Capacity Building Workshop- Welcome Remarks by Dr. Peter Köppinger
DELGOSEA Partnership for Democratic Local Governance in Southeast Asia /www.DELGOSEA.eu
For more information on the DELGOSEA project, please visit www.delgosea.eu.
... More than 60 highly qualified experts from five countries have gathered here in order to stay here and be trained for eight full days. This is equivalent to 640 man-days, a very high input of valuable time and costs. What type of project is this to justify these enormous efforts?
It is a unique project, a project of high relevance for the people in Southeast-Asia. The integration of ASEAN is progressing in many different fields year by year, month by month – even if sometimes the pace is considered to be slow:
ASEAN is viewing to achieve the establishment of an Economic Community by 2015, transforming the 10 countries into a region with free movements of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and freer flow of capital. There is a ever more intensive cooperation on trade issues, and in August 2010 for the first time Regional Guidelines on Competition Policy have been published by the Association. During the last years cooperation has been strengthened on security matters, on climate change and on other issues of global concern. In 2009 after many years of negotiations a joint Human Rights Body has been established in order to harmonize human rights protection approaches in the different countries and to promote increased awareness and protection. All these developments are important for the people living in the region. But let us also have a look on the actual living conditions of the more than 600 Mio people living in the 10 member states:
Nearly 25% of them, about 150 Mio people, are still living in absolute poverty. The achievement of the development goals – i.e. the strong reduction of the number of people without access to clean drinking water and basic health and education facilities – is still far away. Millions and millions are struck every year by natural disasters for which the national and local governments and administrations in most of the 10 countries seem to be bad prepared. A majority of the populations are suffering under very poor public services in their hometowns and villages. Rampant corruption, lack of transparency and accountability are burdening the lives of the people at many localities. Human security is not assured, and in many cases further to pressure and violations from powerful individuals the security forces are part of the problem. Megacities have been growing in most of the member states with worsening living conditions for ordinary people. The last decades have shown all over the world that national governments are not able to solve these problems. And it is obvious that civil society and its organizations cannot solve them too – even if they can provide valuable contributions to possible solutions. Local administrations – municipalities, cities, provinces – are the key actors when it comes to viable concepts and solutions for the reduction of the suffering of hundreds of millions of people under these problems.
Fortunately enough, in spite of this widespread misery, there are already solutions available for many of these problems. In each country of the region responsible and courageous local leaders have been successful in addressing these problems. There are many good practice examples available. However, there has never been a systematic approach to exchange these experiences between local governments from different countries in the region, to learn from each other, to partner with each other in tackling these problems.
This is the unique character of this project. With the financial support of the European Union and funds of Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, originating from the German Government Budget, we have brought together this strong and colorful consortium of stakeholders – specialized, highly professional organizations like the Thai Environment Institute and the Philippine Local Government Development Foundation, 10 Local Government Associations from the five countries Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, the regional umbrella organization “United Cities and Local Governments – Asia Pacific Branch (UCLG-ASPAC)” and more than 30 best practice places and pilot municipalities in the five countries. The purpose is to set up with all of them a sustainable network in order to spread the existing best practice examples on democratic local governance from the five countries everywhere in the region for the benefit of the people.
But can this work? What is it that brings us together? What do we all have in common – the organizations and institutions included in this network and we here, the experts, managers, lecturers, coaches in this Training of Trainers?
We all believe in human dignity as the core value: Each and any citizen has the right to live a decent life, and the social and political structures have to serve this overall objective. We all believe in the right of self-determination of human beings which translates into the right of democratic participation of the citizens in their local communities. Without this democratic participation patronage structures and uncontrolled power will continue to make people suffer under so many problems. We all believe in the necessity of giving as many competences and decision making powers and shares of public funds as possible to local, democratically controlled administrations so that they can find tailored and suitable solutions for their specific localities and can encourage and mobilize people to commit themselves in solving problems, which public administrative structures and bodies cannot solve alone. We all believe in the necessity of good governance mechanisms in these local administrations. It is not enough to follow the democratic principle of majority decisions. There must be transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness in the actions of these local public administration, and watchdog mechanisms to ensure good governance. And finally, we all believe in a joint future of this very diverse region, ASEAN, and in the need of involving people and their local communities in the design and development of their joint future. This, dear partners and colleagues, is the beauty of this project. And let us never forget that its success in some years will be measured at two points:
(1) Have we been able to make a difference for the lives of the people in our pilot localities and
(2) Have we been able to set up a sustainable regional network in order to continue and extend this work to all parts of the region.
For more information on the project, will visit the website www.delgosea.eu
Dr.Peter Köppinger Philippines Country Representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and Project Director of DELGOSEA