April 6th 2011

Local partnerships for international development

Jeremy Brussels

Last week Jeremy Smith was in Brussels for the launch of a new publication, “Decentralised development cooperation – European perspectives”, for which he was the main author (read on to download English and French versions of the publication).

It has been produced by Platforma, the Europe-wide network of local and regional governments for international development, to showcase the role, cost-effectiveness and value of partnerships between cities, towns and regions from Europe with their counterparts in lower-income countries across the world.  Jeremy’s warm thanks go to Lucie Guillet and Sandra Ceciarini, of the Platforma and CEMR secretariats, for their very considerable help in this work.

The introduction sets out the context and reasons for these  local-level partnerships for development – growing urbanisation and population, trends towards devolution of powers from central to sub-national governments, and a consequent focus on local governance and service delivery.  It also shows how the European Union has in recent years begun to recognize much more fully the value of these local partnerships as part of its overall development policies.

The biggest part of the publication, available in English and French, is given over to 16 short examples of local and regional partnerships.  These include two interesting UK examples – Leicester city with the Gujarat (India) city of Rajkot, for sustainable development with a strong community focus; and the Government of Wales with the region of Mbale in eastern Uganda, which focuses on the impact and mitigation of climate change.

Other examples of inter-regional cooperation include Catalonia with the Nariño region of Colombia, aimed at involving and empowering young people, in one of the hardest-hit areas in Colombia’s long armed conflict, and the French region of Basse-Normandie with the eastern Madagascan region of Atsinanana, where the cooperation targets regional development.

At more local (city and town) level, examples include that of France’s second city, Lyon, with Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.  This case demonstrates the value of long-term cooperation, which since 1993 has covered many aspects of urban development and public services, as well as a strong Local Agenda 21 (sustainability) element.  And then there is the partnership between the Dutch town of Apeldoorn and Banda Aceh, Indonesia – a town which suffered terrible damage in the 2004 tsunami.  The cooperation has included very practical support – fire engine, help with waste management – Banda Aceh won the prize in 2009 for cleanest city in Indonesia – but also covers a wider programme of institutional support and capacity-building.

The last part of the publication looks at the work of Platforma, which we are pleased to see is growing in influence and effectiveness, and is about to start a second 2 year programme period, for which it has received financial support, since 2008, from the European Commission under the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities funding programme.

Jeremy had taken the initiative back in 2006, as Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), to bring partners together into a new very broad-based and representative European “platform” of local and regional governments involved in international development work, which also included the “south” through international associations like United Cities and Local Government.  We needed a united voice towards the European institutions, and also a place to exchange information and learning amongst local and regional governments.   The development NGOs had long ago organised themselves at EU level in their association Concord, and local governments needed a similar capacity to be heard.

“Decentralised development cooperation – European perspectives”

Author: Jeremy Smith

No. of pages: 64

Publication date: April 2011

Available languages: English / French

Download English PDF

Download French PDF


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