“We need governments that tackle the causes of poverty, empower people, are transparent, and permit scrutiny of their affairs.”
On May 30, 2013, the United Nation’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda released their report, “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development,” designed to guide the formulation of the post-2015 development goals. While the Panel does state a singular goal of increasing participatory local democracy, the crucial nature of effective and representative local governance is noted throughout the report and demonstrates the fundamental role that local governance must play in creating a better global future.
Global goals with local targets
The report recognizes the importance of setting universal goals as well as targets at the national and local levels to account for the variation in contexts and starting points in each country, somewhat of a change from the original MDGs and their focus on global level goals.
The Cross-Cutting Issue of cities and rural areas
The report highlights several issues including cities that are not directly addressed by a single goal, but are included in many of them. Cities face significant challenges in governance, urban management, and sustainable development, but rural areas must also not be forgotten. The Panel notes that “the most pressing issue is not urban verses rural, but how to foster a local, geographic approach to the post 2015-agenda.” The report advocates for the disaggregation of data by place to give local authorities a greater role in setting priorities, implementing plans, monitoring results, and involving local firms and communities.
Shift Number 4: “build peace and effective, open, and accountable institutions for all”
The report states that people desire their governments to be honest, accountable, and responsive to their needs and the report, therefore, calls for a fundamental shift to recognize good governance as essential for attaining general well being for a country’s citizens. The call made for responsive and legitimate institutions that facilitate the rule of law, property rights, the freedom of speech, political freedoms, access to justice, and accountable government and public institutions can be answered by the deepening of local participatory governance around the world. The “transparency revolution” that the report requests can be facilitated by the development of more inclusive and wide-spread participatory local governance that allows citizens to not only understand where their taxes and revenues from local extractive industries are spent, but to add their voices in equal consideration to determine these budgetary allocations as well as a myriad of other choices.
Shift Number 5: “forge a new global partnership”
This shift emphasizes the need for a new kind of partnership that involves both local and national governments as well as citizens. This partnership lays the foundation for the pursuit and attainment of the post-2015 agenda. The role of local authorities in this partnership is crucial because they serve as “a vital bridge between national governments, communities and citizens.” Local authorities contribute fundamentally to the livelihoods and well-beings of citizens across the globe in the delivery of essential public services, disaster risk reduction, and access to better housing and jobs, but these functions are only carried out effectively and to the greatest benefit of the citizens they serve when citizens themselves are able to participate in process.
Goal 10: “ensure good governance and effective institutions”
This goal again reinforces the crucial role that local governance must play in attaining the better world the post-2015 agenda hopes to create. Reminding us all of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that constitutes the foundation of human development, the report emphasizes the people-centered nature of their post-2015 agenda. People all over the world are demanding better governance from their local authorities to their national governments, that their voices be heard, and institutions that are transparent, responsive to their needs, and accountable to the citizens that they represent. The Panel notes that “accountability works best in an environment of participatory democracy” and that freedom, one of the Millennium Declaration’s six fundamental values, is best ensured through participatory governance.
You can download the full report here