6th WACAP Forum – Athens, Greece – March 26-28, 2008
We, the Mayors and representatives of the municipalities of all the continents meeting in Athens from 26 to 28 March 2008 in the context of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty and on the initiative of the United Nations Development Programme, with the participation of the representatives of Governments, United Nations agencies, associations, foundations, financial institutions, businesses and academic circles, on the theme of local democratic governance to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals,
Following the presentations in the various sessions and the riches debates that ensued,
Subscribe the Athens Undertaking which prescribes the principles of local democracy and good governance that should guide our action in the service of our populations and states the local objectives in the context of the MDGs that we need to achieve in the fields for which we have responsibility in order to reduce poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and maternal mortality, and promote schooling for children, reverse the progress of HIV/AIDS and malaria, and protect the environment.
The principles governing local democracy and good governance
We believe that local government constituted by means of free elections is an important foundation of democracy.
We subscribe to the basic values and principles of the authority of the law, the freedom of expression, and the protection of the rights of the individual, particularly women and migrants.
We attach great importance to local democracy and good governance, to effective decentralisation, and to making citizens and communities aware of their responsibilities as means of reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
We have taken note of the fundamental connection between freedom, development and local democracy.
We welcome recent initiatives accelerating the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and increasing recognition for the role of democratic local governance in this field.
We have noted the decisive contribution that democratic local governance can make to reconstruction after natural disasters and, in another equally sensitive area, its impact on preventing and combating HIV/AIDS.
To reinforce democratic governance at the local level, we are agreed on applying the principles of good practices concerning local democracy and good governance, broadly shared during this Forum, and to ask our respective Governments and partners for technical and financial support to help us to be able to apply them at the grass-roots level.
Local objectives in combating poverty and achieving the MDGs
We are setting ourselves objectives that are quantifiable, concrete, realistic and significant in order to demonstrate our commitment and our determination to eradicate poverty at the grass-roots level.
MDG1 – Halve poverty and hunger
We are determined to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in our respective cities, ensuring at least one meal per day for the most disadvantaged families, particularly for children in school canteens, and by resolutely attacking the causes of this situation, which has reached intolerable proportions, by setting ourselves the objective of creating activities that generate employment and income, particularly by making use of micro-credit, reserved as a priority for a member of any family in a situation of extreme poverty.
We are determined to enable each person to have decent accommodation and, initially, to provide the homeless with the possibility of accommodation.
Because poverty is not only about economics and food, we undertake to encourage any initiative that promotes the participation of every citizen in the social, cultural and sports life of their local authority.
MDG2 – Provide primary schooling for all children
We shall pay particularly attention to removing the obstacles that prevent children attending school by using the municipal budget to provide free transport, school stationery, a set of writing equipment at the start of the year, and free meals in canteens for children from disadvantaged families.
We adopt as our objective zero children on the streets or working in the fields or in informal activities during lessons, involving parents in our campaign.
MDG3 – Eliminate the disparities between the sexes at every level of education
We shall combat the disparities and the discrimination that may affect the genders in education and in access to employment and responsibility, and we shall support women in a poverty situation in every possible way by dispensing appropriate assistance in administrative and budgetary terms. We shall take the necessary steps to combat all forms of violence to women, who must be treated and respected as the equals of men.
The parity indicator in the human development of our cities shall henceforth be our reference at all times.
MDG4 – Reduce infant mortality by two-thirds
Each year at the municipal level we shall adopt two key measures, with the assistance of our specialist departments:
- organising information sessions for parents on nutrition, basic health care and paediatrics for young children;
- setting up a vaccination campaign for young children.
For women with no resources, we shall ensure that free medical consultations are provided before the 7th month of their pregnancy, and that milk is provided until at least the 3rd month following the baby’s birth.
We shall combat all forms of violence and exploitation that affect children.
MDG5 – Reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters
We shall take action at the national and local level to ensure that women with no resources have free access to consultations and care in their nearest public dispensary.
MDG6 – Reversing the progress of AIDS and malaria
We are determined to play a decisive role in developing internal and external partnerships with local authorities in order to mobilise all the available resources capable of providing real responses suited to local conditions. To do this, we shall increase our involvement in devising and supervising national programmes.
We shall pay particular attention to combating all forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and exclusion affecting people suffering from STDs.
We shall promote efforts to make the population aware of the issues involved, particularly by means of annual information and awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS, and on malaria where it is present. These campaigns will cover both prevention and care, and will use all the communication channels that may be mobilised locally, including radio and television, municipal newsletters, notice boards, talks in schools, neighbourhood social and cultural associations, sports clubs and other relays in society.
We shall ensure that we take the opportunity provided by these campaigns to make an objective assessment of actual progress and the effectiveness of the means used.
MDG7 – Ensuring a sustainable environment
We support every initiative aimed at mobilising resources that allow populations to have access to drinking water and water treatment facilities, like the French local authorities that are devoting up to 1% of the resources of their water authorities and the Italian local authorities that have adopted the principle of a contribution to decentralised cooperation of 1 euro cent per cubic metre of water used, always giving priority to the theme of water and the pooling of skills and competencies, based as much on traditional knowledge as on innovation. To achieve this objective, we shall give priority to the participation of citizens from both North and South in this, mobilising the financial and human resources and the skills available within the local authorities in the North in favour of the countries in the South. Efforts should involve both the infrastructure and the proper functioning of the local structures for management and water treatment.
MDG8 – Setting up a global partnership for development
We have decided to adopt the objective of allocating 0.7% of municipal budgets to the promotion and development of decentralised cooperation in projects to implement the Millennium Development Goals.
We are agreed on introducing a digital solidarity clause in all calls for tender for goods and services in connection with information and communication technologies (ICTs). Under the terms of this clause, 1% of the amount of transactions in this field will be paid to the Global Digital Solidarity Fund which will use it for structuring community projects using ICTs as a catalyst for development.
As part of globalisation that is more respectful of human rights thanks, more particularly, to the development of decentralised cooperation and its openness to a multilateral approach, we undertake to set up an international partnership network of research and training structures and a system of communication and publications that will facilitate a discussion on practices and concepts that respects cultural and environmental diversities, involving the civil societies of their territories, in the North as well as in the South.
Implementation of these undertakings
To achieve all these objectives, in the belief that it is the territorial approach to development that is best able, by its participatory, multi-partner and multi-sector methodology, to ensure the overall sustainable coherency of all the projects for implementing the MDGs at the infra-national level, we shall call on our respective national Governments to adopt this approach and in consequence mobilise their capacity to respond to the essential needs of our populations.
For our part, we shall encourage the participation of citizens in devising multi-year strategic plans adapted to suit each local authority, indicating the desired results for each of the MDGs. We shall organise an annual assessment of the progress made. These plans should make it possible for all citizens to become involved in carrying out the actions decided on and to take their share of responsibility in this collective effort which, moreover, will promote the social mix and constitute an additional opportunity for expression and integration for the socially disadvantaged.
We consider it a priority to encourage the decentralisation process that clarifies the role of each level of power and which gives the local authorities the means of carrying out their tasks properly by giving preference to human development and reinforcing the capacity of municipal workers and officials to take action.
We are counting on the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty to:
- accompany our initiatives and, in partnership with the associations of towns and local authorities, reinforce the framework for pooling experience and good practices. The best initiatives for each objective could be distinguished by a “Millennium City Award”, for which the method of selection and the type and frequency of the award should be the subject of special regulations;
- promote the involvement of the other agencies in the United Nations system in local development;
- increase the awareness of the other global players, both public and private, which could give our initiatives their positive support.
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