UCLG Secretariat and PLATFORMA members became the first trainers of Learning Module 4: Localizing the SDGs through Decentralized Cooperation (DC). Between 28 April and 4 May, participants embarked on a dynamic programme taking them through the six chapters of UCLG Learning’s latest training of the trainers module, exploring the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘who’ and ‘how’ of DC and its effective implementation for the SDGs.
In the spirit of partnerships, the first day opened with an ice-breaker to encourage empathy and build curiosity for different perspectives and experiences. This laid the groundwork for developing shared understandings of DC, towards the realization of the SDGs at the local level. Participants from different continents described DC as “mutual learning”, “proximity to citizens”, “solidarity” and “reciprocity”, highlighting the already-existing alignment with DC principles. Trainees further enjoyed insightful lectures by PLATFORMA’s Boris Tonhauser, DC expert Sogen Moodley, and UCLG World Secretariat’s Jean-Baptiste Buffet and Pablo Fernández.
A particular high point of Day One was the collective dynamic ‘Build your own DC bicycle’, which introduced participants to the logic of the Module: the bicycle analogy. Here, the different bike parts represent different aspects of DC - handle-bars represent political will to pursue the 2030 Agenda; pedal types represent the different abilities to mobilize financing; the bell represents communication strategies. The bicycle analogy helps practitioners to reflect on how each aspect of DC fits together in one interconnected ecosystem - and the exercise helped participants understand how this applies to their day-to-day work.
Day Two focused on the next two chapters’ themes, ‘How does Decentralized Cooperation work in practice?’ and ‘How to design a transformative DC in line and for the SDGs: A step by step approach’. PLATFORMA’s Amandine Sabourin unpacked the different DC typologies, modalities and flows, followed by Fernando Santomauro of UCLG Learning, who highlighted the multidirectional flows that characterize DC currently. “Previously, DC centred around the transfer of aid from North to South. Today, it involves a complex variety of horizontal partnerships, reflected in Agenda 2030’s principle of Universality.” In groups, the trainers-in-training had the opportunity to apply this knowledge in another interactive exercise which asked them to unpack a specific case, identify its characteristics and discuss which SDGs it applied.
The final day explored the role of SDG 17, the key actors involved in DC policies and projects and the importance of territorial multi-stakeholder partnerships for the localization of all SDGs. “SDG 17 offers a powerful framework for collaboration, resource-sharing and empowerment through the horizontal territorial partnerships created by DC,” Johannes Krassnitzer, of UNDP-ART, explained in his lecture illustrating DC’s transformative potential. To this end, participants engaged in an in-depth stakeholder cooperation role-play which highlighted the challenges and importance of collaboration in impactful, SDG-backed DC projects.
Finally, the training gave focus on how to approach and design communications, reporting and M&E processes. “The communication strategies should start before and go far beyond the DC project”, UCLG Learning’s María Alejandra Rico emphasised. Later, Cités Unies France’s (CUF) Simoné Giovetti explained that “M&E can play a fundamental role in embedding SDG targets and ensuring that no one, and no place, is left behind”.
The training concluded on a high note, with a last team-building game focused on communication styles, and a reflection led by UCLG Learning Director, Sara Hoeflich along with PLATFORMA’s Sarah Bentz and Boris Tonhauser on participants' inputs to improve the Module and next steps to role out of the Module.