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Published: 1 Jan 2011

District climate and energy plan (DCEP) preparation guideline

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Paper asserts that strengthening the institutional capacities of local governments is important for: 1) economic reasons (e.g. productive and allocative efficiency), 2) equity reasons (territorial and social equity); and 3) political reasons (e.g. elected officers' accountability to citizens, citizens' participation in decision- making, and democratisation of decision-making). This paper compares the experience of two decades of state reforms in seven Latin American countries (Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela), in order to analyse the factors that might explain what succeeded and what went wrong; and to draw some lessons for the future.


Strengthening local government institutional capabilities is important because:

  • in most cases, as a result of political reforms, mayors and other subnational public officers are now elected by their local constituencies
  • these public leaders are now accountable down-the-line to the local constituences that have elected them, and up-the-line to some central government agencies (and in some cases) to regional (subnational) governments
  • local governments cover the entire national territory of each country
  • the agency of local governments cuts across different economic sectors
  • in rural municipalities they have acquired important roles in farming and other agrifood-related activities
  • most central governments nowadays are favourable to strengthening the capacities of local governments to carry out enhanced public functions

Yet, to be successful the decentralisation of central government activities to local governments need some macro-political, macro-economic, and macro-institutional conditions. They are:

  • macropolitical conditions
    • the need for political commitment and social consensus
    • the need to formulate a comprehensive legislative framework
    • the need for a reform of the civil service

    macroeconomic and financial conditions

    • a relatively stable macroeconomic framework
    • the need for cohrence between national economic strategies, sectoral policies, and locally-based investment projects
    • financial conditions

    macroinstitutional conditions

    • the need to strengthen central government agencies, and to strike the appropriate balance between the responsibilities that should be assumed to the central government and those assumed by subnational entities
    • in rural areas in particular, a territorialised view of rural development should be created or strengthened

[From the author]

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M. Shretha

Focus Countries

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