The transversal management of municipal development cooperation strategies

1. Municipal development cooperation: a model that pursuits the coherence and transversality

The development cooperation fostered by local administrations is a differentiating factor in Catalonia and in Spain, whether in terms of the number of resources allocated or for the distinctive model it promotes.

Even though initially resources were often handed over to NGDOs through public calls for subsidies to run their projects, little by little, and in parallel with the sustained 0.7% growth of budgets throughout the economic boom at the turn of the century, municipalities started shaping their own public policy which was more strategic and coherent with the city model, with a vocation to mobilise the different agents with potential to contribute their capabilities and potential while seeking a return as a tool for social transformation.

In spite of cooperation being organic rather than different from other local policies and having been seen as somewhat secondary, it has increasingly sought complementarity, synergies and joint efforts with other areas and corporate departments as the first step towards transversalisation.

Development education and global citizenship, ethical public procurement, fair trade, reception of asylum-seekers, promoting peace and a human rights-based approach have become key lines of municipal policies of cooperation, which are rolled out in cooperation with other departments (mainly education, recruitment, new citizenship, and social affairs, among others) and which respond to a desire for consistency and transversality of cooperation policy. Moreover, technical cooperation is nourished by the knowledge and specialisation on certain sectoral issues that local corporations acquire.

Nevertheless, over the years, these approaches have somewhat stagnated; in many cases not going beyond the collaboration and timely coordination between various sectors of the Administration for specific actions. This is likely due to the setback suffered by this local policy brought about by the last financial crisis and the lack of a clear mandate, but also due to the lack of effective transversal management instruments that channel the different expertise towards a common goal with a view to making this broader and more comprehensive approach possible.