Rebeca Grynspan: Speech on the occasion of the 2nd World Forum on Local Economic Development

Oct 30, 2013

Speech for
Rebeca Grynspan
UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator
on the occasion of the
2nd World Forum on Local Economic Development,
Local Economic Development Strategies and Policies: Articulation and Implementation at National and Sub-National Level

Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil

Your Excellencies, Ministers of State from Brazil, and colleagues,

I thank the Brazilian General Director of Itaipu Binacional, Jose Miguel Samek and his team for all the institution has done as a co-organizer and gracious host of this, the Second World Forum of Local Development Agencies.

Foz de Iguacu is known for its beauty and grader, but equally so for its innovation as a common project across borders that provides energy at an unprecedented scale in ways that simultaneously advance the social, economic, and environmental objectives of localities and countries.  This is exactly what Rio+20 call for: a sustainable development path to achieve a better future for all mankind.
Itaipu Technological Park also demonstrates the innovation that can result when partners from business, government, academic and research, team- up to advance scientific and technological development.  
These are important examples of Local Economic Development, the theme of this Forum.

They are also indicative more generally of Brazil’s strategic, collaborative and integrated approach to decentralization and its articulation with national development as Minister Gleisi Hoffmann clearly explained yesterday in the inauguration.
The results have already improved the lives of many millions of people taking them out of poverty and decreasing inequalities. Today is a good day to celebrate this results in the 10 year anniversary of the implementation of Bolsa Familia, a program that has been so influential not only in Brazil but across the world.

That an overwhelming 3,000 participants have joined from more than 53 countries in this forum, is a testament to the power of organizing development from the ground up and a recognition of the increasingly important role local governments play in advancing practical sustainable development solutions.

This speaks also to the success of the 1st World Forum in Seville, Spain three years ago, in raising attention to the need to better link local, sub- national and national governments, engage citizens and advance territorial strategies.

Our task here is to build on this success. The focus on Local Economic Development is therefore no accident.

As our world becomes ever more interdependent and interconnected, the socio-political and economic landscapes of countries have grown more complex and heterogeneous making it  more difficult for very centralized public sectors to drive development in an inclusive and effective way. In this context, countries are finding that traditional top-down development strategies that are not combined with bottom up approaches have less success.

Over the last decade, UNDP has supported many countries in all regions to implement local economic development strategies.

Learning from UNDP’s work in the last 10 years, supporting countries in all regions to implement local economic development strategies, let me share with you 5 main messages starting by recognizing upfront that I will use “local” as a generic term, but local is too wide of a term, it includes very a wide spectrum of diverse and complex situations between urban and rural, big and small, developed and developing, in peace or in conflict. Having said that let me go to my 5 messages

1.    Local economic development works

What we have learned first and foremost is that local economic development works. Where done effectively, it creates jobs, facilitates the sustainable use of local resources, and generate growth, reduce inequalities and is a powerful driver in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Local economic development is not only a viable alternative but an indispensable complement to get a more dynamic and sustainable growth path. It is already estimated that by 2025, 23% of the world’s cities may be generating 65% of global growth.  Of these, 73% will be in emerging markets.
But to attract financing, increase productivity and boost competitiveness we need to invest in people.  It is healthy, educated and empowered people who drive the economies.   

2.    To Make Local Economic Development work we need to get the Governance right and the capacities in place

We have learned that getting the governance question right is key.
Local economic development succeeds where there is a clear governing framework and strong cooperation between central,  and local authorities.

To play this role, national governments need to provide local government with a framework that clarifies mandates, empowers and enables local authorities to build capacities, involve the private sector beyond micro finance schemes and generate sufficient resources to respond to the needs of its communities.
Global partnerships can also play a role, in  UNDP, through the ART initiative, we help countries establish sub national platforms that bring the private sector, civil society, academia and government (national and local) together to consider the big view, establish priorities and devise plans and strategies to achieve shared objectives. Mozambique, Lebanon, Albania and Sri Lanka are good examples of this work.
3.    Sustainability and inclusiveness are essential elements of LED

By leading participatory processes, local authorities can build a broad based consensus on the steps needed to stimulate growth and ensure development is sustainable and inclusive. Local governments need to create spaces for more citizens’ participation and involvement and systems of accountability that can help ensure citizens are heard and responded to.

