The UN Development Cooperation High-Level Forum was held in New York, from 21 to 22 July 2016, just after the High-Level Political Forum, and focused primarily on the potential of development cooperation as a lever for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (UN DCF) is the most universal structure to discuss development cooperation policies. It is a platform used by local and regional governments to advocate the importance and advantages of decentralised cooperation in development cooperation. Local governments were recognised by the United Nations DCF as key and differentiated actors from the outset.
The High-Level Forum meets every two years, gathering around 150 key experts and policy-makers, key national representatives, international organizations, philanthropic organisations, civil society and local governments.
The 2030 Agenda, a new global agenda for sustainable development, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a financing framework, were both agreed and adopted last year. Development Cooperation remains a strong pillar for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially at local level and the Forum offered a chance to discuss development cooperation for the 2030 Agenda.
UCLG was represented by Ms. Celestine Ketcha, Mayor Bagangté, Cameroon, also President of the African Women Mayors Network and UCLG Champion.
Infrastructure as a lever for development
The High-Level Forum emphasized in its preliminary session the need to build up infrastructure capacities at the local and regional levels to deliver on the SDGs. National and international actors acknowledged the efforts needed to bridge this gap between developed and developing countries to promote equitable societies. Resource allocation, investment building, and funding need to be enhanced through public-private partnerships, multi-lateral strategic partnerships, and other means to garner what is required to move forward and implement.
Mayor Ketcha underlined that viable infrastructures are essential to ensure the success of the 2030 Agenda that is owned by the local level.
"Infrastructure is an important lever for development, in particularly in Africa and where resiliency and sustainability are at the forefront. It is important for the national plan of development to enact a local plan of development because this is where everything takes places. SDGs rely on the appropriation of local involvement. Coordination between national and local is key to avoid “public gaspillage”" Mayor Ketcha
Emphasis on monitoring and capacity-building
The meeting put special emphasis on supporting national efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind. It provided a space to exchange ideas and early experience in aligning development cooperation and its institutions to the 2030 Agenda – including in the critical area of monitoring and review to strengthen quality, effectiveness and impact of sustainable development. It also took a specific development cooperation perspective to particular challenges and opportunities in South-South cooperation, private development cooperation and blended finance, and technology transfer and capacity building.
The Symposium was an opportunity to tackle the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals. Local and regional authorities are not only involved in “mutual learning and knowledge sharing” advised local leaders, but also and above all in the implementation of development cooperation.
"At local level we know what our citizens need and therefore it is only natural that we play a leading role in the elaboration of development strategies of our areas. These should be guiding for the strategies at national level and not the other way around!"
Celestine Ketcha, Mayor of Bagangté, Cameroon, and UCLG Champion
Enhancing Peer-to-Peer exchanges
The UCLG Policy Paper on Development Cooperation describes the special role of national associations of local governments. For example, the special role that these associations play in reporting to central government on the need to decentralize and on the resources needed to effectively implement policies, as well as the provision of trainings for local governments on newly acquired tasks.
The UCLG representatives made the case for a stronger and enhanced peer-to-peer capacity building between local governments associations, channeling the needs of local governments to the central level as input to the national development priorities or country result framework.
The review of progress of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda by the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) will take the work of the Development Cooperation Forum into account. The deliberations will also be used in the follow-up process of Financing for Development and contribute to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.