Local governance and development
For most citizens across the region, local government remains the most accessible level of government. It is the most direct way for people to access basic services, to participate in public processes, and to exercise their rights and obligations.
Effective local governance is at the heart of all efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Local governments can make a huge difference when it comes to increasing the quality of life of people in both urban and rural settings, reducing inequalities across society, enhancing relations between people and public institutions and providing a platform for the voices of minorities.
While decentralization legislation and policies exist in many countries, fiscal responsibilities have remained centrally controlled. In many cases, local governments are not financially equipped to manage their services. On the other hand, continued fiscal centralization is often justified by weak capacities at the local level.
UNDP works throughout the region to improve local governance and strengthen local democracy by:
- Building local capacity to implement the SDGs and anticipate and respond to emerging development challenges such as migration, urbanization and environmental degradation;
- Encouraging the active participation and engagement of civil society, the private sector and the public in local decision-making processes and in holding governments accountable;
- Enabling effective, innovative, data- and evidence-based planning and monitoring at the local level; and
- Helping central governments to develop strategies and plans to devolve power to local governments.
For example, the largest decentralization reform process in the region is currently underway in Ukraine. UNDP has also supported territorial administrative reforms in Albania, where it helped re-design public service delivery mechanisms. In Georgia, UNDP, together with the EU, has assisted the government to adopt the National Rural Development-Action Plan 2018-2020 which will be implemented in close cooperation with local action groups.