Local Development

Local development
Photo: Adam Rogers/UNCDF


UNDP works at the local level across thematic areas, including biodiversity and ecosystem services, land, water, energy, community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (UN-REDD). Activities are guided by four Strategic Priorities:

  • Promote rights, access, and finance mechanisms: Strengthen institutional, policy, and legal frameworks to broaden local access to environment and energy resources and services, and to enable finances to flow to the local level.
  • Enhance environmental management and finance capacity: Enhance the capacity of local actors to access environmental finance and plan, implement and monitor environment and energy programmes, enterprises and service delivery.
  • Facilitate learning and knowledge-sharing: Promote peer-to-peer learning, knowledge-sharing, and documentation of best practices to make local action more effective, sustainable, and replicable.
  • Strengthen community voices in policy processes: Ensure that local actors are positioned to advocate for their rights and entitlements related to environment and energy in national and international fora.

While each Strategic Priority has a distinct scope and modality, they are all strongly correlated and interdependent, where positive outcomes in one area result in positive outcomes in the others. Where national, sub-regional and local capacity is improved, knowledge exchange both among local actors and between local actors and national policy makers becomes possible. With increased access to resources, strengthened local capacity, and facilitated learning exchanges, local actors are better positioned to influence and inform national and international policy as well as to take action locally. When local actors are able to influence policy, they can lower the barriers that limit their access to resources and institutional support, aligning local needs with global and national sustainable development targets.

UNDP carries out several strategic roles in order to achieve these priorities:

  • Local-national link: Link capacity building and empowerment of local actors with action to strengthen the enabling environment through appropriate national and international policies.
  • Convener: Convene multiple stakeholders to coordinate support for local action.
  • Social capital developer: Empower communities to enhance participatory landscape planning and adaptive management.
  • Funding facilitator: Establish long-term funding facilities that support local action.
  • Capacity builder: Build capacity and provide support services to enable the scaling up of documented best practices and innovations.
  • Communicator: Demonstrate the positive social, economic, and environmental contributions to sustainable development made by local communities and the rural poor, emphasizing the interdependency of these contributions.

Related Publications and Resources

  • Oct 15, 2009CBD: Benefit Sharing Perspectives from Enterprising CommunitiesThis report elaborates on how various communities in a range of ecosystems share the benefits derived from economic activities and how that affects their ability to meet their needs and ensure social and economic well-being. This report also focuses on inter- and intra-community equity in economic transactions by examining the management and use of biological resources.

  • COMPACT: Engaging local communities in stewardship of protected areasSep 13, 2011COMPACT: Engaging local communities in stewardship of protected areasThis publication highlights the work of Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation Programme (COMPACT) and demonstrates how community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in and around World Heritage Sites through several country cases.

  • Nov 17, 2010Draft Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in REDD+ ReadinessThis note presents guidance on the key elements of effective stakeholder engagement in the context of REDD+ readiness for the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD Programme. It outlines principles for effective participation and consultation, operational guidelines, and practical “how-to” guidance on planning and implementing consultations.

  • Engendering Access to Justice - Grassroots Women’s Approaches to Securing Land rightsJun 12, 2014Engendering Access to Justice - Grassroots Women’s Approaches to Securing Land rights

  • Environmental Justice - Comparative Experiences in Legal Empowerment Jun 12, 2014Environmental Justice - Comparative Experiences in Legal EmpowermentThis report outlines challenges and innovations arising around the world as communities and governments pursue an agenda of justice based on inclusive and sustainable use of natural resources and the environment. The paper highlights trends in strategies emerging across regions