Local governance

Photo: UNCDF / Adam RogersPhoto: UNCDF / Adam Rogers

Building stronger communities

Sub-national institutions constitute one of the most important avenues for poor people, women and minorities to participate in the development of their communities and influence the decision-making processes that are directly relevant to their lives.

Important opportunities for poor people, women and minorities to participate in the development of their communities are to be found in local and regional institutions of governance.

A new generation of democratically-elected local leaders is creating change, acting as catalysts for development and facing new challenges. UNDP focuses its work in local governance on strengthening the inclusiveness and accountability of sub-national governments, ensuring they have the capacity to manage the opportunities and responsibilities created by decentralization and devolution.

At the sub-national level, local institutions reflect great differences in history, culture, capacity, infrastructure, styles and practices. Responsive to this diversity, UNDP focuses its support in four priority areas:

  • Local governance for improved service delivery and MDG acceleration. Most basic services for citizens are provided by local governments. The aim is to improve their ability and capacity to become better administrators, raise revenue and deliver high-quality services to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.
  • Local governance for state- and peace-building. Government can promote peace and reconciliation at the local level. They can build consensus through dialogue, promote trust, and integrate conflict prevention into programmes and services.
  • Local governance and democratic representation. As local leaders engage with marginalized groups and promote accountability, inclusion and participation, the representation of citizens will enhance democracy.
  • Local governance and environmental sustainability: UNDP works to develop robust local governance systems, capable of addressing the challenges posed by climate change, environmental sustainability and disaster risk reduction.

Our work also addresses access to information, integrity, accountability, transparency, human rights, gender equality, leadership and critical choice capacities, sectoral governance and knowledge management. Many local governance initiatives focus on women and indigenous peoples, often in places where local governance is still taking shape.