Report wants more importance local governments in Millennium Goals

October 2009 -

Local administrators are scarcely assigned a role in strategies for obtaining the Millennium Goals. Culture has also failed to be included as a permanent point on the development agenda. A recently-published report – Culture, Local Governments and the Millennium Development Goals – by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) advocates changes and provides city governments and cities with relevant instruments.

An important attempt at getting local authorities and culture involved in the development goals is the Millennium Goals Achievement Fund (MDGF), established in 2006 by the Spanish government and the UN. Coordinator José Antonio González Mancebo explains in the report that the fund is used to finance cultural projects that contribute to local development. "Restructuring a public space does not contribute to development in itself. What is important is whether the space is in a marginalised area, or a safe place is created for women and children or improves opportunities for a crafts market, for example."

Nil Sismanyazici-Navaie, founder of Arts for Global Development, offers concrete steps that local administrators can take in creating a favourable environment for cultural enterprises. She considers this important tool for strengthening the local economy. According to Amareswar Galla, 'sustainable cultural development' demands a holistic approach. Nature and culture are a single whole and do not conflict. An appropriate example is the Ha Long Eco Museum project in Vietnam. Not only culture, history and the traditions of the local population but also the plants and caves on the island were considered part of the local heritage, and that is what made it a success.

The Millennium Development Goals were distilled from a declaration adopted by the General UN Assembly in 2000. Never before have so many world leaders signed a UN document. The eight goals, varying from halving extreme poverty to preventing illnesses like hiv/aids and malaria, are to be achieved by 2015.