Effective decentralization and accountable governance institutions at all levels provide one of the most important avenues for people—including the poor, women and minorities—to participate in the development of their communities and to influence the decision-making processes that are directly relevant to their lives. As a result, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda recognizes the importance of building “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

Decentralization and localization can be defined as the empowerment of people through the empowerment of the local public sector.

In addition, global consultations on the localization of sustainable development–including in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals–have identified local governments and territorial administrative bodies as key actors for delivering pro-poor public services at the local level and accelerating poverty reduction. In many countries, however, the public sector is weakest where it is closest to the people.

Because decentralization and localization are complex and multi-dimensional in nature, it is impossible to capture all details and aspects of a decentralized governance system into a single measure or even along a single spectrum. Based on the LoGICA Framework, the research and analysis on decentralization and localization can broadly be divided into five topic areas:

Different countries rely on different functional assignments to deliver public services to the people. Similarly, each country has its own political, administrative and fiscal institutional arrangements at the local level. Finally, considerable variation exists between countries in the mechanisms used to ensure community participation in the delivery of front-line services.