Cities Alliance Operational Structure Establishes during the Initiation Phase (2015-2016)

The main result of the initiation phase is the formulation of the operational structure which consists of the four following key pillars:

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  1. The Cities Alliance is the overarching organizational body, membership based.

  2. The Cities Forum is an annual conference which gathers mayors and senior representatives from member cities and institutions. It discusses and provides guidance to the work of the Business Council and the various specialized committees.

  3. The Business Council is a committee established with special focus on promoting business collaborations between private sector entities from member cities of the Cities Alliance.

  4. The Specialized Committees are multi-stakeholder committees established to organize and conduct sector-specific activities based on demands of the member cities and institutions.


Full-fledged Project Phase (2017-2021)

1. Goal

The overarching goal of the Cities Alliance is to “facilitate the building of partnerships for development and trade and investment at the city level, to assist countries [in] tackling their social and economic development challenges”.  The full-fledged MCSR Cities Alliance project seeks to further align its support to the five priority areas of the “Belt and Road Initiative” namely policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bond. One specific focus of the full-fledged phase is to facilitate formulation, coordination and consolidation of sectoral action plans and projects in a green economy, smart city, tourism, culture, trade and investment, among others.

Building on the achievements of the initiation phase, the Cities Alliance will reprofile as a global platform to facilitate regional and inter-regional South-South and triangular exchanges at the city level towards achieving sustainable development.

The Cities Alliance will focus on sharing knowledge and strengthening public institutions, capacities and institutional mechanisms so that participating cities can adequately address their development challenges.

South-South cooperation modality will be adopted in the management of the project. The project will be guided by principles of South-South cooperation including respect for national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, mutual benefit and demand driven.

The project has been developed using a demand-driven approach. The Cities Alliance will be responsive to the needs of participating members, including any local, national, or regional development frameworks.

Since cities in participating Southern countries are the primary contributors and beneficiaries, it is envisioned that they will take ownership of the project and set the overall agenda. A strengthened Cities Alliance apparatus will only support exchanges and terms of cooperation that abide by these principles.

The project will focus heavily on engaging support and building partnerships through a multi-stakeholder approach. It will bring together actors from a wide range of sectors—the United Nations system, national and local governments, civil society, and private sector.

The following proposed activities will be conducted in line with above:

  • Expand membership base of the Cities Alliance.
  • Pool of knowledge, expertise and resources from members to address development challenges.
  • Redesign the Cities Forum to enable the sharing of policies, programmes and knowledge; and improve the management and operation of the Forum.
  • Business Council focuses on boosting trade and investment between cities in line with the goal of the Cities Alliance.
  • Demand-driven specialized committees bring together experts to develop plans for action. These multi-stakeholder plans will enable cities to collaborate and share experiences to address specific sectoral and cross-sectoral development challenges.

2. Operational Modality 

The full-fledged phase will operate according to the structure established during the initiation phase.

  • At the request of the Government of China, UNOSSC, through the direct implementation modality (DIM)., will act as a coordinating body and facilitate implementation.
  • The Cities Alliance Secretariat, based in Beijing, will manage day-to-day operations. UNOSSC in New York will oversee and support the Secretariat, with support from the UNDP country office in China.
  • As the project continues to expand, UNOSSC Regional Offices, UNDP country offices, and other UN entity in-country teams will be engaged to support various initiatives and activities.
  • With more countries participating, the proposed SSC project modality that applied to the project will allow multiple implementing partners.

3. The Key Pillars of the Cities Alliance

  • The Cities Alliance
    The Cities Alliance is the overarching organizational body, membership based.
  • The Cities Forum
    The Cities Forum is an annual conference which gathers mayors and senior representatives from member cities and institutions. It discusses and provides guidance to the work of the Business Council and the various specialized committees.
    It is anticipated that agreements on business, trade, development and cultural exchanges will be signed as the result of the conference. More follow-up activities will be facilitated.
  • The Business Council
    The Business Council was established in the initiation phase focusing on promoting business ties and contracts between private sector firms in the Cities Alliance. As of 2016, it comprised 25 group members, 36 individual members, and 21 observers.
  • Group members are industrial and/or commercial groups such as chambers of commerce.

  • Individual members are entrepreneurs and executives in major business associations or enterprises.

