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Democratic Governance

and Peacebuilding

SDG Localization, Local and Urban Governance

Asia and the Pacific’s economic growth has been exceptional, averaging 7.5 percent per annum over 1990-2018. In comparison, the world economy grew at just 2.8 per cent. Nonetheless, Asia-Pacific is at a tipping point. While sustained economic growth has lifted over a billion people out of poverty, hundreds of millions of people continue to live in poverty, face marginalization and exclusion from development gains. In some cases, governance indicators have either stagnated or deteriorated[1] and inequalities raised with increased “pockets of poverty,” mostly comprised of marginalized and excluded sections of a country’s population.

Countries have recognized that many of the roadblocks to achieving the SDGs, such as non-income poverty and inequality, must be addressed through SDG localization and by improving local and urban governance. This requires a ‘whole of society’ approach and a transformation process (innovation) in the way that public institutions, private sector and citizens collaborate to achieve sustainable development. Hence, localizing the SDGs cannot be limited to integrating the global goals in local development plans, but must extend to strengthening local governance, including by using innovation (social and tech.) to codesign with public and private actors new service delivery models, innovative financing tools and accountability mechanisms.

Our programming offer:

I: Strengthening local governance and innovation for SDGs

Taking advantage of countries efforts to achieve SDG targets, specifically SDG 16 targets 16.6[2] and 16.7[3], the Agenda 2030 offers a unique opportunity to encourage a comprehensive approach to strengthen local governance and use innovation to deliver the SDGs in cities and at the local level.

The emphasis on local governance and innovation allows UNDP to work with national and local governments to help them innovate, strengthen their governance systems but also to enhance their capability to address mega trends and complex issues (i.e.: plastic pollution; access to water, disaster risk reduction, change in demographic patterns; urbanization; etc.).

UNDP’s Regional Offer on local governance supports: 1) local governments and municipalities to respond to decentralization and local governance challenges such as planning, budgeting, coordination and implementation, and 2) local public and private actors address complex issues in a systemic manner by using system thinking, people-centered approach and collaborative tools such as social innovation platforms[4].

II: Strengthening inclusive decision-making processes and data at the local level

Public participation, voice and disaggregated data are critical factors in strengthening local governance, specifically public accountability at the local level. Supporting public participation including strengthening the voice of most vulnerable groups by using social innovation, technology and social media is necessary for ensuring that the needs of marginalized groups are met, that evidences are supported by data and that the fundamental rights of all people are protected. This area of work is closely linked to the above areas of work and focuses on supporting civic engagement in different processes indicated above. It also looks at ‘social innovation platforms’ for engagement, data production, data comparison (i.e.: LOGOD[5]: the data visualization tool developed by UNDP-BRH) and tools for tracking resources and service delivery at the subnational level.

III: SDG localization

Effective and meaningful localization is an ambitious and complex task, as it covers a spectrum of activities from upstream policy work to local interventions at the community level.

At the level of upstream policy making, national governments create the policy, legal and fiscal frameworks, coordination systems and institutions that enable local governments at all levels to operate, innovate and forge the necessary partnerships to implement and finance the SDGs. At the subnational and local governments are critical for understanding local contexts and power asymmetries, for creating the enabling conditions for multi-stakeholder engagement (including private sector), for translating the goals and targets into implementable development and investment plans.

To ‘Localize the SDGs’, UNDP (BRH) proposes an integrated programmatic framework based on five enablers[6] (ref. figure): policy and institutional framework, data ecosystems, multi-stakeholder engagement, financing, and innovation (which cuts across all four core enablers). In essence, these enablers strengthen the environment for policy coherence and innovative collaboration between the national and local levels and between public authorities, local communities and the private sector. These enablers are particularly salient in the context of the global commitment to reach those furthest behind first and fulfil the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ for inclusive development. These enablers are applicable in various development and spatio-legal contexts along the rural – urban continuum, including the emerging smart cities context.

Contact: Patrick.Duong@undp.org

[1] WGI 2013
[2] Effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
[3] Responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making
[4] UNDP-BRH prototypes ‘Social Innovation Platforms’ with the Agirre Center and the AC4 (Colombia University)
[5] LOGOD is an SDG multi-layer data visualization tool developed for local Governments by UNDP-BRH
[6] UNDP-BRH Programming Note, 2019

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