By Robel M. Tamirat in Participatory Local Democracy
The Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments is a collective voice that has recently been advocating for the indispensable role of local and regional government leaders and their global organizations toward the realization of the SDGs, the post 2015 UN Development Agenda and the shaping of the “New Urban Agenda” of United Nations which will be agreed at Habitat III in 2016.
The key factors the Task Force deems to be crucial for the realization of the SDGs are localizing the targets and indicators, and ensure that local and regional governments have the financial capacity to contribute towards the achievement. The Global Task Force recently issued their standpoint on the upcoming 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from July 13 – 16, 2015. The conference is expected to “result … an intergovernmental-ly negotiated and agreed outcome, which should constitute an important contribution to and support the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.”
A briefing from the Global Task Force notes that the pre-conference documents focus on international, national, public and privates finances, rather than raising the question of financial devolution to the local and regional levels. Local and regional territories are necessary levels for national and international development policies to be carried out and measure impact, yet too often central governments do not devolve financial autonomy despite capacity to lead and take ownership for SDG initiatives.
“The Third International Financing for Development Conference will not reach its objectives without devoting attention to local financing and containing recommendations related thereto.”
It is crucial that the upcoming conference in Addis Ababa recognizes the inalienable role of local and regional governments for the realization of the SDGs and other future development initiatives, and deliberate on strategies to grant them increased access to and control of finances.Future bilateral and multilateral official development assistance (ODA) that bypasses local and regional governments can affect the future of 2.5 billion new urban residents over the next three decades, mostly in developing countries.
The Global Task force published specific strategies aimed at strengthening the long term financial capacity of local and regional governments. These strategies equip them to lead, own and sustain the SDGs and the post 2015 UN Development Agendas. They also explore ways to help local governments tap into both domestic and international finance resources. The first strategy, Strengthening the Mobilization of Domestic Resources, has two sub categories: reforming local financing, and unlocking land values to finance urban infrastructure. This strategy explores ways for local governments to gain access to finance through more tax rights and revenues from value added land. The second strategy, Strengthening Long Term Financing in Infrastructures and Basic Services, argues for “access to long-term financing to cover investment needs” through loans from various financial institutions (both domestic and international).
In Conclusion, unlocking the capacity and potential of local and regional governments to yield sustainable development relies on an increased recognition of these governance systems in the planning processes and execution of development initiatives via financial allocation and control.