Local governance and local development

 Elected woman addresses village meeting in Kanchodhar in Madhya Pradesh. UNDP supported Capacity Development for Local Governance in partnership with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj aims to enhance the leadership skills of women leaders addressing gender and other issues. Photo: UNDP/India

Local governance for the vast majority of men and women, in any country regardless of its political situation, remains the most accessible level of engagement with public authority and state institutions. It is the mechanism and channel closest to the people for accessing basic services and opportunities to improve their lives, for participation in public processes where decisions affecting their lives are made, and for exercising their rights and obligations.   

Effective local governance is key to development that is inclusive and sustainable, at the local level as well as the national. It is essential in improving the quality of life of the people both at the urban and rural settings, reducing inequality in all its forms across the society, and enhancing relations between people and public institutions.

UNDP helps countries develop an effective local governance and local development (LGLD) agenda and supports a range of efforts in a variety of contexts (rural, urban, stable and crisis-affected environments). It helps countries establish structures and systems for multi-level governance through policy, institutional and capacity development and the development of systems for the delivery of services. Also, it advocates a territorial approach and facilitates development cooperation among territories for enhancing local capacity for development.

UNDP’s approach advances an LGLD process that involves a comprehensive and harmonized provision of key inputs into local governance systems: facilitating democratic accountability, strengthening rule of law and security, building administrative capacity for development management and service delivery, enhancing fiscal resources and empowerment, equipping collection and management of spatial information, and accelerating social capital formation.

In 2014, UNDP has 274 ongoing programmes on local governance and local development in around 80 countries. The programmes focus on different aspects of LGLD, with significant support noted in such efforts as decentralization and local governance, development cooperation and local economic development through the ART Initiative, urban governance and development with a focus on the strategic use of information and communications technologies (ICTs), gender responsive local governance, governance for local service delivery, and local governance in crisis and post-conflict situation. UNDP works with global partners including United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Commonwealth Local Governance Forum (CLGF), Federation of Regional Governments (FOGAR).

UNDP has facilitated and continues to support countries and institutions in the localization of the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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