The 2nd Regional Forum of Local Economic Development emphasizes the role of local and regional governments in diversifying the economy

Photo credits: @Reynaldo David Torres Duran

Between 27 and 30 June, the 2nd Regional Forum of Local Economic Development (LED) for Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Regional Forum is a platform for dialogue between representatives of national and sub-national governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, to promote sustainable development policies on the ground and achieve their implementation at local level.

The Forum was attended by the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and by over 1,000 participants from 25 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions. This meeting provided the opportunity to compare the different views of national, regional and local governments, associations, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers and members of civil society on how to achieve fairer, more equitable and sustainable development.

“Local governments have an ever-greater influence on national, regional and global policies – bringing pragmatism and participation to the institutionality that sustainable development requires – and associations have a key role in coordinating, supporting and publicizing this progress and bringing about relevant inspirational practices”.

These were the words of the leader of the UCLG delegation, Iván Arciénega, UCLG Vice-President and President of the Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Associations (FLACMA) and the Bolivian Association of Municipalities (AMB); the delegation included a Working Group on Local Economic Development led by the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Mercociudades and the Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities (UCCI), as well as three Bolivian local government organizations: The Bolivian Federation of Municipal Associations (FAM), the Bolivian Association of Councillors (ACOBOL) and the Association of Bolivian Municipalities (AMB).In addition to political coordination with the Bolivian government in the main plenary sessions, UCLG and FAMSI organized four panels on the circular economy, intermediary cities, urban agriculture and territorial cohesion. UCLG also organized, together with UNDP, two learning events on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Conclusions of the LED Forum: territorial cohesion and integration of governments at all levels

Councillors, mayors, local government associations, governors and prefects stressed a common message: diversified local economies and promoting decent employment are urgent tasks in a very urbanized continent, in which a high proportion of the population is self-employed or part of an underground economy. “Urbanization” that comes from the concept of local economy and a territorial cohesion agenda which integrates all spheres of government are required.

In particular, intermediary cities face the challenge of an informal economy and urbanization, which makes the provision of basic and strategic services – such as public transport, water supply for future inhabitants and the establishment of markets in neighbourhoods, in addition to the protection and regulation of street trading – a race against time.   In this respect, the fiscal pact, which is the outcome of an agenda of the Association of Bolivian Municipalities (AMB), with the Bolivian national government is a strategic step forward in the country’s development starting from its municipalities.

LED as promotion of equal opportunities: the Forum Declaration

The Final Declaration identified the specific challenges that the Latin American and Caribbean regions are facing and outlined how Local Economic Development is, at present, a consolidated set of diverse and widely applied practices and tools, aimed at promoting equal opportunities.

Local development, which is deeply rooted in the specificity of territorial contexts and driven by the shared vision of a wide range of local actors, helps to contextualize and integrate the Sustainable Development Goals, by relying on new partnership models and joining forces to find local solutions to meet global challenges.

The Forum is part of a long-term process, which has been consolidating a global alliance to enhance political debate and a shared vision of Local Economic Development.  The regional position outlined at the 2nd Forum in Bolivia will be presented at the upcoming World Forum, which will be held in Praia, Cape Verde from 17 to 20 October 2017.

We’ll see you in Cabo Verde!

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