Reflections on the Importance of LED for Post-2015

Side Event of the 7th Session of the Open Working Group on SDG’s: Local Economic Development for Sustainable Territorial Development

UN Headquarters, New York, 8th January 2014

As member states assembled in the 7th Session of the Open Working Group of the Sustainable Development Goals to discuss sustainable cities, human settlements, and related topics, this side event provided an opportunity for local and national authorities, local and regional government associations, and UN organizations to explore how practical country experiences with local economic development (LED) may inform the design of the post-2015 global development agenda. The co-hosts of the side event were the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWOMEN), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Andalucian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Regions United/FOGAR, and ITAIPU Binacional.

Representatives of the co-hosting organizations agreed that LED concerns may be reflected in the SDGs by mainstreaming the local dimension, where appropriate, across all goals and targets using indicators disaggregated by geographic location. Furthermore, they highlighted ways in which LED would be useful in implementing the future development agenda, since LED effectively:

  • Integrates social, economic, and environmental dimensions
  • Provides an effective developmental governance structure
  • Focuses on enterprise development and job creation
  • Prioritizes social inclusion, women’s empowerment, and peace and stability
  • Operates on a functional scale for achieving sustainable development
  • Facilitates innovative finance for development

While local economic development (LED) is rooted in a decades-long history of theory and practice in both developed and developing countries, never has there been a more pressing demand to fully explore and understand different models of LED and scale up best practices. This is reflected in growing international interest in LED. The 6th Commonwealth Local Governance Conference (CLGF) resulted in the 2011 Cardiff Consensus for LED, identifying LED as a key concern for local governments.  In the same year, the 1st World Forum of Local Development Agencies in Seville raised attention to the need to better link local, sub-national, and national governments and advance territorial development strategies.  In 2013, the 7th CLGF Conference took aim at informing the post 2015-agenda in producing the Kampala Declaration on Developmental Local Government and the Munyonyo Statement on local government’s role in the post-2015 development agenda. The 2nd World Forum of LED followed later that year in Foz de Iguaçu, generating unprecedented exposure and global dialogue around LED and proposals for a more permanent global coordinating mechanism on LED. 

This side-event added to the momentum, strongly affirming the importance of LED in meeting the goals of the future global development agenda.  In follow up to the side event, attendees committed to:

  • Actively participate in the upcoming global consultation on localizing the post-2015 global development agenda facilitated by UNDP.
  • Articulate the importance of LED through initiatives such as the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for the Post-2015 Development Agenda towards HABITAT III.
  • Work towards more effectively coordinating LED policies and initiatives, building on interest galvanized by the First and Second World Forum of LED and preparing for the Third World Forum to be held in Turin, Italy 2015.  
  • Actively engage national governments in constructive dialogue to make the post 2015 framework and national development agendas responsive to local needs and priorities. 
  • Work towards systematizing results and experiences on LED to enhance information and institutional knowledge sharing among diverse LED stakeholders and partners.

These commitments were outlined in the Conclusions of the side event, open to the public and accessible on Teamworks here. The full report, including an overview of speeches, presentations and conclusions is also available here.