The Power of Local Action: Learning from Communities on the Frontlines of Sustainable Development

06 Jun 2012

Some of the clearest examples of sustainable development can be seen at the local level in community-driven initiatives centered around the sustainable use of local ecosystems.  In the last 20 years, UNDP has compiled an impressive archive of cases that reveal the kinds of development outcomes that can be achieved and some of the key factors in their achievement.  The many successes we can point to in community-centered development provide the realization in practice of the promise of sustainable development put forward at Rio 20 years ago. They are the proof of concept of the ideals of development that promotes the social and economic well-being of communities as well as the health of ecosystems.  

This publication reflects on two decades of development experience at the local scale and maps out how this work will be expanded and integrated into the future.  Among the programmes profiled are the UNDP implemented GEF-Small Grants Programme, the Equator Initiative, and the Community-Based Adaptation Programme.

The publication covers the history and scope of UNDP’s local sustainable development work, the central role of local organizations in achieving and sustaining development gains, the power of the environment as a platform for rural development and local empowerment, the importance of local good governance, the opportunity of localizing the MDGs, the ability for scaling to bring landscape-level transformations, the enabling conditions needed for local action and scaling, and what is needed to support successful local solutions going forward.    

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