There is an overwhelming consensus that good urban governance is essential for the prosperity of a nation and its citizens. Kofi Annan states, “good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”
Good governance demands “the transparent and accountable management of human, natural, economic and financial resources for the purposes of equitable and sustainable development, in the context of a political and institutional environment that upholds human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.”
For governance to be effective, it must be participatory, transparent, accountable, equitable and meaningful. When a state governs effectively, its citizens are empowered. They gain a variety of political goods, such as security, civil and political rights and freedoms, the rule of law, political stability and pluralism, trust, public goods (such as roads and hospitals), and the efficient management of public resources.
The effective delivery of these goods by the state creates an institutional framework, providing citizens with “the correct freedoms and incentives to achieve” growth and development. The provision of such an institutional framework is the determinant of a strong state, as it alleviates poverty, advances development, and creates an environment within which citizens, and the nation as a whole, can prosper.
Governance is not simply about what decisions are made, but also who is involved in the decision-making process.
Good governance requires the participation of the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judiciary), as well as civil society and the media.
Legislators play a significant role in shaping the path and quality of local government and constituencies’ urban development, and having been elected every five years presents an excellent opportunity to influence local and national urban development policies and plans that favour controlled urbanization.
The challenge is to build the capacities of the newly elected members of parliament to become effective leaders, as evidence from best-practices shows that an enlightened and committed leadership can build effective institutions for responsive local development and good urban governance.
This flagship program at the Victoria University is prepared to build the capacities of newly-elected legislators in good urban governance and integrated development planning as a vehicle to sustainable development. This will be spearheaded by the university in partnership the Institute of Parliamentary Studies.
The program is critical in ensuring a smooth transition of political administration, strengthening local urban governance, and delivering better services through improved urban governance and integrated development planning.
As a capacity building program, it will focus on three areas:
- improving the knowledge of political leaders on the operations and development challenges of their respective constituencies and local governments:
- sharpening their management competencies and leadership skills in urban governance; and
- enhancing their awareness of the social, economic and political environment challenges affecting their constituencies.
At the same time, there is also need to enable the legislators to build alliances with national government agencies and local government units to ensure that their constituency development agenda is consistent with the national development plan and with the priorities at the national level. Its ultimate objective is to sharpen the capacities of the political leaders to achieve inclusive growth and reduce poverty in their communities.
The program is thus designed to respond flexibly to the demands of legislators within their term. The legislators are expected to determine their own learning needs and preferences and are encouraged to drive their own learning processes. To facilitate this, the program provides an opportunity to identify and map the capacity development gaps of the legislators.