02/11/2022 – The contribution of local and regional authorities has been a key factor underpinning Ukraine’s societal resilience in the face of Russia’s war of aggression, according to a new OECD report.
Rebuilding Ukraine by Reinforcing Regional and Municipal Governance says further strengthening the capacity of local and regional authorities will be vital to the country’s post-war reconstruction and for building a stronger, greener and more inclusive recovery.
The report shows that the resilience of Ukraine’s regions and municipalities owes much to the success of the regional development and decentralisation reforms implemented since 2014. The reforms resulted in the merging of over 10 000 local councils into 1469 municipalities with new administrative powers and were bolstered by public funding for regional and local development that trebled in real terms between 2015 and 2019. The report notes that, thanks to the decentralisation reform, subnational authorities have been empowered to adapt emergency responses to local needs to better protect civilians, and to use funds and direct support more efficiently.
The report says that the reforms, part of a broader political, administrative and fiscal decentralisation process, also improved access to, and the quality of, local public services, while revitalising the country’s local democracy. Over 70% of the municipalities surveyed by the OECD prior to the war reported improvements in the quality of administrative and social services.
Since the beginning of Russia’s war, regional and municipal governments, at the forefront of civil defence, have been vital to the war effort. Municipalities, for example, are using administrative service centres, created as part of the recent decentralisation reforms, to register internally displaced people, provide them with access to social benefits, and co-ordinate humanitarian aid.
“Rehabilitating and rebuilding destroyed public infrastructure is an urgent priority. With subnational governments on the frontline of responses now and in the future, further strengthening local capacity to design, implement and monitor recovery projects will be essential,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said.
To achieve this, the report recommends in priority to:
- involve regions and municipalities in designing and implementing recovery plans and funding mechanisms;
- streamline regional development funding mechanisms, to avoid complexity and spreading resources too thinly;
- strengthen municipal skills in areas needed for post-war reconstruction, such as strategic planning, project appraisal, procurement, and transparency;
- establish national and local-level mechanisms to ensure transparency in the use of recovery funding by regional and local governments; and
- verify that reconstruction objectives are being met by setting up a robust performance monitoring platform.