Exploring New Partnerships for Sustainable Local Economic Development: DeLoG at the 4th World Forum of Local Economic Development

The 4th World Forum of Local Economic Development took place from 17th to 20th October 2017 in Praia, Cape Verde. Over 2800 participants from around 85 countries contributed to the forum and discussed opportunities and challenges of local economic development (LED) as a vehicle towards more sustainable, inclusive and equal societies.

© UNDP Art Initiative

Three main thematic areas framed the forum's various policy dialogues and panel discussions: integrated and cohesive territories, resilient and peaceful societies and sustainable and inclusive economies.

Under the latter one, DeLoG, together with FMDV and UNCDF, organised an interactive panel titled “Supporting Local Economic Development and Integrated Local Development: Changing Development Institutions in a Changing World” that took place on 19 October.

The session (concept note) aimed to discuss how to better leverage limited financial resources and foster multi-stakeholder partnerships in a synergistic way in order to propel transformative change for LED. Coming from different organisational backgrounds, Christel Alvergne (UNCDF), Carlos de Freitas (FMDV) and Khady Dia Sarr, City of Dakar, provided interesting insights and points of view on the topic.

Christel Alvergne, Deputy Director of the Local Development Finance Practice, underlined the importance of functioning donor-state relations and mutual understanding and support. She stated that each country and context needs to be taken into account when designing financial projects, nevertheless, that there are many experiences to draw lessons from. She addressed the need for blended financing mechanisms, such as project based funding and private public/cooperative partnerships to enlarge the funding base and generate more resources for local development.

Carlos de Freitas, Co-Director of Programmes at FMDV took account of the importance of local domestic resource mobilisation and innovative financing tools at the local level, such as retail bonds, that foster close relationships between the citizens and their local governments and empower the people. In addition, he emphasised the importance of local ownership with a direct link to local capacities in order to e.g. attract national financing. At the same time, he addressed the missing link between development banks and those institutions supporting LED and municipalities.

Next, Khady Dia Sarr, Programme Director for the Dakar Municipal Finance Programme referred to this missing link. Since 2012, she has been holding the position of this programme, which has provided critical technical and financial support to the city of Dakar as it prepares to launch the regions first Municipal Development Bond. She gave an insight into the years-long process of consultations with various financial and political stakeholders, including risks assessments, study tours and skepticism as well as support to building such bond.

All panelists agreed that the changing international landscape and new international development agendas provide opportunities for local governments to take an important role as change agents towards more integrated LED. They asked for new partnerships and a rethinking of development banks, donors and local governments likewise regarding local financing. The discussion shaped the formulation of § 11 of the forum's final declaration:

“The need for better designed and adapted international financing strategies, including innovative instruments to leverage domestic finance in support to the capacities of local and regional governments as drivers of sustainable LED.”

In general, the Forum provided a platform for international dialogue and experience sharing on LED, with various discussions on LED as an operational and strategic approach to localise the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. It created synergies between local authorities, regions and local economic development institutions in several countries. Please visit the forum's website for further information.