Construction of a European Network
for development education and awareness
raising on the Millennium Development Goals
in educational formai systems and local authorities

About Center for MDGs

The Context

The interdependence of northern and southern hemispheres and of the local and global aspect is strengthened by the international context, which is currently troubled by powerful social, economic and environmental imbalances, as well as processes of globalisation, and consequently the need to increase awareness and concrete action as regards the problems of development becomes evident.

Although cooperation alone cannot carry out all the changes required for development, it is an important instrument to face the challenge of sustainable human development and to contribute to the success of the Millennium Goals (MDGs).

A challenge that was clearly issued in September 2000 during the Millennium Summit, when 191 countries meeting at the United Nations Assembly committed themselves to freeing every human being from poverty and to making the right to development a reality for every single individual. These commitments, referred to as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are eight goals dealing with poverty, education, health and other fundamental rights which, together with other declarations by the United Nations, form a guide for all those organisations, whether they be national governments, international organisations or local governments and organised society, which propose to intervene using cooperation as the instrument for development.

One of the strategies indicated by the United Nations to achieve these results is a greater commitment by the international community as regards cooperation and at the same time the creation of a world network of partnerships as an instrument to achieve the Millennium Goals. 

The local governments and actors in the areas can play an important role in this global challenge, by committing their own abilities and resources in order to take part in these development goals, as well as by working hand in hand with governments and international organisations to sustain a new multilateralism, characterised by the synergy between the System of the United Nations, national governments and the various actors in the area.

Local authorities have gradually acquired a fundamental role in local development processes and this has simultaneously opened up the possibility for them not only to take the lead on an international level and to have an effect on the development processes, but also to intervene in international politics by means of decentralised cooperation. Decentralised cooperation is the combination of the initiatives of an international partnership promoted by local governments together with the actors in the area and represents an innovative way of managing international relationships between the areas.

It is a method of cooperation, which aims to create partnerships between area systems with the objective of mobilising resources, best practice and knowledge as an efficient, concrete answer, capable of generating innovation and exchange to support the processes of human development. Decentralised cooperation is an efficient instrument to set up a network that will link the actors, resources, and the common experiences and interests of North and South, enable the development of alliances and encourage the growth of solid, reciprocal, long-lasting, sustainable relationships between the areas concerned. It is an instrument of research into common interests and actions that encourage people to talk, to get to know one another and to show solidarity in order to identify shared paths of exchange, as well as political, economic, cultural and social growth.

Local governments, the actors of the area, schools, civil society and citizens can play an important role in achieving the Millennium Goals and in taking part in the global challenges for development, by promising their own resources and energy by means of local policies and decentralised cooperation, in order to contribute to the fight against poverty and to sustainable human development, by structuring their action with that of governments, international organisations and the multilateral framework. To structure decentralised cooperation around the multilateral framework within the area of the initiatives by the United Nations as a support strategy for local development is the expression of a new active multilateralism, which uses the role of the areas to promote a synergy between local and national governments, local and international actors and to guarantee greater efficacy and impact on the development processes. 
Activities to sensitise, inform and educate on these topics, together with Development Education within the educational systems are fundamental instruments for international cooperation, as they contribute towards the creation of the necessary conditions for a global commitment by European societies for sustainable human development and the fight against poverty. 

Details of the reflections and analyses that have led to the “Center for MDGs” project being devised are as follows:

  • lack of awareness by society of the problems concerning development, the interdependence of the northern and southern hemispheres, MDGs and other international challenges.  These gaps are one of the factors behind society’s feeble approval of public commitment in favour of developing countries and they also lie behind discriminatory behaviour towards migrants from those countries;
  • an insufficient, inconsistent and irregular commitment of resources by local European authorities for activities of decentralised cooperation aiming to support both sustainable human development and the fight against poverty;
  • the problems concerning the activities of Development Education in formal educational systems, such as the fragmentation of actions and the actors who put them into practice, the duplication of activities, inconsistency, the lack of a long-term programme, of a precise systemisation of the policies and a significant evaluation of their efficacy.

Taking all this into account, the “Center for MDGs” project intends to pay special attention not only to the role of local authorities, local actors, schools and citizens on the subject of sustainable human development and the fight against poverty, but also to the necessary actions of sensitisation, training and education as fundamental activities to create the conditions for a global commitment and approval from European societies. 

The “Center for MGGs” proposes to use Local Authority Funds for Cooperation as an effective instrument to promote and carry out the activities of decentralised cooperation and sensitisation, and to promote its structuring around the multilateral framework.

It will begin with the central role of local authorities within decentralised cooperation and communication with society, with the role of schools in the training of future generations, in order to increase awareness, approval and support among the main social actors and citizens as regards the topics of human development and the fight against poverty, with special attention to the Millennium Development Goals.