As we start the pivotal year of 2015, we celebrate the completion of the pioneering investment by the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in building our global community of practice. I invite all of us to reflect on these past two years – what has been achieved by this project – and how we can build on it for the future.
Here is my Top 10 List of the accomplishments of this project:
- Created the first-ever global database on comparable data in participatory local governance, collected in five languages – English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
- Published the first-ever global studies on participatory local governance, published in four langauges: English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
- Empowered 34 civil society organizations in 32 countries to host multi-stakeholder meetings, including minister-level governmental representation in many of them.
- Launched the reports on the first day of the UN General Assembly, in partnership with the Government of Mexico in 2013 and with the Ford Foundation-funded LogoLink network in 2014.
- Working with like-minded networks and coalitions, ensured that local governance was included in the Post-2015 agenda.
- Formed working partnerships with other networks on local governance. LogoLink, RedLad, Alda-Europe, OpenGovHub, UCLG, Local First, and the World Movement for Democracy.
- Provided a sustainable home to the bibliographic database on local democracy formerly hosted by the Dutch government but dropped during budget cuts.
- Built a vibrant, global community of practice of more than 5,800+ practitioners in 90+ countries.
- Created a regularly updated website for the community, containing more than 1,809 blog posts and 110 static pages (including standardized country profiles of 59 countries).
- Formally presented the findings at the EU, World Bank, UNDP, USAID, DeLog, ICLD, InterAction, International IDEA, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung – and informally at numerous conferences.
The Future of our Community
The Hunger Project is committed to continue this work. Through the dedication and hard work of our volunteers, we can continue to support the website and regular updates. We are exploring new funding opportunities and partnership, which we hope will leverage the work we’ve all put into the Participatory Local Democracy Index. One next step we hope can be achieved in 2015 is to make the analysis of the survey “instant” so that individual provinces, districts and communities and self-assess and register their findings in a global, crowd-sourced database. With this new, simpler-to-use tool, it should be possible to network with civil society groups in many more countries, and generate much more data at the national and sub-national level.
While expressing our gratitude to the visionary investment by UNDEF, I also want to express my tremendous appreciation to all of you who are skillfully and often courageously creating the opportunity for millions of women and men to take charge of their own lives and destinies through participatory local democracy.