The ACP-LG Platform
In May 2001 – during the 35th World Conference of the International Union of Local Authorities [IULA] held in Rio de Janeiro – a general meeting of ACP delegates formally established the ACP Local Government Platform, thereafter called the Platform, a representative structure to defend the interests of local governments from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in ACP-EU cooperation.
Those who were present during the formal establishment of the Platform in Rio de Janeiro are local government associations from the 6 regions of the ACP – PDM-AOC for Western and Central African regions, MDP-ESA for Eastern and Southern African regions, CALGA [Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities] and representatives of the Pacific local authorities; as well as continental/international local government organisations represented by AULA and CLGF [Commonwealth Local Government Forum]. Mayor Opong Fosu [of Ghana], then President of AULA, was its first Chairman.
The ACP-LG Platform is thus established to support the operationalisation of the Cotonou Agreement. Within this context, the ACP-LG Platform seeks to respond to a number of fundamental concerns:
The crisis of poverty – now a global challenge – as it grows in scope and intensity;
The worldwide recognition that democratic governance is an important component of good governance practices for poverty reduction;
The urgent need for governments and development partners to recognise, engage with, as well as contribute to capacity development of all actors in order to confront this crisis and work together to ensure that poverty does not become an engrained feature of our societies.
The imperative is to re-define the role of local government in national development policy programming and implementation, and most particularly in ACP-EU development cooperation.
From 2001 the Platform organised various rounds of consultation with EC officials in 2001, 2002 and 2004, meant to be informal exchanges of information, views, experiences as well as proposals for strengthening a mutually beneficial partnership in the context of the Cotonou Agreement. The round of 2004 was attended, in addition to EC officials, by representatives of the ACP Secretariat, ACP Committee of Ambassadors, EU Member States as well as various European local government associations.
Between May 2001 and March 2003, the Platform concentrated its initial efforts at securing funding to establish the structures as well as undertake activities necessary for operationalising the Cotonou Agreement regarding the role of local government. From the onset, it was quite clear that the Platform had to firstly address policy/legal/technical issues relating to mainstreaming the role of local government in ACP-EU cooperation. Beginning March 2003, some donors and key development partners were approached for support and this has received some positive responses. DFID [UK Department for International Development] was among donors approached and, in 2004, agreed to provide ‘seed funding’ over a 3-year period in order to help establish the ACP-LG Platform at the apex level.
In January 2005, the Platform organised a get-to-know-you introductory session to about 50 key partners coming from the EC, members of the European Parliament, the ACP Secretariat, ACP Committee of Ambassadors, EU Member States as well as European civil society and local government associations.
Since its inception, the Platform has met on various occasions. These meetings were attended by representatives of local government associations/institutions representing the 6 regions of the ACP Group. In addition, representatives of continental / international organisations of local government with direct relationship with the ACP also attended such meetings. The technical partner to the Platform and the Coordinator of the Platform were as well present. So far, the following representatives (representing various organisations in the ACP and beyond) have attended these meetings. They are:
Chairman of ACP-LG Platform: Charles Katiza (Zimbabwe/Southern Africa)
Representatives of national/regional associations of local government in the ACP: PDM-AOC – Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi (Cameroon/Central Africa – Secretary General) / Biram Owens Ndiaye (Senegal/West Africa – Executive Secretary); MDP-ESA – George Matovu (Uganda/East Africa – Regional Director); EALGA - Augustine Odipo (Tanzania/East Africa – Secretary General); ALAT – Basilius Nchimbi (Tanzania/East Africa – Secretary General); ULGA – John Emily Otekat (Uganda/East Africa – President) / Karazaarwe John Wycliffe (Uganda/East Africa – President) / Rafael Magyezi (Uganda/East Africa – Secretary General); CALGA – Mulchan Lewis (Trinidad & Tobago /Caribbean – Executive Secretary) / Robert Montague (Jamaica/Caribbean – President) / April Crowther-Gow (Bahamas/Caribbean – President); PNG ULLGA – Kaminiel Warkia (PNG/Pacific – Executive Director)
Representatives of continental/international organisation of local government relevant to the ACP: UCLGA – Father Mkhatshwa (South Africa/Southern Africa – President) / Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi (Cameroon/Central Africa – Secretary General); CLGF – Carl Wright (UK/Europe – Secretary General) / Terry Parker (UK/Europe – Pacific Regional Adviser); AIMF – Olivier Chambard (France/Europe – Permanent Secretary) / Laurent Jaboeuf (France/Europe – Chargé de mission)
Technical partner: ECDPM – Head of Strategy / Programme Coordinator: Governance
Coordinator of ACP-LG Platform – Lala Elisa Rafamatanantsoa
Subsequently a Coordinating Secretariat was set up in November 2004 with a Coordinator and an office in Brussels (8 Avenue E. Plasky, 1030 Brussels).