Despite decades of decentralization discussion, most development dynamics remain disconnected, concludes Global Conference in Seville
First World Forum of Local Development Agencies concludes with call for greater focus on the local economy within a globalized world
GENEVA – 13 October 2011: The recently concluded World Forum of Local Development Agencies brought more than 1,200 participants from 47 countries to debate, discuss and deliberate on local solutions to local challenges within a global context. The outcomes will be fed into preparations for the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in December and for the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in June 2012.
Jointly organized by the Junta of Andalusia Employment Service, the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI) and the UN Development Programme, the Forum, which took place from 5-7 October, focused on the importance of local economic development (LED), local governance and on the strategic role and potential of a local approach to development.
“The attendants’ prestige, the high level of participation, and the quality of contributions brought about outstanding discussions throughout the three-day event,” said Giovanni Camilleri, coordinator of UNDP’s ART programme, which seeks to introduce greater coordination between development actors at the local level.
Camilleri said the Forum is a stepping stone in sharing local economic dynamics and partnerships, and is the culmination of collaboration between decentralized cooperation networks and the multilateral framework. “We are not proposing the creation of anything new,” he said. “but what we need is a new and innovative approach to leveraging and capitalizing on existing networks, knowledge and resources to make them more efficient and effective in responding to the needs of local communities. This is the force behind the movement to improve aid efficiency and the raison d’etre behind UNDP’s ART Programme.”
“The paradox is that we live in a globalized world, but we need local solutions,” said Manuel Recio, Regional Minister for Employment of the Andalusian Regional Government. Although globalization has led to new opportunities for many countries, for others it is responsible for low growth, low productivity and high unemployment. “What we need is a new economy based on the local dynamic.”
Cécile Molinier, Director of the UNDP Geneva Office, said in times of crisis cooperation is a priority and the added value represented by the collaboration between the multilateral framework, national and local governments and decentralized cooperation networks puts the local into a global context. “Local governance and local development are key areas of UNDP’s work,” she said. “UNDP supports local governance and local development as critical mechanisms for empowering sub‐national levels of society, to ensure that local people participate in, and benefit from their own governance institutions and development services.”
One of the main areas of support, she said, was through the creation of Local Development Agencies (LEDAs) that stimulate dialogue and consensus amid actors who, among other things, promote human development, social and inclusive economy green economy and the socioeconomic empowerment of women. Examples of the added value of this approach are numerous. In Lebanon, for example, the LEDAs are paving the road for a new public sector role in the delivery of important services and have now offered vocational training and entrepreneurial activities leading to the engagement of 40,000 youths in economic activities. “Over 150,000 people have benefited from enhanced access to public health care services, approximately 2,000 farmers and 1,200 beekeepers have received technical assistance and more than 500 small and medium enterprises will be accessing USD 10.5 Million of credit through 2011 and 2012,” she said.
Other examples include Uruguay, where LEDAs around the country have benefitted more than 1 million people, including small and isolated producers, weavers, artisanal fishermen and craftsmen in the country’s most remote areas. “And in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua the a programme for women and local and economic development is creating conditions to provide more opportunities for women’s role as entrepreneurs,” said Molinier in her opening statement. “Through Service Centers for Women's Enterprises, capacity training has been offered to over 11,000 women and over US$2 million have been raised in the programme’s Rotating Credit Fund.”
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