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Decentralization, Localization and Local Governance

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In many countries, the public sector is weakest where it is closest to the people.

Effective decentralization and accountable local governance institutions provide one of the most important avenues for people—including the poor, women and minorities—to participate in the development of their communities and to influence the decision-making processes that are directly relevant to their lives. As a result, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals recognize the importance of building “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

In addition, global consultations on the localization of the post-2015 agenda have identified local governments and territorial administrative bodies as key actors for delivering pro-poor public services and accelerating poverty reduction. In many countries, however, the public sector is weakest where it is closest to the people.

Because local governance systems are complex and multi-dimensional in nature, it is impossible to capture all details and aspects of a local governance system into a single measure or even along a single spectrum. Virtually all countries rely on multi-level governance systems to deliver public services, with different countries relying on different functional assignments. Similarly, each country has its own political, administrative and fiscal institutional arrangement at the local level. Finally, considerable variation exists between countries in the mechanisms used to ensure community participation in the delivery of local services.