Urban Governance:
Need of the Day

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series E-045. April 2015.


n recent dialogues on urban management, 'good urban governance' has received currency along with other key tools such as decentralization and local autonomy. Various local, national, regional and international organizations have undertaken considerable efforts to incorporate the tenets of good urban governance in realizing sustainability in cities, and meet the challenges of rapid urbanization and local environmental degradation.

Defining Good Governance

Along with the development of the concept of good governance, its definitions, attributes and indicators have also envolved. Good urban governance has been defined as an inclusive process in achieving a quality of life sought by the residents of cities, especially the disadvantaged, marginalized and poor.

The operational keywords of governance - and consequently its goals - have been applicability, equity, acceptability, and ownership of governance processes at the local level. This calls for the development of a framework or matrix within which cities and urban stakeholders can assess and prioritise governance indicators to measure urban governance performance.

Governance is about accessibility, accountability, transparency and efficiency ...
Education and Raising Awareness

The many facets of good urban governance and its relevance to all aspects of city management and the delivery of urban goods and services calls for in-depth efforts to educate and raise awareness on issues related to governance at all levels of a city or urban area, from a community to a region. These efforts need to develop ownership of governance at the local level to ensure acceptability and effective implementation.

To build on existing and ongoing efforts to incorporate the tenets of good urban governance in city management (policies, programmes, projects, and plans) requires action by all urban stakeholders and the development of a set of tools and resources, and for broad capacity building in good urban governance.

Information and Knowledge Resources

There is a need to facilitate the internalisation of the concept of good urban governance, in order to build understanding and capacity at the local level, by developing a range of information and knowledge resources to assist us in these processes. Guidelines, checklists and benchmarks need to be developed that will guide in the application of good urban governance.

Training sessions, short-term courses and on-the-job education need to be organized in order to ensure professional development of urban officials and of the general public they interact with and serve. Dialogues also need to be initiated amongst various local stakeholders on good urban governance

To achieve this, local governments will have to partner with other local authorities, training and research institutions, NGOs and community groups, private sector entities, national agencies and ministries, and UN agencies. Local and regional partners will have to be identified for this purpose, and develop appropriate governance resources and tools.

Good Governance Indicators

Focusing on broad involvement and inclusiveness in good urban governance, there is a need to educate and build awareness on the tenets of good governance, by developing a 'governance inventory' that will document and package information on good governance practices. This can be operationalized by developing a framework within which common indicators can be used to document best practices on good governance.

Figure 1: Interplay of Governance Stakeholders

Wide acceptance and ownership of the concepts and tents of governance need to be garnered, and the effective sharing and dissemination information on good governance practices. To achieve this, local governments will have to partner with a range of local and international organizations, including local authorities citizens groups, NGOs, and UN agencies - and formulate a common framework for good governance, along with a governance inventory.

Participation and Partnership

Focussing on local action, multi-stakeholder coalitions will have to be built that monitor and evaluate actions towards good governance, and will advise and guide implementation. To do this, broad participation and partnership among all local stakeholders in the development of good urban governance will have to be ensured at the local level.

Efforts towards institutional and administrative reform will have to be initiated, and is widely accepted and implemented. Action for networking and resource sharing will have to be taken so that the intended impacts of good governance is achieved.

Figore 2: Operationaling Good Governance

Auditing and Evaluation

Finally, mechanisms for third-party auditing and evaluation of programmes and actions will have to be put into place. To achieve this, local governments will have to partner with NGOs and citizens groups, with other cities in the country and region, and with private sector entities. A set of monitoring and evaluation tools will have to be developed to guide implementation, and to identify appropriate partners and resources who can assist in these processes.

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