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F. Capacity to undertake tasks assigned (human and financial)
The importance of local authorities and local decision-making processes in sustainable development is becoming more and more apparent. There are opportunities for international agencies to strengthen the capacity of local governments to undertake functions and tasks assigned, both human and financial resources by giving support to local entities in building up systematic approaches to information, policy, and programme planning and implementation.
(Source: Department for Policy Coordinaton and Sustainable Development. Assessment of the International Institutional Arrangements to Follow Up the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Chapter 38) BACKGROUND PAPER #4. New York, 1997.)
Figure 1: Capacity building at local level governments with regard to sustainable development
a. Capacity constraints
In some cases, while the institutional structure may be appropriate, other factors, such as lack of human and financial resources, lack of commitment etc. may deter their efficient functioning in integrating environmental considerations into development planning and implementing environmental measures.
| 1. Autonomy constraints
The capacity of various levels of government varies widely, with most local authorities having a very limited ability to make and enforce policy decisions.
2. Manpower constraints
The complexity of environmental issues requires the cooperation of all staff within the agency. However, there exist the problems that could undermine the efficiency of the agencies to undertake the tasks assigned, which are
- Lack of manpower, and
- Unskilled manpower,
3. Financial constraints
Generally, local government revenue can be broken down into 2 categories
- Self-generated revenue, i.e. levy of local government taxes
- Grants from central and upper-level local government, i.e. share from government revenue, subsidies from the national budget
Financial constraint is common among sub-provincial level authorities as funding from central government becomes less as the authoritative area becomes smaller.
4. Technological constraints
- Availability of technology
- Access to technology
Possible counter measure for technological constraints is technology transfer.
b. Capacity building of local governments
Given the capacity contraints described above, capacity building at local level governments with regard to sustainable development can be done through
- Implementation of pilot projects
- Replication of best practices
- Environmental education and training
- Preparation and response in environmental aspects of emergencies, and
- Facilitation from external sources e.g. external funding (= overseas assistance to support development in a number of areas distributing funds to the local level for community development and poverty alleviation)
Key objectives of capacity building are to
- Facilitate and support environmental institution-building by Governments at local levels,
- Promote collaboration with selected partners, including other UN organizations, NGOs, local authorities, other major groups and civil society organizations, and
- Promote public participation in environmental management and access to information on environmental matters.
(Source: the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI))
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