New EU Consensus on Development: the achievement of the SDGs is dependent on local & regional governments
New European consensus on development recognizes the role of local and regional governments in achieving the SDGs and commits to support decentralization reforms and decentralized cooperation.
On 19 May, the Council of the European Union adopted a new consensus on development, setting out a new framework for development cooperation for the EU and its member states. The European consensus for development is the EU’s response to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. It sets out the main principles which will guide the EU and its member states in cooperation with developing countries over the next 15 years, as well as a strategy for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The consensus is important given the crucial role of the EU in the area of development cooperation. The EU remains the world’s largest development aid donor, providing more than half of assistance worldwide.
UCLG welcomes the emphasis that the consensus puts partnerships, including with local and regional governments. The text commits to support capacity-building and calls on all partners to “play their respective roles fully, including their scrutiny role, alongside national governments and actively participate in the decision-making process”.
Concerning in particular local and regional governments, the consensus recognizes several of the fundamental objectives and values of UCLG, […] the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) [and PLATFORMA] declaring:
“The achievement of most of the SDGs is strongly dependent on the active involvement of local and regional authorities. The EU and its Member States will support transparency, accountability and decentralisation reforms, where appropriate, to empower regional and local authorities for better governance and development impact and better address inequalities within countries. They will support processes to help people interact effectively with local government at all stages of policy planning and implementation, and will strengthen their cooperation with local and other sub-national authorities, including through decentralised cooperation.”
The importance of these references should not be underestimated in the current international context.
The Council, in line with UCLG’s Bogotá Commitment, highlights the role of culture as an enabler and component of development, calling for the promotion of cultural diversity, heritage. It also recognizes the need for peacebuilding “at all levels, from local to global”.
UCLG applauds the EU’s commitment to “support capacity building for strong institutions and multi-level governance, with the participation of persons in vulnerable situations and minorities through partnerships between national, sub-national and local governments.” and calls for increased resources for local government capacity building through decentralized cooperation.
UCLG also welcomes the recognition of the distinctive and crucial role of civil society in a democratic space, and calls for the EU to heed the concerns, which we share, expressed by the third sector regarding the instrumentalisation of development cooperation towards security, commercial and migration objectives.
UCLG also share concerns that the increasing mantra of aid effectiveness and the reduction of investment will put development in hands of actors that might not be so mindful of the principles of good governance, human and labour rights. UCLG, as a Strategic Partner of the European Union, will continue to build on these principles and to monitor the implementation of this new consensus in the era of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda.
UCLG calls on our members in EU partner countries to get acquainted with the new European consensus and to start a dialogue with EU Delegations to explore opportunities for future collaboration.
UCLG calls on our European members to actively monitor and pursue the development of decentralized cooperation activities in partnership with civil society and other actors.
The joint statement will be officially signed by the President of the European Parliament, the Prime Minister of Malta, on behalf of the Council and member states, the President of the European Commission, and the High Representative, at the European Development Days on 7 June. It will replace the current European consensus on development, which was adopted in 2006.