The advancement of sustainable urbanisation as a driver for development is a central aspect of the realisation of the the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and one of UN-Habitat’s main objectives. The UN-Habitat Strategic Plan for 2020-2023 is calling for multi-level coordination and arrangements to improve governance structures, while highlighting the important role that regional and local governments present to the development of these sustainable urbanisation projects.

To this end, a two-day UN-Habitat Expert Group Meeting took place on the 27 and 28 April. The main objective of the EGM was to re-align and strengthen UN-Habitat’s work on governance to support the flagship programmes (capture domestic revenue, manage urban displacement, enhance climate action, or assure spatial equality), and the domains of change of the UN-Habitat Strategic Plan 2020-2023. The event also sought to identify potential areas of collaboration with partners and stakeholders.

Regions4 was invited to participate at the Segment 1 of Dialogue 2: “The role of subnational governments in multi-level governance” on 27 April. Ivy Moraes, Sustainable Development Manager, participated in the session to share Regions4’s experience in multi-level governance and the development of policies to ensure the urban-rural continuum.

Below we highlight some of the key messages shared by Regions4:

1. Partnerships are pivotal for the implementation of processes, accountable multilevel governance would include not only national and sub-national governments, but local communities, research centers and private partnerships. A well-designed multi-level governance framework is critical to ensuring that decentralization processes have better development policy outcomes, by minimizing the inefficiencies, inequality, duplications, and siloed approaches.

2. Regions are a political space in which cities and urban areas are embedded, thus regional governments have a privileged position to coordinate and lead the action in lower tiers of government, with the possibility to stay tuned to citizen’s expectations, raise awareness and kick-start change. Furthermore, regional goverments promote policy coordination, coherence, and vertical integration, becoming an essential nexus between the national and the local levels.

3. However, implementing efficient multi-level governance strategies still has many challenges: there is a lack of coordination between the levels, differing interests and priorities present a constraint for vertical cooperation, power imbalances between parties, absence of jurisdiction over the project, as well as a lack of evidence on sustainability projects or ways to prove their efficiency.

4. In this sense, it is key to provide visibility to the good practices of multi-level governance at regional level:

  • Jalisco’s State Action Programme Against Climate Change (PEACC) where the regional government, guided by Mexico’s National Determined Contribution, is strengthening the adaptative capacities of 50% of their most vulnerable municipalities.
  • Sao Paulo’s Municipio Resiliente Programme is a collaboration between the state and its municipalities to map adaptation risks and create projects that can become resilience actions in their territory.
  • Udalsarea 2030, the Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability is another successful example of multi-level governance to achieve the 2030 Agenda, which nowadays gathers over 200 municipalities as well as regional government agencies and departments.
  • At national level, Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Platform gathers the national, provincial, and territorial governments, as well as the private sector, NGOs, and indigenous communities all part of coordination mechanisms.

5. For a better functioning of multi-level governance, it is important to create long-term cooperation strategies that assure the agenda’s existence over time, autonomy, and support of local and regional governments to carry out this strategy on their own, and periodic monitoring to ensure the implementation of resources and the framework are still performing correctly. Clear leadership needs to be established to ensure transparency in the processes and to encourage transversal coordination and integration as a common practice.

Thus, it is important to continue promoting a culture of cooperation across administrative and territorial boundaries, to foster communication between multi-level stakeholders, and to bringing regional governments into UN processes not only as speakers, but as active parts of the decision-making in areas that affect them.

Further information

To revisit the UN Habitat’s EGM session on governance, click here.

To learn more about multi-level governance from a regional perspective, check out our publications: