local and regional level, as it was the case for the elections of May 2014 and October 2015 in Ukraine.
We have recently engaged in post-monitoring dialogue with the national authorities concerned and co-operation activities to improve the implementation and impact of Congress recommendations.
In this respect, Ukraine was the first member state to engage in such a dialogue and to agree on a roadmap for the implementation of Congress Recommendation 348 (2013) This roadmap was signed by the President of the Congress and Hennadiy ZUBKO, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development.
Co-operation activities aim to support the implementation of the principles of the Charter and to develop the competencies and institutional capacity of local elected representatives (women and men). We have designed the project “Promoting local democracy in Ukraine” with an integrated approach where we address Mayors, councillors and young local leaders who constitute the main actors of local democracy, in our towns and cities.
This workshop is an example of the peer-to-peer work with the participation of Congress members and Ukrainian Mayors who will exchange best practices. With the interactive sessions we hope to create an enabling environment that will allow you to freely address common concerns and share ideas for enhancing your daily practice.
What do we expect that you take back to your communities from this seminar?
A mayor who feels comfortable in his/her role and responsibilities is a mayor that provides better services to the population. A mayor with enhanced leadership and communication skills is a mayor that grasps the local needs, communicates clearly his/her options and justifies them before the citizens. A mayor as a leader for change is a mayor that engages with all stakeholders when looking for solutions for local problems.
We, elected officials, live in times of a deficit of credibility and legitimacy. Indeed, one of our responsibilities is to be a role model, to be someone that citizens can look up to, to be their voice. We, at local level, have a prominent role to bring change in our territories. You, as mayors have to send a strong signal that you uphold ethics and the fight against corruption as the cornerstones of your mandate.
I do hope that this workshop, with the participation of several Congress Members (Dutch, Polish and Ukrainian) will be inspiring and that it is a good opportunity for the creation of lasting ties between peers. It is also an opportunity to exchange ideas, learn from each other and expand networks of peers throughout Europe. I have been a Congress member for a long time and I benefit from these exchanges too.
I wish you all a good workshop and I am keen on listening to your discussions, to your feedback as practitioners.