The member states of United Nations, on 25 September 2015, have given consent to on one of the most burning issues: Sustainable Development Goals for the period of 2015-2030. The SDGs are backed by the MDGs which were in execution from 2000 to 2015. The inclusive nature of SDGs represents a major victory for all stakeholders. A long consultation process was required for confirmation of SDGs where it was clearly articulated that effective local government is one of the convenient channel to achieve SDGs smoothly.
On 7th December 2016, In a conference organised by Swiss Development Cooperation, Helvetas-Swiss Inter Cooperation Bangladesh and the Institute of Governance And Development of Brac University, Mani Shankar Aiyar, one of the pioneers of root level democracy and the former member of India’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, put emphasis on making local government effective for ensuring sustainable development. In every state we can find generally two kinds of governments – central and local. The local government is a form of public administration which, in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state whereas central govt chiefly deals with policy formulation, directory issues, budgetary process for the entire country etc. As local governments materialise the policies taken by the central govt, there is a mutual relationship between them.
Sustainable development is the organising principle for sustaining finite resources necessary to provide for the needs of future generations on the planet. While the modern concept of it has its root in earlier ideas about sustainable forest management and twentieth century environmental concerns, now as a whole ‘sustainable development’ refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes that lead us to the end point of sustainability.
On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Official Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted has 92 paragraphs, with the main paragraph (51) outlining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its associated 169 targets.
SDG 1 takes a multi-dimensional view of poverty and therefore requires multiple, coordinated responses. Local governments are in the ideal position to identify people living in poverty on the ground, and to target resources and services to help them escape it. An effective local govt can assist to generate new employment sectors – fishing, farming, weaving etc- which will reduce poverty to a great extent.
Agriculture (SDG-2) is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households. Active local governments can support agricultural production and local economic growth by strengthening transport infrastructure and markets to promote local food chains which will result in zero hunger.
Effective LG is a means to reduce child and maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. It can assure an increasing access to clean water and sanitation. At the same time it can provide better and one stop health care to women. Consequently, a healthy life and well being for all ages will be ensured.
Education (SDG-4), particularly at primary level, is a direct responsibility of local governments in many countries. Local governments are particularly well-placed to reach out to vulnerable and marginalised individuals and communities and to ensure they have access to education and training that meet their needs.
Local governments can act as a model for gender equality and the empowerment of women through non-discriminatory service provision to citizens and fair employment practices. Local governments are on the frontline of identifying and tackling violence and harmful practices against women. Female leaders in local government can challenge gender stereotypes and set an example to young girls. Local governments can mainstream gender equality across all areas of their work in order to tackle the multiple barriers to women’s empowerment.
Local governments have a role to play in improving water quality through environmental protection measures and sustainable solid waste management, integrated water resources management requires horizontal cooperation in planning and environmental policy between municipalities and regions across borders. Local governments are ideally placed to support participatory management of water and sanitation by communities, including slum-dwellers.
Local governments can contribute to energy efficiency directly by investing in energy efficient buildings and green energy sources in public institutions (government offices, schools, etc.) and by introducing sustainability criteria into our procurement practices.
Local governments can generate growth and employment from the bottom up through local economic development strategies that harness the unique resources and opportunities in our territories. Local governments can act as an example in providing safe and secure working environments, and in guaranteeing equal pay for equal work Local governments can include the promotion of small-scale industry and start-ups in their local economic development strategies, taking into account local resources, needs and markets. It can identify gaps in access to ICT and the internet in our communities and take steps to bridge them, particularly through Provision in public spaces such as libraries.
Local governments are essential to the reduction of inequality within countries and to build our capacities to identify and tackle poverty and exclusion. They can include progressive local taxation in our fiscal policy and dedicate local budgets to boost the employment opportunities and income of the poorest households in our communities.
Sustainable cities and communities are designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimisation of required inputs or energy, water, food, waste output of heat, air pollution – carbon dioxide, methane, and water pollution. By the operation among urban, local and regional partners, it is very possible to achieve expected goal.
Local and regional governments can support short supply chains, thereby reduce transport and carbon emissions, through land management, infrastructure, urban planning, education and training, and public markets. As consumers of goods and services, local and regional governments can establish procurement criteria that take waste and carbon emissions from potential providers into account.
It is essential that local governments, particularly in the most vulnerable cities, integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into urban and regional planning to reduce the emissions of our cities and increase their resilience to environmental shocks.
Almost 80 per cent of the pollution in the oceans comes from land-based activities, both in coastal areas and further inland. Many of the world’s largest cities are located on the coast and many coastal cities discharge sewage, industrial effluent and other wastewater directly into their surrounding seas. However, urban sanitation and solid waste management are essential to reduce coastal zone pollution, as is the collaboration between municipalities and regional bodies.
Local governments’ role as service providers (especially of water, sanitation, and solid waste management) is coupled with our ability to induce behavioural change in our communities. Biodiversity conservation often requires cooperation between municipalities across their borders, for example in the creation of trans-boundary biodiversity and wildlife corridors.
This goal calls on local governments to become more effective and accountable to our citizens. This requires us to tackle corruption and increase the people’s access to information. For decades, local governments have led the way in experimenting with new forms of participatory decision-making, such as participatory budgeting and planning.
Local governments are in the ideal position to encourage and facilitate partnerships among public bodies, the private sector and civil society in our communities. Local governments have been collaborating internationally for over one hundred years as part of the international municipal movement.
Now local government is gaining accreditation for its growing role in inclusive sustainable development. But it’s a matter of irony that, especially in developing world, local government is facing vigorous problems which must be solved first. At last we have to ensure a strong bond between central and local government and people’s participation in every level of local government.