This is critical because actions that aggravate inequalities perpetuate exclusion or degrade the environment undermine the stability, social trust and human security on which growth and development depend. The relationship between climate change, social progress and stability has made itself increasingly clear.
In Rio, Member States agreed that if it is not sustainable, it’s not development. And as I said yesterday we can add that if it doesn’t get to the local it is not sustainable development.

Local government’s proximity to their constituents makes it easier for them to identify and target disadvantaged or excluded populations and understand the full impact of environmental degradation and climate change. As local authorities and citizens know better than most, it is poor and vulnerable people who are most affected - not only by increasingly severe and costly natural disasters but also by the degradation of the ecosystems - that provide a safety net for  1.2 billion people,  already living in extreme poverty.

Moreover, the UNFCCC has estimated that the global cost of adapting to climate change by 2030 could be as high as $171 billion per year: this means 130% of the total ODA delivered in 2012 (that was $126bn). Local authorities will continue to bear much of these costs - in financial and human terms as they remain on the front line of efforts to conserve forests, protect water supplies, fight air pollution, defend their coastlines, and generate renewable energy.

There are many successful examples, here in the Latin American region, in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba, Ecuador or Central America.  

4.    Empowering women and promoting gender equality is a central and not a marginal task in promoting LED

UNDP views gender equality not only as an issue of human rights but as a powerful driver of local and national development.
In the context of local economic development, we have learned that four interventions are particularly important:
a.    Supporting women-led businesses
b.    Eliminating discrimination and expanding women’s ability to access to credit
c.    Intervening to respond to the specific challenges facing women entrepreneurs, and  
d.    Enabling and promoting the inclusion of women in decision-making at all levels
Women Local Economic Development (MyDEL) cooperatives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua is one such example. Started in 2007, by 2011, with the support of UNDP and through associations of municipalities, and women organizations, MyDEL had engaged thousands of women entrepreneurs in textile, agriculture, agribusiness, tourism, trade and services.

5. Harnessing south-south cooperation and make the most of next global development agenda

As most of you will be acutely aware, the success of localities today, depends on more than what happens at home.

Success today means adapting to dynamic international markets, addressing environmental degradation, and building resilience to increasingly severe natural disasters, economic shocks, and volatile markets.
In this context, it is critical to think strategically across borders, to be able to connect to new markets, generate development finance, attract foreign investment and access new technologies. To this end, global alliances and south-south cooperation can be added to the tool chest of local and national authorities alike.  
UNDP facilitates learning and exchange of knowledge and  technical cooperation between localities in the south and through triangular cooperation.

The Italian Development Cooperation, 10 counterparts in Europe and 3 provinces in Bolivia (Tarija, Oruro and La Paz) have been brought together through UNDP support to advance Local Economic Development.

Let me finish by saying that as countries seek to accelerate MDG progress and reach agreement on a post 2015 global development agenda, it is critical that they understand the potential of this collaborative spirit. I encourage you to use this Forum to identify good practices that can be showcased, establish a system for exchange on local economic development and generate an alliance that will influence the global agenda.

This Global conversation can be crucial for all of us, we need to stay engaged and push for an agenda that will be poverty centered and planet sensitive, but also an agenda that will go beyond what we call “the tyranny of the averages”, we need targets that will disaggregate the reality of the local communities and vulnerable groups, that recognizes the diversity we live in and the potential that lies in this same fact. At the end, our success will be judged on whether we inspire nations, communities, and all partners to support the concrete actions that will improve people’s lives and help create the world we all want to live in.

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