Local Sustainable Development

A man turns the wheel of a big metalic machin working with chains and pulley
A community builds a kindergarten, Kyrgyzstan

Local governments are instrumental in the judicious use of natural resources, providing public services and creating local jobs - through land use and transit planning, building and infrastructure construction and rehabilitation, investments in energy, water and waste management, and economic development strategies: 50 to 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are influenced by local behaviour and investment choices (Charting A New Low-Carbon Route to Development ). The first to feel the impact of climate change will be local agricultural, aquaculture and tourist industries. 

One of the main obstacles to sustainable local development in this region is the unfinished decentralization reforms that left local governments without the financial resources to implement their new responsibilities. Up to 80 percent of their budget is often used for carrying out functions on behalf of the central government, such as primary education, leaving almost no discretionary expenditures. Heating schools, hospitals and other public buildings absorb an increasing share of the budget as fossil fuel energy prices increase. Local governments often have quite small populations, (for example less than 5,000 in Armenia, Turkey, and Ukraine), and many lack the resources to adopt new technologies.

In Eastern Europe and CIS, the new challenges posed by climate change must be reconciled with the remaining challenges of inclusive economic growth and accountability in governance systems. A few countries – Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova - have a high representation of women in municipal councils, but most have representation below one quarter and in some countries this is in single digits.

What we do

UNDP partners with local governments and communities to promote sustainable development at the local level, and provide greater choices and opportunities for people in disadvantaged areas. This includes:

  • Building capacities to advocate for national policies that support sustainable development
  • Integrating sustainable development principles and practices into education of municipal workers
  • Connecting local governments and communities to financing options for small investments
  • Providing tools such as green procurement, inter-municipal cooperation, or quality management systems to help small municipalities deliver public services
  • Encouraging communities to adopt new, low-cost renewable energies


After an influx of people returned to the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, UNDP helped people organize to convey their concerns to authorities and initiate development projects to improve local conditions. This participatory model worked so well that it spread to the entire country - 2,000 communities carried out 1,700 projects repairing schools, refurbishing water supply systems, improving medical facilities, and looking for sustainable energy options. An independent survey conducted in 2010 found that satisfaction with local governments was 34 percent higher in communities employing local development strategies.

More than half of the municipalities in FYR Macedonia cooperate with other municipalities to deliver better services to their citizens, including social assistance, environmental protection, tax administration, and energy management.

Communities in Kyrgyzstan helped improve local health and education services in the villages of Kuybishev, Uchkun and Kazybek in Naryn Province.