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99 Ways to Build Transparency in Local Governance

UN-HABITAT and Transparency International launch Transparency Toolkit

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and Transparency International (TI) today launched Tools to Support Transparency in Local Governance. The publication is a guide for all urban stakeholders - policymakers, professionals, private sector, civil society organisations and concerned citizens - wishing to improve the quality of life in their cities.

The publication combines the knowledge and lessons from UN-HABITAT's extensive experience in the field of urban governance, with Transparency International's expertise in monitoring and combating corruption. TI is the world's leading non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption. A collection of 29 tools and nearly 70 case studies, this "Toolkit" will assist those interested in improving transparency, combating city level corruption and inefficiency, and promoting effective citizen participation.

"Big cities all over the world run most of the huge public projects prone to corruption - from social housing to basic infrastructure-building," said Miklos Marschall, TI Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. "It is therefore absolutely vital to offer citizens practical tools to monitor how public money is spent on such projects," said Marschall, former deputy mayor of Budapest, Hungary.

Diverse cities with a shared agenda?

At first glance it would seem that the municipality of Morón in Argentina would have little in common with the world heritage site of Bhaktapur in Nepal, or for that matter the city of Baltimore in the USA with the tiny village of Bellandur in southern India. Or six small municipalities of Kosovo with Alberta in Canada.

What these cities share is a conscious effort to improve governance, encourage public participation and tackle corruption through enhancing transparency at the local level. Both Morón and Bhaktapur have initiated locally adapted "Integrity Pacts" for transparent public procurement. Bellandur is the first village-level administration in India to introduce e-governance, dramatically reducing red tape and corruption. Baltimore has become a trendsetter in the use of technology to hold city officials accountable and to inform the general public of their civic rights. Six municipalities in Kosovo have introduced Front Offices in order to streamline complex administrative processes, making it easier for local government to be more responsive to the public. Similarly, Alberta has established a Complaints and Ombudsman Office to ensure speedy and effective handling of complaints and grievances.

These and many more examples, tools and references are included in Tools to Support Transparency in Local Governance.

A Global Campaign to eradicate poverty through improved governance

This Toolkit is the second in the Urban Governance Toolkit Series of UN-HABITAT's Global Campaign on Urban Governance. Launched in 1999, the Campaign aims to contribute to the eradication of urban poverty through improved urban governance. A key objective of the Campaign is to build capacity of local governments and other stakeholders to practice good urban governance, characterised by the principles of sustainability, subsidiarity, equity, efficiency, transparency and accountability, civic engagement and citizenship, and security. A wide range of tools and training materials have been developed, field-tested and adapted for application of these principles in various contexts. Some are aimed at effecting systemic change, while other are designed to prepare individual players to enhance their roles in promoting good urban governance.

The Global Campaign on Urban Governance is conducted in partnership with major international organisations active in the field of urban governance, poverty reduction and sustainable development, such as IULA, ICLEI, Transparency International, Commonwealth Local Government Forum, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, Huairou Commission and many others.

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