From 9 – 11 September 2015, DeLoG´s 10th Annual Meeting was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn, Germany. Around 40 participants from over 20 DeLoG member and partner organisations discussed around the topic of “Implementing the SDGs: The key role of decentralisation and local governance”.
In her opening speech, Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director of the General Directorate “Sustainable development, natural resources, economic and financial policy and infrastructure”, BMZ, put the focus on the central role of local actors in the implementation of the SDGs and encouraged the participants and other organisations to acknowledge cities and local authorities as important development actors.
Following this, David Satterthwaite (IIED) opened the discussion with his key note address pointing out weaknesses and the missing indication of means of implementation, indispensable for the local level to fulfil its required role. Throughout the meeting, David provided thought-provoking, critical comments.
A first panel discussion with panellists from BMZ, UCLG, SDC and EU/DEVCO framed the setting for the rest of the meeting and aimed at establishing a common understanding of the current international debate (FfD, SDGs, Habitat III) highlighting the significance of DLG for sustainable development.
The debate then went further: Starting with inputs by the EU, World Bank and UNCDF, the session on “Financing the SDGs at the local level” discussed modalities necessary to strengthen the role of the local level, taking the Addis Ababa Action Agenda into account. The next session focussed on how to measure DLG with regards to SDGs and the importance of disaggregated data. The political economy behind the reluctance to collect, analyse and actually use data collection was exposed. Further thematic sessions concentrated on Urban Governance and the opportunities to successfully advocate for DLG and Local Governments as indispensable partners for implementing the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, to be agreed upon at Habitat III in October 2016 as well as decentralisation in fragile environments. In addition, an open learn4dev meeting took place to inform and discuss on future options of DeLoG´s joint learning events. During DeLoG Business Sessions, ADB was welcomed as the 29th DeLoG member organisation. Jochen Mattern (DeLoG Secretariat) and Harald Schenker (SDC) presented strategic options for networking and the decisions to rename DeLoG into Development Partners Network on Decentralisation and Local Governance was taken. The annual meeting concluded with a first drafting of DeLoG’s work-plan for the up-coming year, to be finalised in the coming weeks.
Psyche Kennett facilitated the meeting and managed to set up an interactive and communicative environment for intense discussions and space for exchanging knowledge and experiences along with strengthening Networking.
Throughout the meeting it became clear that DeLoG provides
- a platform for exchanging year-long expertise among the members;
- a useful setup to conduct joint learning events; as well as
- an opportunity to bring members together in order to substantially influence and shape policy setting around DLG issues.
In summary, there was a general agreement that the SDGs cannot be achieved without a sufficient support to the local level. During the entire meeting, inputs and discussions confirmed to what extent effective decentralised political and administrative systems are essential, be it for tackling global challenges, such as poverty, food security, urbanisation, crisis and conflict, or be it to mitigate the effects of climate change and natural disasters. The DeLoG Network will finalise revising its thematic orientation and readjusting its activities in the light of the SDGs. The annual meeting has been successful in providing ample orientation for the way Forward.