Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) organized a consultative meeting on 29-30 September 2014 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It gathered Ministers, Senior Ministry Officials/Secretaries, Local Government Associations’ Presidents and Secretary Generals, as well as UNDP representatives, other regional partners of the Commonwealth and high level decision-makers responsible for local government in South Asia. The meeting aimed to share and exchange good practices on decentralization and Local Economic Development (LED) as well as to identify common regional priorities in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.
Several UCLG ASPAC’s members such as Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities (FSLGA), City of Colombo, Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB), Local Councils Association of the Punjab-Pakistan (LCAP), and Local Councils Association of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan (LCA-KPK) attended and participated in the discussion regarding appropriate regional mechanism of LED as well as strategies to build regional local government forum in South Asia. Strategic services manager of UCLG ASPAC Secretariat also joined the meeting and delivered her presentation on the partnership for better governance in ASEAN. Highlighting the need of twinning amongst local government, she shared some lesson-learned from the DELGOSEA program including its advocacy activities to ASEAN Secretariat. The presentation was found useful as it could be used as the reference for the group discussion during the meeting particularly on the strategies to advocate SAARC in building regional platform of local governments.
Having discussed the regional cooperation and LED, the meeting has drawn several conclusions, which were:
- Informal economy has shown its important role in supporting economic growth in the region. Therefore it shall be taken into account in planning and implementation of LED schemes.
- Local governments need to create a positive environment to enable private sector to involve in the development.
- National governments should support local governments in implementing LED through establishing policies, clear division roles and responsibilities between each governments, and adequate funds for local governments.
- Marginalised groups should also be empowered and included in the economic development in addition to have a holistic approach of LED.
- Local governments need to set up a regional platform in SAARC to be involved in the decision making process.
- Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is needed to ensure the recognition of local governments’ role in the implementation of the goal.