The ACP-LG Platform
When governments in the ACP countries came up with a development partnership with the European Union (EU) years back they did not include local government (LG). In theory local governments were assumed to participate in ACP-EU development cooperation. In practice this was not the case.
From 1994 , the African Union of Local Authorities [AULA] started to lobby for the inclusion of local government in the Lomé IV Convention and any successor Agreement. AULA also understood that they needed to team up together as local governments with their colleagues from the Caribbean and the Pacific in the endeavour. In May 1994 AULA started in earnest to organise consultations that led to the establishment of the Platform while the actual establishment took place in Rio de Janeiro in May 2001.
The establishment of the Platform was further aided by the December 1999 seminar in Brussels organised by the European Commission (EC) and the ACP Secretariat which consisted of a two-day strategic dialogue between a selected group of representatives from African and EU local government organisations and Commission/ACP Secretariat officials on ways and means to build a stronger partnership between the EC and local government actors in the ACP and in Europe. This meeting was the result of both the political evolution in ACP countries – characterised by new forms of governance and the mainstreaming of decentralisation – and the promising new opportunities offered by the negotiations of a successor agreement to the Lomé IV Convention – which aimed at extending partnership to a wide range of decentralised actors. The objectives of the seminar were threefold:
· To review past cooperation experiences between the EC and local government actors;
· To define possible building blocks of a stronger partnership between the EC and local government in the context of the Post-Lomé IV negotiations;
· To explore the relevance and feasibility of setting up an ACP Local Government Platform of local government associations.
The status of the seminar was that of an informal strategic dialogue which ended up with a memorandum including various conclusions. Amongst the major conclusions agreed during the seminar was a plan to gradually set up a full-fledged and operational Platform to represent the interests of local governments in ACP-EU cooperation, among other things by seeking to extend the process to local government associations in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The memorandum also defined guiding principles to strengthen partnership relations between the EC and local governments in ACP-EU cooperation.
At the 1999 seminar, AULA was tasked to prepare the groundwork to set up a framework of representation for local governments in the ACP to further operationalise the mandate, organisational structure and working methods of the ACP local government Platform.
The Harare Workshop – organised by AULA in February 2001 and attended by AULA members, PDM-AOC [Partenariat pour le Développement Municipal pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et Centrale] and MDP-ESA [Municipal Development Partnership in Eastern and Southern Africa] – produced the structure of the Platform that included the Caribbean and the Pacific and recommended a meeting of the ACP local government delegates to the Rio de Janeiro World Conference. During the workshop AULA was mandated to facilitate and coordinate the establishment of the ACP Local Government Platform.