UCLG World Organization held its annual Retreat on 15-22 February 2021 under the theme ‘A Global Community that Cares.’ Every year, the whole UCLG Family meets thanks to this event and finds an opportunity to build synergies with each other. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this time, #UCLGmeets was held virtually. Successive meetings held within the scope of the Retreat 2021 were quite fruitful, gathering experiences and innovative ideas from all the members and stakeholders of the global UCLG family.

UCLG reflected the spirit of the program through the main themes set for each day of the Retreat. These themes were ‘UCLG Window of Opportunity,’ ‘Working for People,’ ‘Working for Planet,’ ‘Working for Government,’ ‘Powering a Pact for the Future,’ ‘Leading Transformation.’ On the first day, the first ever full team meeting of UCLG Secretariats provided a space to articulate the lessons taken from 2020 and the vision towards 2021, and a moment of silence was observed as a mark of respect to the late Mr. Kadir Topbaş, former mayor of Istanbul and UCLG President.

The key takeaways of the Retreat were as follows:

  • UCLG family will be a window of opportunity as a Global Community that Cares.
  • Key words guiding UCLG in 2021 will be solidarity, knowledge, and leadership.
  • UCLG should implement collective learning.
  • UCLG TV should be used actively to gather diverse voices to shape policies and programs.
  • Democracy should be reinvented and multilateral governance should be prioritized.
  • Knowledge and methodologies should be shared to foster innovation.
  • Ecological transformation should be at the center of UCLG’s approach.

As you will find the full news about it in the following pages, there was also an independent session organized for the MEWA region, where UCLG-MEWA presented the MEWA priorities to feed the global agenda for the future. In addition, research studies take an important place in the 2021 vision of UCLG. This particular vision was probed in an independent session held within the scope of the Retreat. Some strong messages given are outlined as follows:

  • Overcoming multiple challenges requires partnerships and knowledge.
  • Academia (universities) and the field (society) should be connected. 
  • LRGs and LGAs which provide access to the information directly coming from the ground are of great value.
  • Flexibility is important to understand each context and adapt the data accordingly.
  • Mutual respect for one other’s knowledge and ways of working, transparency and the commitment to co-learning are the fundamental principles of research.

In conclusion, the necessity of staying behind the screens due to the pandemic made this year’s Retreat more different than the previous retreats. Inspired by this, UCLG focused on the theme of ‘windows of opportunity.’ UCLG argues that even though the pandemic separated people physically, people can still continue to share their synergies through their screens. Accordingly, UCLG encouraged the participants to think outside of the box throughout the event, and the participants welcomed this invitation and inspired one another. UCLG Retreat 2021 closed its curtains with the UCLG Presidency meeting.

Comments are disabled