In many parts of the world, local civil servants work under difficult circumstances. The communities for which they work are characterised by widespread poverty, a lack of basic services, high unemployment rates and environmental challenges. Moreover, their organisations often lack qualified staff and financial resources needed to deal with these challenges.

Still there are many young, ambitious civil servants that strive for better services and the development of their local communities. Talent for Governance supports them by providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and training so that they can develop their skills and realise their ambitions.

During our talent programme, young talents at the local level increase their practical knowledge on topics such as management of waste or water, local economic development, municipal service delivery, citizen participation and accountability, fiscal decentralisation and local taxes, climate change and resilience, integrity and anti-corruption.

The selected talents follow international training in The Hague and an internship in a Dutch municipality. They meet colleagues from abroad, learn from experiences in other countries and link what they have learned to the daily practice in their home countries. This will help them to achieve their personal goals and make a real difference for their local communities.


Young civil servants employed by a local government in a developing country (e.g. municipality, district, town) can apply for the Talent for Governance programme. They must have a strong motivation and a concrete project or idea to improve the performance of the organisation and create better services for their community.

Application is possible if you: work for a local government (not an NGO or private Enterprise. And although we acknowledge the great work of civil servant like school and university teachers, nurses, doctors, soldiers, police, civil servants at central and state government level they do not form the focus point of this training and internship programme, and therefore have no chance of being selected) ;

  • work in one of the countries listed on the DAC country list;
  • be 37 years of age or younger when you apply;
  • have at least two years of work experience in local governance and prove your commitment to
  • work there for at least two years more;
  • speak and understand the English language well (all programmes are in English);
  • be able to write down and orally defend your motivation for and relevance of the specific programme;
  • be able to identify an issue/project as a real life case within the theme of the programme for which you will write a Back Home Action Plan during the talent programme;
  • have written support of your employer to participate in the programme and to implement the Back Home Action Plan when you return home.


The talent programme is organised two or three times a year. All talent programmes are organised around a different local governance theme, linked to the theme of the training course that will be followed at The Hague Academy for Local Governance. Themes of the talent programmes so far include: Citizen Participation & Accountability, Female Leadership, Leadership & Municipal Management, Local Economic Development, Local Service Delivery & Millennium Development Goals, Climate Change & Resilient Cities, Fiscal Decentralisation & Local Finance.

Every talent programme is composed of four different parts:

1. International practice oriented training course at The Hague Academy for Local Governance

In the two-week training course, modules provided by international experts and workshops of trainers are combined with field visits, case discussions, role play and simulation games. During the course the Talents exchange their knowledge with other participants, coming from different parts of the world. To make sure that the things they learn are relevant for their work back home, the programme focuses on how the participants can apply lessons and experiences from other countries into their own, local context. Learning from each other, exchanging ideas and experiences and getting to know different practices in order to broaden your scope of reference, that is what the training courses are all about!

2. Week-long internship at a Dutch municipality

During the internship the Talents experience a Dutch government organisation from inside for a couple of days. They visit multiple departments and projects. A real eye-opener, not only for the Talents but also very much for their Dutch colleagues. Experience has learnt that this exchange is mutually beneficial and inspirational for all involved. Often the Talents stay with a host family and meet the local ‘young civil servants network’, for instance during a city tour or an informal reception. By engaging in this kind of activities they get to know one another in a more informal way too.

3. Networking activities

Our Talent for Governance Facebook Fanpage gives talents the chance to communicate with colleagues from all around the world, before, during ánd after the programme. They use this community to give regular updates about their work and the progress of the Back Home Action Plan.

During the talent programmes ‘live’ networking activities are organised which take different forms. During one programme the talents visited the national ‘Young Civil Servants Day’ where they presented their work and their countries. In April 2012, talent Doto Mgasa met with the trainee group of the Dutch Association of Municipalities (VNG).

4. Back home action plan

Together with their application forms the talents submit a real life case from their work: a short project or issue on which they like to learn more during the programme. This project has been approved by their employers. During the talent programme, the talents work on a Back Home\Action plan for this project. They think about methods, approaches, best practices etc. that have been treated during the course and relate this to their own context. Foregoing the programme, the present the question they have with regard to their real life-case and during the programme they will try to find the answers they need. In their Back Home Action Plan, the talents also describe how they will share the knowledge they gained with their colleagues back home.

So, the starting point of the learning process are the issues of the young local practitioners themselves. They are responsible for their own learning process and need to critically reflect on the examples and theory they are provided with during the programme. They also ask critical questions to the Dutch colleagues they meet during field visits and internship.

After the programme the talents will be asked to write regular updates on the progress of the project. These updates will be monitored by The Hague Academy for Local Governance,.When talents during the course of a year show they put enough effort in the implementation of their Back Home Action Plan they will be awarded a certificate of excellence. They also have the opportunity to ask for advice and suggestions from colleagues from all over the world through our Talent for Governance community on Facebook.

Talent for Governance is the talent programme of The Hague Academy for Local Governance.  We raise funds with Dutch municipalities, organisations, businesses and individuals to make the programme possible.

The Talent for Governance programme is almost completely cost covering. The talent programme covers cost of tuition fee, travel costs, accommodation and most living expenses in The Netherlands. The Hague Academy will select the travel arrangements and accommodation and about half of the costs of the living expenses which entail three meals a day, meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner.

All selected local government practitioners are asked to also contribute themselves to the Talent for Governance programme. This is a relatively small part of the financial costs of the programme. With this investment in him/herself the talent also shows commitment to the programme and their own development. The amount asked of the talent is 150 Euros. This amount will be deducted from the allowance we calculate for basic living expenses mentioned above, which means the talent pays for about half the additional living expenses during the programme in the Netherlands themselves.

Check out more on the application procedure for the programme on this page