With the adoption of the sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and increased commitment to resilient development, the local government plays an important role in localising and contextualising these global goals and turning them into pragmatic solutions.
However, the critical role of local government in administering services and facilitating community development priorities is often overlooked, especially in the face of climate change and disasters. In the Pacific, local government also needs to be recognised as a critical player in achieving resilient development goals as outlined in the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP).
The Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) convened a forum for local government resilient development officers from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in recognition of local government as an important stakeholder for managing the risks that communities face to climate change and disasters.
The purpose of the forum was to create an informal network that provides the platform for these officers to share successful approaches and examples to risk informed development.
The value of local government is its ability to understand the context and vulnerabilities of local communities, says Evaipomana Tuuholoaki, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Local Government for the Government of Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“The intersection of governance strengthening and community development initiatives that are risk informed is important for community resilience”, said Tuuholoaki
“The platform that this meeting has created, has allowed us to see how we each, can support one another.” She added, “our contexts may be different, but there are commonalities that we can draw on and learn from.”
Through a week-long PRRP Local Government Resilient Development Forum, these resilient development officers have formed a unique network of practitioner’s risk informing development in their countries and each have a wealth of experience to draw upon.
“Local Government is the fabric of society at a local level”, said Ben Tabi, the Manager – Decentralisation, for the Department of Local Authorities under the Government of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
“The forum was very valuable, rich with information and a milestone opportunity and platform for valuable and frank dialogue.”
“Following this forum, we will each be propagating the key messages on resilience issues that we have developed, as a collective, across all levels of local government”, said Tabi.
PRRP is a regional programme initially operating over five years in these four countries with the goal for communities to become more resilient to risks from climate change and disasters.
To strengthen development partner’s ability to integrate risk, a key approach for PRRP has been to support learning platforms or networks for learning, says PRRP Programme Manager, Moortaza Jiwanji.
“PRRP has seen the value of helping to support learning networks for government officials across countries, as seen with the Protection in the Pacific (ProPa) Network.”
“Similarly, the network of local government resilient development officers, aims to build each other’s capacity to implement and influence risk informed development in the Pacific region” said Jiwanji.
“The uniqueness of this Forum was that the local government officials facilitated the sessions themselves.” He added, “these local government officers understand their own successes and challenges and so were best equipped to facilitate these discussions.”
The next steps for the Network is to explore opportunities for joint funding, peer to peer exchanges to project sites and sharing lessons with the wider region.
Recognising the role of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and Live and Learn Environmental Education (LLEE) in supporting bottom up development, the two organisations were also involved to help facilitate learnings on local governance strengthening and risk informing development.
The PRRP is a programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Fiji and delivered in partnership with LLEE with support from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).Contact informationFor more information, please contact: Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge and Communications Analyst, tel: (679) 3227 504 or firstname.lastname@example.org