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.