Between 10th – 13th May 2016F, 8 Chief Ministers, their commissioners and chief secretaries, in presence of the Sri Lanka high commissioner, the Sri Lanka province, the metropolitan cities eThekwini and Johannesburg , the provincial government of Kwazulu Natal and the Local Government Association as well as the UNDP Art programme) gathered in Durban and Johannesburg on a learning exchange on the sustainable development goals and urban management. The Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) and the Johannesburg Innovation and Knowledge Exchange unit (JIKE) coordinated the event in partnership with the UCLG World Secretariat, and the FSLGA from Sri Lanka SALGA.
"We as provincial government leaders, recognised the critical importance of nation building, and that our responsibility for implementing the SDG is crucial. We will use the insights and learning gathered during these intense days for improving the situation of our cities and villages, that need strong and qualified local governments” was in summary the final statement from the head of the 40 person Sri Lanka delegation, Honorable Sarath Ekanayake - Chief Minister of the Central Province.
This learning initiative was a follow up on the South-South triangle learning on SDG 8 that was held by UCLG, FSLGA, UCLG-ASPAC and ILO on local economic development and decent work- understating SDG8 in December 2015 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This time, the localization of goal 11 on sustainable urbanization and goal 16 on good institutions were focus of the programme.
Around SDG 11- sustainable urbanization, the learning deepened the understanding of urban planning and management, that is attended by both metros through a variety of instrument that allow to shape and invest long and short term spatial , social and economic development , and reaches out to regional and neighbourhood scale. Further insights of the cities political and technical leaders were completed with side visits to settlements and waste management disposal in the outskirts of Durban. Urban management is a very recent in Sri Lanka, where many local and provincial government lack of planning capacity vis a vis a constantly urbanizing economy. For small and intermediary cities, the Integrated Development Plan is a very important instrument for achieving all SDG, and provincial government therefore ensured capacity and financing support to those, as the representative of the Kwa Zulu Natal province illustrated.
Around SDG 16, the performance management systems were considered as an effective way allowing solid but ambitious implementation of long and short term plans of the administration. With a clear strategy and financial performance, cities are able to expanding budget and at the same time implementing competitive and social policies, with a differentiated source of financing, including municipal bonds, as the financial strategy Johannesburg illustrated.
Between all participants, the discussion, facilitated by MILE and JIKE, became very lively and constructive. UCLG and UNDP representatives provided the conceptual umbrella on the SDG and permanent feedback that enabled this activities being perfectly aligned with the SDG localizing process and contributed to highlight the critical role of regional / provincial government for multi-governance, that is much needed for the SDG to be met. The main challenges around financing and enabling sustainable urbanization, and particularly ensuring good governance revealed the importance of provincial governments for the SDG. Even further, the 8 chief ministers confirmed the political alignment and commitment to the SDG through signing a roadmap that calls upon more involvement of all government levels and can be found here.