The transversal management of municipal development cooperation strategies

4. The transversality of municipal development cooperation strategies

As we have seen, development is a multidimensional phenomenon with many factors, not just economic ones. Furthermore, globalisation and interdependence between countries are leading to increasingly complex challenges that affect the international community as a whole which are trickling down to local level. Thus, these are issues that require a broader and more comprehensive approach and can only be addressed effectively from the municipal government as a whole. This will only be possible by opening up horizontal and relational dialogue between the cooperation unit and the other municipal agents.

At present, the complexity of the world’s current problems cannot be dealt with unilaterally and by a department cut off from the rest of the organisation. City councils need to get closer to their citizens and the reality they want to influence from different angles and areas of work, which will be achieved when development cooperation becomes transversal.


Education, youth, economic promotion, environmental policies, etc. need to be pursued that educate the groups to which they are addressed in the values and principles of a co-responsible global citizenship that is committed to the problems of development that affect humanity as a whole. To be effective, this can no longer be solely carried out from the point of view of development cooperation policy.

Another example is the progressive involvement of different areas of government in technical cooperation actions. This can lead to increased awareness and greater legitimacy of this policy across the corporation.

Transversality (Serra, 2004) is an organisational tool as well as a concept.

  • On the one hand, it is a system of organisational strategies and instruments that is applied within the classic sectoral structure that allows for adapting and providing a better response to a complex situation.
  • On the other hand, it refers to the commitment of the entire organisation to work towards certain goals from within the entire municipal structure.

Therefore, transversality, understood in the broadest sense of the word, will allow for the consolidation of a particular policy across the entire organisation (mainstreaming).

In the field of development cooperation, transversality is defined as a work strategy that integrates the objectives of this policy throughout the municipal government, so that it meets the challenges posed by global development from all competent areas and involving all the agents linked to the region. These areas will need to incorporate this approach to development cooperation into all phases of policy: diagnosis, design, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

This definition is assimilated into the principle of policy coherence for development, while, at the same time, transversality calls for the creation of organisational mechanisms that facilitate this integration of objectives and to foster the values of the policy of cooperation throughout the entire organisation.

Once the transversality of the cooperation policy is achieved, the city council will go from assuming a role solely as a distributor of resources to acquiring a dynamising and facilitating role, so cooperation will be geared towards reality as well as citizens in a more integral and holistic manner and will contribute to creating a truly supportive and transformative city policy.