UNDP ART in the 3rd Assises of Decentralized Cooperation
The 3rd Assises of Decentralized Cooperation held in Brussels on April 9-10, organized by the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission, brought together Local and Regional Authorities (LRAs) from Europe and partner countries, EU institutions and multilateral institutions to discuss the future of European decentralized cooperation. The debates stressed the key role of LRAs in driving sustainable development in a context of multi-level governance, pledged for EU support to Decentralized Cooperation to be reflected in the next EU budget and underlined the importance of decentralized cooperation in the post-2015 development architecture.
UNDP organized, through the ART Initiative, the associated seminar “Decentralized Cooperation: towards a Multi-stakeholder and Multi-level Approach”, in partnership with the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) and the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation. The event was attended by over 120 participants representing the EU institutions, LRAs from Europe and partner countries, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the multilateral framework, coming from countries such as Armenia, Belgium, Ecuador, France, Morocco and Spain.
The discussions underlined the importance of a territorial approach to development, with integrated frameworks at local level based on participatory multi-actor dialogue and multilevel governance. Participants also stressed the need of localizing the aid effectiveness principles in order to reduce the fragmentation and enhance the impact of decentralized cooperation. Another recurrent element in the debate was the political and strategic importance of cooperation among LRAs, CSOs and other territorial actors.
- The prefect of Carchi Province (Ecuador), Guillermo Herrera, stressed the importance of a territorial approach to development involving all relevant stakeholders in a society in order to shape a shared vision of territorial development. Illustrating this with the experience developed with the Provincial Government and the UNDP ART Ecuador Programme, he explained how the Provincial Dialogue Group serves as a meeting space for local authorities, members of the private sector and civil society, universities and international cooperation actors.
- Paul Ortega, Director of the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation, Basque Government, shared the experience of the Agency in mobilizing all relevant territorial actors in international cooperation, with the example of the Basque Water Agency (URA), which shares through decentralized cooperation its experience and expertise in water management with counterparts in developing countries.
- Also speaking in the event, Vincent Grimaud, Head of Unit of Aid and Development Effectiveness and Financing of the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DEVCO) of the European Commission, underlined the value of localizing the aid effectiveness principles to reduce fragmentation and enhance the efficiency of decentralized cooperation, promoting democratic ownership, harmonization at local level, alignment to national and local strategies and mutual accountability with monitoring and evaluation mechanisms including LRAs.
- Mina Rouchati, member of the Regional Council of Tanger-Tetouan, in Morocco, shared her experience in promoting a participatory approach through multi-actor dialogue, with a Regional Dialogue Group supported by the UNDP ART Programme. This kind of multi-actor and multi-level governance structure permits the egalitarian participation of local, national and international actors in discussing territorial development. Moreover, it has allowed to strengthen local governments' capacities in development planning, much needed for sub-national governments that only recently have taken up these competences. Harmonizing international cooperation remains a big challenge, although governance structures such as the “Maison du Développement”, unit located within the Tanger-Tetouan Regional Council, allow for a better coordination, increased efficiency and a greater impact of cooperation actions.
- Luc Van den Brande, Member of the Committee of the Regions, underlined the importance of multi-level coherence, as the action of territorial actors does not happen in isolation, and it therefore needs to be inserted in and inform national and global strategies.
- Finally, Charles Goerens, Member of the European Parliament, stressed the political and strategic importance of cooperation among LRAs, CSOs and other territorial actors with their counterparts, a dialogue between territories that is a laboratory for good governance and development.