The United Nations (UN) has of late been debating the new international development
framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) post–2015.
This process has been popularly referred to as the post-2015 development agenda. It is a
fact that many of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that have been identifi ed will
impact on the role and responsibilities of local government, namely, poverty reduction;
access to water and sanitation; health; education; economic growth; development of
cities and human settlements; and resilience to climate change. A critical issue that
was highlighted when the MDGs were introduced in 2000 was the implementation
modalities as it was felt that the process and goals were primarily top down (CLGF
2014:3). Consequently, there has been strong advocacy for local government to be a
key implementation partner in the achievement of the new sustainable development
goals that would have been finalised in September 2015 (www.worldwewant2015.org/
localising2015; CLGF 2014:3; www.capacity.undp.org; Slack 2014:1).
Key aspects of the debate and discussion to date have been how to localise the new
development framework, evaluate the local impact of the future SDGs and ensure
that the local dimension is prioritised and successfully implemented (UNDP 2014a:3).
There is a firm belief that the issue of localisation has to extend beyond national,
provincial/state/regional implementation and there should be a focus on how the new
development agenda will be implemented locally and the implications for the local level
of government in this regard. According to the UN, localisation denotes the “process
of defining; implementing; and monitoring strategies at the local level for achievable
global, national and subnational sustainable goals and targets” (UNDP 2014a:3). This
process would involve the utilisation of distinct tools, mechanisms, strategies, platforms
and innovations to ensure that the development agenda is effectively translated into
firm action and concrete results at the local level to benefit communities. It is envisaged
that it will be an inclusive process and will move beyond the municipal jurisdiction to
draw in relevant stakeholders to create a strong and capable local authority. Viewed in this context, localisation is an integral part of the multilevel governmental system and
more so in terms of attaining the sustainable development goals that will be shortly
adopted by the international community (CLGF 2014:3).