United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Local Authorities

Intervention by the Local Authorities Major Group; Thursday 3 March 2005,
Chair, we've all heard a lot this week about decentralization, capacity building at
the local level, and financing of local infrastructure . Local Authorities welcome
the statements made by various delegates recognizing that Sustainable
Development will be achieved at the local level .
However, Local Authorities now call for concrete commitments, which will be
incorporated within the Chair's Summary, of who will do what, how and when .
A number of suggestions for ways in which this might be done have been
highlighted in the Local Authorities Priorities for Action paper, which has been
distributed to delegates
Decentralisation is crucial to the effective implementation in the three focal areas
of water, sanitation and human settlements . Effective decentralisation requires :
- firstly, supportive institutional frameworks, for example as demonstrated in
Bolivia's "Law of Popular Participation" .
- secondly, such frameworks for decentralisation need to come hand in hand with
capacity building measure for Local Authorities,
- and thirdly, no decentralisation of regulatory powers can be effective without the
necessary financial resources and financial autonomy,
Capacity buildinq at the local level is needed in the areas of municipal leadership,
financial management, technical skills, participatory processes, and information
management, to name just a few .
This capacity building can be achieved through programmes instigated by
national governments, partnerships with NGOs and other Major Groups, and on
the international level through international donors and development agencies .
This brings us on to the question of financial resources. Local Authorities
specifically call for all developed countries to meet their ODA targets and to
promote a more effective use of funds through better coordination by supporting
programmes specifically targeting the local level, for example UN-HABITAT"s
Slum Upgrading Facility or UNDP's Capacity 2015 initiative .
Chair, Local Authorities would like to bring the discussion back to the
question of the environment . It is the poorest who are most affected by poor
environmental quality . Especially in relation to Human Settlements we have
heard a lot about financing mechanisms. Local Authorities would also like to see
more national legislation and policies focusing on the environmental aspects of
establishing sustainable communities .