Getting the Engagement of Local Institutions in the UN Development Agenda Post-2015
Wherever living standards are high, local governments have played, and continue to play, a major role in their achievement – often the primary role. This can be seen in the wide range of responsibilities they have for infrastructure and services. They also generally have key roles in ensuring health and safety in buildings and enterprises, in disaster prevention and preparedness and in engaging with citizens and civil society. The pivotal involvement of local governments in implementing and ‘localising’ the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is rarely recognised or acted on by national governments and international agencies. This is also the case for much of the discussion on post-2015 sustainable development goals. The UN system and the official aid agencies and development banks fail to understand and thus to support the contributions of local governments, and even to acknowledge them as stakeholders. The focus is on goals and targets and not on who has to be empowered and supported to ensure these are met.
There is a need to rethink goals and targets so that these focus on universal provision of basic services, on building local government capacity and commitment to such goals ensure their achievement, and to work with citizens and civil society in order to do so.