Sensitization of the local government community on the Sustainable Development Goals

Whether it be a Development Agency or Government, everyone is looking to get “more bang for their buck”, that is, the visible results of their investment. Often times, the existing structures which are responsible for the provision of services are challenged by a range of factors. There is always the temptation to invest in large, highly visible infrastructure projects, however, the most meaningful interventions are often the least visible. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like its predecessor the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), provide a unique opportunity to measure progress towards achieving sustainability if its targets are used for results based decision making.

The European Union –Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) project: Trinidad and Tobago Pilot Project – Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals aims to get local government to work towards achieving the sustainable development goals. The First National Workshop was held on Friday 7th July, 2017 at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation and aimed to sensitize the local government community to the project, introduce the concept of the SDGs and their relevance to local government in Trinidad, present the finding of the diagnostic visits and have discussions on modern approaches to open space, local economic development and policy regulation. In opening remarks, Chairman Anthony Roberts lobbied local government to play a key role in achieving the SDGs. He noted that developing strategies to achieving SDG 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere) will be highly beneficial given the high levels of poverty in many municipalities.

L-R: Paul Leacock (Chairman, Tunpuna-Piarco Regional Corporation); Anthony Roberts (Chairman, TTALGA) and Sandra Singh – Programme Officer, CLGF.

One of the premises of the project is that improving the project management and data driven decision making capacity at municipalities could yield improved service delivery. Dr. Lennise Baptise presented her findings from Penal-Debe Regional Corporation and Sangre Grande Regional Corporation and noted that while these municipalities have a commitment to results based management, there were challenges in assessing the impacts of project and use the information to improve services in the future.

Dr. Perry Polar identified what indicators and targets were relevant to local government in Trinidad. Based on local government’s ability to make rules and standing orders, manage the repair of streets and paving of footpaths and collection of revenues, in principle, could impact the following targets:
1.5.4 Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies
9.1.1 Proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road
11.b.2 Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies
13.1.3 Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies
17.1.2 Proportion of domestic budget funded by domestic taxes

Dr. Perry Polar (R) fielding questions after his presentation on Indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) relevant to local government in Trinidad.

There were discussions on Open Space, Local Economic Development (LED) and the Regulatory Environment which included discussions on the pilot projects which the selected municipalities aimed to run. As a result of urbanization and other factors, large number of persons often find themselves unable to own their own property, hence the provision of, access to, and functionality of public space is increasingly important to discussions on urbanization. In the first panel discussion on Open space, Hillan Morean, Deputy Mayor for Port of Spain City Corporation, spoke about the Port of Spain pilot project which will focus on increasing accessibility for disabled persons including the blind and those in wheelchairs. This is likely to impact on Target 11.2.1 Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and persons with disabilities.

L-R: Hillan Morean (Deputy Mayor, Port of Spain City Corporation); Paul Leacock (Chairman, Tunpuna-Piarco Regional Corporation); Mayor Gopaul Boodhan (Chairman, Chaguanas Borough Corporation), Asad Mohammed, Director, CNULM and Strategic Consultant.

Sergio Agostini presenting on Analysis of Open Space in Port of Spain

Sergio Agostini from the University of the West Indies (UWI) indentifying the existing green space in Port of Spain and showed the distance persons in communities would have to travel to access green spaces. Notably, the largest green space (Queen’s Park Savanna) and most green spaces (parks) were in formal Port of Spain where the population was ageing while East Port of Spain had few green spaces. Although actual walking distance was not calculated it was noted that gang violence would make accessibility to green space even more problematic.

Urbanization creates both challenges and opportunities for wealth creation for urban dwellers. Shivdi Singh, LED consultant who was previously associated with the CARILED project and Stacy Ramroop from the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation spoke to the importance of LED strategies in achieving the SDGs and MSME activities under the CARILED project in the Sangre Grande area.

Shivdi Singh presenting on local economic development

Local government often faces pressure to perform from citizens. Often times, there are resource constraints, but also challenges in information management and project management. In the third panel, Allen Sammy, Chairman for Penal-Debe Regional Corporation spoke about the issues with development in the area. Shivani Deonarine presented about her project which developed a public participatory geographic information system which would allow the online interaction between the general public and staff at the municipality to identify and solve problems. Janise Mohammed presented on the topic of expansive soils and small building code. She noted that the southern areas of country had expansive soils which lead to cracking of improperly build foundations and houses. She also noted that research has shown, however, that issues associated with soil and built development can be mitigated by land use planning, building standards and effective governance.

Planning for the project management workshops is on the way.

Global goals, Local action – Trinidad & Tobago

The Trinidad and Tobago Association of Local Government Authorities (TTALGA) and Caribbean Network of Urban and Land Management (CNULM) have partnered to execute the Trinidad and Tobago leg of the project “Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals in the Caribbean”. This project was developed by the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and supported by the European Union.

