The UN Development Cooperation High-Level Symposium, that took place in Kampala, Uganda, from 4 to 6 November, was the first opportunity, after the adoption of the 2030 Development Agenda, and under the UN auspices, to discuss the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. A delegation of UCLG Champions took part in the Forum, including Mr. Soyer, Mayor of Seferihisar (Turkey) and Ms. Nomveliso Nyukwana, Mayor of Emalahleni (South Africa).
Throughout the forum, local leaders recalled the necessity for all goals and targets of the new Development Agenda to be localized in order to build an agenda of action. The agenda represents both a huge opportunity ànd challenge for local governments: potentially, all Goals can be met at the local level and can therefore cause a local impact. The challenge is that there is not sufficient attention for the role that local governments will need to play to reach that potential. Ms. Nomveliso Nyukwana, Mayor of Emalahleni (South Africa) and UCLG Champion put it as follows: " At local level we know what our citizens need and therefore it is only natural that we play a leading role in the elaboration of development strategies of our areas. These should be guiding for the strategies at national level and not the other way around!"
The Symposium provided the opportunity to discuss the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals. The UCLG Champions proposed the set-up of "multi-stakeholders platforms that should trigger true inclusion and genuine broad-based ownership", and which include the participation of other stakeholders such as local governments, parliamentarians, CSOs and private sector. They also emphasised the importance to desagregate data.
One of Champion Soyers' (Mayor of Seferihisar, Turkey) contributions was: "Being a level of government, we are not always sufficiently engaged in discussions on the definition of the national development priorities. A bottom-up approach in the definition and implementation of policies remains key."
Special role of national associations and peer-to-peer capacity
Through the quoting of the UCLG Policy Paper on Development Cooperation, the special role of national associations of local governments was stressed by the Champions in their contributions:
"In South Africa, our national association SALGA, representing all local governments in South Africa and direct interlocutor of the central government, is quite strong. However, this is not the case in many other countries. Therefore, peer-to-peer capacity building between local government associations is important, to strengthen the capacity of local government associations to channel the needs of local governments to the central level as input to the national development priorities or country result frameworks.” said Champion Nyukwana, Mayor of Emalahleni (South Africa), whose municipality is supported through the Local Government Capacity Programme of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, on local economic development.
Calling for a "data and reporting revolution"
Eventually, it was made clear by UCLG Champions that local governments are facing a challenge of having many reporting mechanisms to deal with. Every project implemented with external funding has a different result framework and different logics behind. It was recalled that the UCLG Working Group on Capacity Institutional Building (CIB) is currently conducting a study on the different methodologies of monitoring and evaluation to recommend which reporting mechanism is the most effective to use in local government development cooperation.
About the UN Development Cooperation Forum
The United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (UN DCF) is the main universal structure to discuss development cooperation policies. It is a platform used by local and regional governments to advocate for the importance and advantages of decentralised cooperation in development cooperation, where local governments are recognised by the UN DCF as a key and differentiated actor since its outset.
The next High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) will take the work of the Symposium into account in its review of the progress of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The deliberations will also be used in the follow-up process of Financing for Development and contribute to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.