[18 April 2013] -- With Local Authorities increasingly acknowledged as fundamental development actors, the European Union (EU) has taken steps towards shaping a new EU policy on the role of Local Authorities in partner countries.
As part of that effort, the EU conducted a consultation with local authorities and other key stakeholders on the issue paper “Local Authorities in Development.” A new report outlines the main findings of the consultation process, which will feed into the development of the issue paper and provide input for other programming and operational guidance documents.
These findings include:
A coherent, multi-level and multi-sector international development architecture was considered crucial.
Local Authorities must be considered as co-producers of development policies and programmes, not as mere implementers of assistance.
The adoption of a participatory approach through multi-actor dialogue was paramount to most respondents. Contributions confirmed the importance of involving all relevant stakeholders in development processes.
Public-private partnership must be instrumental to promote local economic development.
Within territorial partnerships, Local Authorities were acknowledged as facilitators for economic development.
Regarding decentralisation reforms, many responses underlined the limits of having devolution laws without a concrete transfer of financial resources to Local Authorities.
Most responses emphasised the need to identify Urban Strategic Planning to allow Local Authorities to play an active role in urbanisation. The main model presented was the City Development Strategy (CDS), with an example of a Cities Alliance-supported CDS in Yemen.
Associations of Local Authorities are in some countries a relatively new phenomenon with great potential for achieving local governance and development goals.
In order to reinforce local governance and development processes at local level, the capacity of Local Authorities needs to be built and strengthened, with a focus on building leadership at local and regional levels.
- Local Authorities identified access to EU funds as the main challenge to improved EU support for Local Authorities and associations.
About the Consultation Process
The consultation process for the issue paper “Local Authorities and Development” was carried out between August and December 2012 to collect stakeholders' views on the 8 identified topics:
- Framing the Local Authorities’ role in current international debates
- Good Governance for Development: The Local Level
- Territorial development
- Support to Urban and Rural Local Authorities in a context of Rapid Urbanisation
- Associations of Local Authorities
- Enhancing the internal capacities of Local Authorities
- Towards a consistent EU engagement with Local Authorities at the country level
During the five-month period, 14 consultation sessions and events were held and 55 written contributions submitted to the Commission. One of these consultation sessions was co-organised by the Cities Alliance and the World Bank at the 2012 Urban Research Symposium held in Barcelona in October 2012.
The Cities Alliance and CDS
The EU report notes the role of the Cities Alliance in elaborating the City Development Strategy (CDS) as a tool to help cities harness the potential of urbanisation.
It references a Cities Alliance-supported CDS in Yemen (Hodeidah and Mukalla) that strengthened linkages between Local Authorities, the private sector and civil society. Based on the CDS in both cities, considerable investments were leveraged from both the national government and international development partners.
Overall, 323 different actors participated in the consultation process. Respondents represent a wide range of actors, including different tiers of Local Authorities from different geographical areas;17 Associations of Local Authorities at the national, regional and international level; civil society organisations and Central Authorities from several countries; and development partners.