BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in collaboration with the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) Secretariat in the Ministry of Interior has organized the “Local Development Forum and Launched the Local Development Outlook on Cambodia” on July 1st in Phnom Penh.
The event was presided over by H.E. Sak Setha, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interior and Head of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) Secretariat, Mr. Douglas Broderick, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Elena Tischenko, UNDP’s Country Director, and the senior government officials from national and sub-national levels, and representatives of UN agencies, Development Partners, academic institutions and civil society organizations.
The participants have discussed local development through different angles, including from the perspective of decentralization, development partners, the private sector, national and sub-national government, and an international perspective.
H.E. Sak Setha said that there is a need to combine improved local governance and local development. This is one of the key outcomes the government expects from the implementation of the National Program for Sub-National Democratic Development over the next 10-year period.
“Today we are gathering to address an important dimension of the vast D&D reform that is currently underway in Cambodia and that is Local Development. Today’s Forum is critically timed as we need partnerships in implementing the reform. The publication Local Development Outlook helps us to think strategically about these partnerships. But more so, how these partnerships can be the cornerstone to promote local development,” he said during his opening remarks at the launching ceremony.
He added: “As we prepare the first three-year Implementation Plan (called IP3) of the National Program, it appears clearly that the reform is an enormous challenge for all of us. It will require “a whole of government approach”: this means that several key sub-programs within the IP3 will be led by different Ministries and Agencies.”
He said that participation in the NP implementation will expand to other public and private entities. As the whole of government reform takes place; there will be a need for local communities, with their elected councils, to create lasting partnerships with the private sector, NGOs and civil society to promote local development.
“We have to keep in mind that for true “Sub-national Democratic Development” to evolve there will be a need to combine improved local governance and local development. This is one of the key outcomes we expect from the implementation of the National Program over the next 10-year period,” he said.
Mr. Douglas Broderick, United Nations Resident Coordinator, said that this Local Development Outlook on Cambodia is a comprehensive document to guide UNDP’s efforts in assisting in the development of Cambodia. It aimed at providing a tool to improve our understanding of why development and occurs in some places and not in others, and what can be done about it.
He stated that over the past decade Cambodia has made a lot of progresses in maintaining stability, implementing reforms, and realizing economic growth. But as a least developed country (LDC), it continues to face challenges.
“The Local Development Outlook we are launching today provided a comprehensive analysis of local development trends and a rigorous review of policy and governance arrangements,” he said. “We hope it will provide a valuable tool to assist the Royal Government of Cambodia in meeting the challenges and opportunities of its citizens. We, development partners, will continue to work with Cambodia towards achieving those objectives.”
He added that as noted in the recent UNDP report Beyond the Midpoint: Achieving the MDGs, progress and lack of progress toward achieving MDGs is often dependent on local circumstances. Local circumstances have influencing factors both negative and positive on the outcomes of development.
“This is what we call a ‘localized’ approach an approach which builds on local knowledge to provide more effectively the public goods as needed in different places and in a way that help policy makers to tap unexploited potential and opportunities for local economic diversification and development,” he said.
The Local Development Outlook includes country maps of areas of unexploited potential, he said, adding that this helps to visualize where such potential, such as historical sites, protected areas and mineral deposits, is concentrated, which in turn, will help shape strategies that can transform this into benefits for residents of these areas.
Elena Tischenko, UNDP Country Director, said the successful local development depends on the availability such data, as well as strong political will and commitment both from local governments and communities. Furthermore, it required enhancing local level capacities to handle data collection and analysis, planning and budget, as well as monitoring and response. In this way, these processes must become closely embedded in national and sub-national process.
“The UNDP stands committed to working with the government to move in this new direction. Finally, is also important that we view today’s event not as an isolated activity, but as one step in the process that will lead to sustainable local development that makes the Cambodia’s local potential and minimizes regional disparities,” she said. /