With the deadline for the MDGs in sight, one of the most hotly debated topics in international development cooperation is the post-2015 development framework and what it should entail. A lot can be learnt from the successes and failures of our efforts towards the attainment of these goals. As The Hague Academy for Local Governance is dedicated to organising cutting edge training courses, we constantly revise our training content based on the latest insight from academia and practice. We feel that it is important to incorporate the lessons of the past years of working towards the MDGs in our courses and to ensure that they continue to address the challenges and opportunities that many developing countries currently face.  

In the debates there were two central themes that struck us as particularly important. The first one is that we need local solutions to local problems. In his recent blog on the post-2015 framework, Jamie Boex, one of our key experts, advocates for a bottom-up approach to global development. Jamie argues that in order to achieve real, transformative and sustainable development we need to start paying more attention to whether (and how) our efforts trickle down locally, to the people who should ultimately receive development assistance – and regular government services. Local authorities worldwide, gathered in the Global Taskforce for Post 2015, also stressed the importance of a people centred agenda that recognises local authorities as key actors for development. The courses of The Hague Academy support local governments to become more efficient, effective and accountable to their citizens and at the same time contribute to the empowerment of people vis-a-vis their governments. 

The second theme that came up in the post-2015 debates is the extreme inequality of opportunities that persists and continues to grow in so many low and middle income countries. Whilst some countries have experienced a steady growth of their economies over the past decade, this has often not materialised in better living conditions for the poorest and the bulk of the income remains in the hands of a few. As Kevin Watkins, the new executive director for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), argues in his recent Kapuściński development lecture, that a “failure to mitigate extreme inequalities and to redress the power relationships that perpetuate those inequalities will compromise our ability to rise to important development challenges like the eradication of hunger, avoidable child mortality, illiteracy and climate change”.  The UCLG Global Taskforce for Post 2015 has recently expressed the commitment of local authorities to end extreme poverty and put in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all.  

Keeping these two key challenges of adopting a bottom up approach and addressing inequalities in mind, our courses increasingly focus on:

–          Inclusive government and empowering marginalised groups such as minorities, women and youth, to increase their participation in the policy and decision making process and promote a culture of tolerance and anti-discrimination. Our gender modules are constantly being revised and updated according to the latest insights and experiences, e.g. by including the Gender Equality Scorecard by Learn4Dev.

–          Transparency and anti-corruption, to increase government accountability and improve conditions for economic growth. We observe an increasing push for open data through forums such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which can help local communities to push for more equitable development.

–          Economic and Social Development, through which private sector activities provide the local community with opportunities to develop (job creation, small businesses) and governments establish social safety nets for vulnerable groups in society.

–          Climate change and strengthening resilience, to promote sustainable growth strategies and help communities suffering from poverty and food insecurity caused by environmental and natural resource challenges. 

As the majority of the world’s poorest people live in countries affected by conflict, we will  also develop new initiatives aimed at stability, development and human security in these fragile states. Apart from our successful Peacebuilding & Local Governance course and our ongoing activities in South Sudan, Burundi and the Palestinian Territories, we are developing a new, six-week curriculum Good Governance and Rule of Law in fragile states that will be offered from January 2014 in The Hague. In this curriculum a variety of factors will be discussed that contribute to statebuilding from the bottom up.