  • Business Council Observers are organizations or individuals who have obtained approval from the Business Council chairman to attend meetings. After a one-year term as an Observer, organizations or businesses can apply for Business Council membership via nomination of the General Director.
  • Specialized Committees
    The Secretariat will facilitate the establishment of specialized committees which are multi-stakeholder bodies established to organize and conduct sector-specific activities based on demands of the member cities and institutions.
    Members of the committees will be responsible for mobilizing financial and other resources to support the activities and initiatives envisioned in their action plans.
    The committees are encouraged to work together to develop cross-sector plans, and sector specific action plans. Sectoral action plans are expected to result in tangible cooperation agreements. When an initiative was incubated and implemented, a task-specific working group will be established to manage the project.

4. Financial Modality

  • Project funding is allocated to support the operation of the Cities Alliance Secretariat. This includes operational support, project management costs such as monitoring and evaluation, capacity building activities, and small seed funding for the development of sectoral action plans.
  • Project funding will also support selected activities formally submitted by the specialized committees and approved in the Project Annual Work Plan.
  • The host city will be responsible for costs associated with hosting the annual Cities Forum.
  • The Business Council and the specialized committees will mobilize resources to support their operation and the activities envisioned in their action plans.
  • UNOSSC will support resource mobilization efforts in collaboration with partners.

5. List of Established and Preparatory Specialized Committees

Established Specialized Committees:

  1. Business Council;
  2. Education, science and culture;
  3. Sports and Outdoor Activity;
  4. Smart cities and emerging industries;
  5. Investment and trade;

Preparatory Specialized Committees (pipelined to be established)

  1. Tourism;
  2. Environmental protection, renewable energy and climate change;
  3. Financial markets;
  4. Information and communications technology;
  5. Logistics and infrastructure;
  6. Traditional medicine and health;
  7. Green industrial development;
  8. Sustainable urbanization; and
  9. Peace and development.

This list may be reduced in the future if committees fail to gain active membership or produce results, or it may be expanded as new themes emerge.

The terms of reference for each specialized committee will be developed and agreed by the proposing entity, and main partner institutions; and will be submitted to the Secretariat for review and approval. Two to three representatives of the specialized committees will serve as rotational members of the Project Board.

6. Highlight Activities from the Specialized Committees 2018 Workplans

Business Council:

  • participate in the preparation of the 4th China Quanzhou Maritime Silk Road International Brand Expo and organize its 3rd Chairperson Meeting;
  • Organize cultural and tourism exchanges with Chamber of Commerce of Iran;
  • Organize study tours to Tianhong Industrial Zone in Gunagning Vietnam, and to Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia; and prepare case studies for good practices and lessons learned during project implementations.

Sports and Outdoor Sports Specialized Committees

  • Establish Silk Road Sports Academy
  • Promote youth exchanges in sports

Science, Education and Culture Specialized Committee

  • Silk Road Culture Heritage project
  • promote creative economy
  • Organize Maritime Silk Road cultural exchanges and Youth Cultural Exchanges
  • Set up Silk Road Academy
  • Promote environmental protection
  • Appoint goodwill ambassadors

Smart City and Emerging Industry Specialized Committee

  • Uzbekistan Industrial Zone project
  • Partner with cities in Pakistan
  • Bavaria-Chongqing Smart City Cooperation Forum
  • Silk Road Smart City and Emerging Industry International Academy
  • A case study of Chongqing urban-rural development model

Investment and Trade Specialized Committee

  • Set up project database
  • Set up cross-border e-commercee export industrial zone

Traditional Medicine Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • Establish specialized committee in traditional medicine
  • MCSR Traditional Medicine Cooperation International Seminar

Financial Market Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • MCSR Financial Market Forum and Launching Ceremony

Logistics and Infrastructure Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • Organize “Belt and Road International Logistics Summit” and Specialized Committee Launching Ceremony
  • Establish in Mongolia “China Mongolia and Russia logistical information center" jointly organize with Mongolia and Russia in Irkutsk, Russia “Transit Mongolia 2018” forum

Information and Communication Technology Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • Build Virtual Belt and Road
  • Research on E-governance and smart city from overseas

Think Tank Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • Organize “Belt and Road Think Tank Seminar”

Environment Protection Preparatory Specialized Committee

  • Carbon trade report and City Carbon Trade platform 

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