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As Trinidad and Tobago gears up its infrastructure to meet the 2030 global targets in the Sustainable Development Goals, as it did for the Millennium Development Goals, it must ensure a harmonious relationship between those entities which act nationally and those which act locally. Local government is the closest point of interaction between the State and the citizens as it critically important as it is responsible for many things which make daily living in communities possible.

For example, local government is responsible for developing and maintaining minor infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, drains, watercourses and bridges. Effective delivery of this function will help in the achievement of SDG 9 Build resilient infrastructure to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation assuming that there is an increase in the SDG indicator 9.1.1 Proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road. Similarly, local government is responsible for public spaces and disaster management, hence, achievement of SDG 11 Make Cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable can be supported by increasing the proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (indicator 11.b.1) and increasing the average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities (indicator 11.7.1).

This project aims to create awareness of the SDGs among local government practitioners and how they can play a role in contribution to national achievement of these goals. It also aims to gain a better understanding of the strengths and challenges of the local government institutions and through tailored training and practical experience from executing a pilot project, it aims to improve project prioritization, project management systems, understanding of the development and monitoring of indicators and project evaluation.

It is hoped that through this exercise local government authorities will become more effective in the delivery of services particularly though improvements in the ability to measure and monitor their effectiveness through indicator systems. It is worth noting that, given the closeness of the relationship, between local government officials and persons in communities, that local government can potentially be the most important tool of data collection for decision making purposes.

The project started on 1st April 2017 and is expected to end in March 2018. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding occurred on the 26th April 2017 between TTALGA and CNULM.

signing of MOU 2

L-R: Sandra Singh (Programme Officer, CLGF-Caribbean), Antony Roberts (Chairman, TTALGA), Martin Terry Rondon (Chairman, Sangre Grande Regional Corporation), Perry Polar (Project Coordinator, CNULM), and Sherry-Ann Ollivierre (Administrative Secretary, TTALGA)

This project works directly with the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, Penal-Debe Regional Corporation and the Port of Spain City Corporation as these corporations have a rural, peri-urban and urban typology respectively and thus lessons learnt can be tailored to other local areas. Also participating in dialogues are the Ministry of Planning and Development and other relevant government authorities and individuals.

On Monday 29th May 2017, staff at the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation (SGRC) hosted representatives from TTALGA and CNULM for a diagnostic visit. Given their past experience with the CARILED project, the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation was asked to take the lead on Local Economic Development (LED) targeting SDG 1 – Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere by taking a multi-dimensional view of poverty but also SDG 6 – Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and SDG 11 – Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The meeting used the example of an app for tourism sites in Sangre Grande discussed the project management requirements of executing such a project.

SGRC - Diagnostic Visit Collage

Final frame: L-R: Angela Guerra (CEO – SGRC); Stacy Ramroop (LED Officer –SGRC), Keston Ali (Engineer- SGRC), Martin Rondon (Chairman, SGRC), Daneille Marshall-Piper (Alderwoman SGRC), Heimchan Baboolal (SGRC), Anil Juteram (Councillor – SGRC), Sherry-Ann Ollivierre (TTALGA), Harrison Phillips (TTALGA); Lenisse Baptiste (CNULM), Perry Polar (CNULM).

A similar visit on 7th June 2017 was hosted by the Penal-Debe Regional Corporation whose emphasis is on SDG 11.3 by 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacities for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlements planning and management as well as SDG 16.6 develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. No specific project was finalized. However, presentations were made by Shivanie Deonarine of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on an interactive online tool for residents to identify problems and communicate with authorities. Janise Mohammed, also from UWI, and Dr. Roopnarine spoke extensively on expansive clays in the region and the need to develop a tool to advise potential homeowners on the appropriate remedial action or foundations based on soil type to avoid future “cracking” in houses.

On 9th June 2017 the Port of Spain City Corporation hosted its diagnostic visit. The focus would be on SDG 3 Ensure Health Lives and promote well being for all as well as SDG 11.7 by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities. Discussions on public space indicated that the legislation that govern public space leans more towards being exclusive rather than inclusive to allow persons “rights to the city” and that there is social segregation in the use of public space which have evolved through norms rather than written rules. It was recognized that pedestrianization of streets have lead to increase in business rather than a decrease and it is a management issue rather than a resource issue in Trinidad as it is done every year for Carnival.

A national workshop is being planned for July to share experiences with the wider community. This will be followed by three training workshops and execution of the pilot projects.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project. This collaborative effort would not only lead substantive change within local government authorities but, establish benchmarks and processes for future local government projects. For further information, email: info@bluespacecaribbean.com