Local Government Associations
Mayor of Utrecht and Co-President of UCLG
Director, Global Solutions Division, UN-Habitat
CEO of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
UCLG Secretary General
Local leaders around the world are facing a common challenge of keeping citizens safe while ensuring the provision of basic public goods and services. While they face a common threat, the particularities of each region and territory ask for different approaches to guarantee a safe environment for all. In that context, Local Government Associations (LGAs) play a key role in providing reliable and timely information to their members, supporting collaboration in service provision, and generating awareness and promoting advocacy by liaising local leaders with regional and national authorities. Additionally, they have proven to be a very effective space for the exchange of learnings, best practices and tools amongst members to respond to such an unprecedented challenge.
During the LLE, 97% of the representatives of LGAs stated that COVID-19 has affected the work of their associations,
and 60% responded that intergovernmental responses have improved throughout the crisis.
Nonetheless, one of the main challenges being faced by LGAs during the pandemic is still the lack of coordination and consensus between different spheres and levels of government. This results in delayed responses to urgent matters and in contradicting messages from national authorities both to local government actors and to the population. LGAs also expressed to be under extreme pressure as local governments are expected to provide additional public goods and services when funding or other essential resources (such as health equipment) are not available and income through service fees is decreasing drastically.
Prior to the pandemic, local and regional governments and LGAs had already expressed the need to be more engaged with national authorities when it comes to creating development policies that will ultimately reflect in the lives of urban citizens. Given the challenges imposed by the crisis, many of which will remain in the years to come, LGAs can be used as a fundamental tool to bridge that gap and have more leverage when advocating for national policies that support local needs. As expressed during the pandemic, appropriate funding to address health, social and economic changes due to the crisis will also be fundamental to build more resilient and inclusive cities.
Here’s how Brazil’s FNP (Association of Medium and Large Cities) is promoting dialogue between Brazilian mayors and foreign local authorities
The League of Cities of the Philippines has been able to negotiate internal revenue allotments for its members to ease their financial pressure
South Africa’s SALGA is partnering with the private sector to direct support to municipalities
Learn how Quito cooperates with local associations and businesses to expand social assistance to migrant residents
Sfax is working with local and international associations to deliver food baskets to vulnerable migrants
Lampedusa is opening up vacant apartments and public facilities to migrant residents:
- Looking ahead, the crisis could help define and expand the role of Local Government Associations to support their membership.
- Solidarity and decentralized cooperation among communities, and dialogue between states and local and regional governments will be key to resolving the current challenges; and UCLG will strengthen this aspect through the different groups, in particular through the Capacity and Institution Building (CIB) working group which is already working to deliver a library of best practices and methodologies.
- LGAs, together with local authorities, are filling the gap in terms of information dissemination to local communities when there’s no clear communication coming from the national level.
- LGAs are working beyond the public sphere and establishing new partnerships – for instance, by coordinating efforts between local governments and private and academic stakeholders.
- Precisely at a time when travelling is very limited, LGAs have become a key platform through which municipalities can exchange ideas, tools and best practices to address common issues. So far LG associations have done a lot in terms of providing online platforms to exchange ideas and enable live interaction between local authorities.
The pandemic has reinforced the idea that collaboration is paramount if we want to effectively respond to pressing global challenges. Like in a health emergency such as the one we face, as we aim to flight climate change, increasing inequality and many other global issues, it will take global cooperation to find effective, long-lasting solutions. COVID-19 should serve as an example of the role that associations such as LGAs might have in bringing together their members and other key actors and promoting a collaborative, transparent and inclusive approach to address those issues.
The UCLG Decalogue