ACP YPN on decentralized cooperation at Platforma 10 years anniversary. On 10 October 2018, Aïssatou Touré , ACP YPN Public Policy Officer spoke during the opening ceremony of Platforma 10 years anniversary on decentralized cooperation alongside: Rob Metz, Soest Mayor (the Netherlands ) , Chairman of the International delegation of VNG; Linda McAvan, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Development Committee; Vincent Codjo Acakpo, Mayor of Dogbe (Benin), co-laureate of the 2018 Platforma Awards on decentralized cooperation.
Aïssatou discussed within the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) – European Union (EU) partnership the role of (1) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including youth organizations in decentralized cooperation, (2) the role of young people in supporting the implementation of SDGs at the local level and (3) the engagement of local governments to mobilize the potential of youth.
First, Aïssatou gave her definition of decentralized cooperation that should:
- allow local authorities to exercise their autonomy and discretion depending on the needs of their local population by engaging with different stakeholders on a local level in particular with CSOs;
- allow decentralized participatory democracy and governance including transparency and accountability mechanisms;
- through city-to-city cooperation promote exchange of technical and financial know-how.
One key component of decentralized cooperation is the involvement of CSOs to identify that the areas of cooperation are consistent and in line with community needs and priorities. This implies that participatory approaches must be integrated by authorities as outlined in article 2 of the ACP – EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) who defines participation as a fundamental principle of the cooperation between ACP countries and the EU.
Second, despite the fact that there is no “youth” Sustainable Development Goal (Youth is referred in 5 of the 169 targets), Aïssatou highlighted the importance of the role of the youth in supporting the implementation of SDGs in aligning them with regional and local agendas and by creating enabling environment for youth and youth organizations. As such, Aïssatou used the example of ACP YPN providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes at the local, regional, national and international level, assuring equality of opportunity in line with article 26 of the CPA and aiming to ensure inclusive, responsive decision-making at all levels as defined in SDG 16,7.
Third, decentralization can only strengthen local governments making them autonomous, accountable and enhance their services delivery if young people – who are the main beneficiaries of their policies- are involved. Indeed, permanent spaces must be put in place by local authorities to use the potential of youth in defining solutions. As an example, ACP YPN created a Youth Forum at the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly giving the opportunity for young people to engage dialogue with more than 100 representatives from the ACP countries and the EU.
In conclusion, Aïssatou recognizes the necessity of transferring governance to local authorities and the importance to create permanent mechanisms to ensure sustainable participation in particular of CSOs and youth organizations. This will allow an increased participation of local population and enhance ownership of development strategies by the direct beneficiaries.
By ACP YPN
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