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How we decide and who gets to decide often determines what we decide…..
The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).
Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
First, that governance refers to processes – how things are done, not just what is done.
Second, that discussion of governance requires more than a focus on government. It also relates to the nature of relations between state and society.
Governance refers to the
nature of rules that regulate the public realm– the space where state and economic and societal actors interact to make decisions.
Governance as “steering”……
“It is a joint enterprise between elected officials, their citizens and their organizations. Governance therefore entails a meaningful partnership between the state, civil society and the people who comprise it, and the private sector. “
“Governance entails, especially, the state sharing with civil society the responsibility for policy making and implementation and all the partners being accountable to their constituencies, to each other and to society as a whole.”
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) defines governance as the exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels.
“Governance is a neutral concept comprising the mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences.” (UNDP)
Six main ‘arenas’ of governance:
i. Civil Society, where citizens raise and become aware of political issues; ii. Political Society, where societal interests are aggregated; iii. Government, executive stewardship of the system as a whole; iv. Bureaucracy, where policies are implemented; v. Economic Society, refers to state-market relations; and vi. Judiciary, where disputes are settled.
URBAN GOVERNANCE ACTORS
Identifying stakeholders in governance
Governments or governing institutions –
also known as the state - according to UNDP, include governing institutions - legislatures, judiciaries and electoral bodies.
The public sector,
according to UNDP, embraces the civil service, economic and financial management and urban management.
The private sector
includes profit-oriented businesses and corporations.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs),
sometimes called the voluntary sector or the Third Sector. These are also known as citizens’ associations, peoples’ organizations, or NGOs.
include the media, trade unions, religious institutions, social movements, and academia.
as the institutional forms that occupy the space between government and business. It is the space we occupy when we are engaged neither in government (voting, jury service, paying taxes) nor in commerce (working, producing, shopping, consuming). And it is a space defined by such activities as attending church or synagogue, doing community service, participating in a voluntary association, contributing to a charity, assuming responsibility in a Parent-Teacher Association or a neighborhood crime watch or a hospital fund-raising society.
“Civil society is thus public without being coercive, voluntary without being privatized.”
can be found in each stakeholder group. They bring knowledge and experience to bear on the full range of issues related to governance.
are the basic building block of civil society. They include the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and the vulnerable and the young
refers to all citizens (including government) who share a sense of place, purpose and communal values. Its spatial boundaries can be as small as a classroom or as large as the planet. It can be a rural village, an urban centre, a neighborhood, a watershed, an ecosystem, a coastal zone, an Aboriginal homeland, a state, a province or a country.
“Good governance is the joint responsibility of players in the public sector, the corporate private sector, and civil society at national, international, multinational and multilateral levels.”
“Good governance is about pursuing and promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens at all times, while equally respecting and according due protection to those who may hold a different view.”
(Hope Chigudu and Ezra Mbogori )
Six Core Principles of Good Governance (ODI)
the degree of involvement by affected stakeholders. • Fairness : the degree to which rules apply equally to everyone in society. • Decency: the degree to which the formation and stewardship of the rules is undertaken without humiliating or harming people.
• Accountability: the extent to which political actors are responsible to society for what they say and do. • Transparency: the degree of clarity and openness with which decisions are made. • Efficiency: the extent to which limited human and financial resources are applied without unnecessary waste, delay or corruption.
Arena Civil Society Political Society Government Bureaucracy Economic Society Judiciary Indicator Freedom of expression Freedom of assembly Free and fair elections Civil-military relations Commitment Transparency Accountability Limited corruption Impartial judgment
According to UNDP, good governance addresses the allocation and management of resources to respond to collective problems. It is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law.
Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decisionmaking over the allocation of development resources.
Good governance also recognizes that governance is exercised by the private sector and civil society, as well as the state, all of which have important roles to play in promoting sustainable human development.
Good governance is viewed as a prerequisite to the achievement of sustainable human development. The relationships among the state, private sector and civil society determine whether a nation can create equitable opportunities for its people. And the role of government is central to this endeavor.
According to UNDP, government must be efficient, have legitimacy in the eyes of the people, build national consensus around its stated objectives, and foster a strong social fabric.
Characteristics of Good Governance (UNDP)
The Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) notes that: "…the key to providing opportunities for all citizens to enjoy productive and fulfilling lives…is ensuring that the triangular paradigm of economic growth, social cohesion and good governance is kept in balance."
Further, “…… the quality of the institutions that support government policymaking is as important as that of the policies themselves. Good governance is essential for strengthening democracy; promoting economic prosperity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability; and maintaining confidence in public institutions.”
Key Governance Challenges
Space for civil society is increasingly open. However, public input into policy remains quite limited. Peoples’ views tend to be ignored or misrepresented.
Most striking here is the low rating for the accountability of legislators. The respondents noted that legislators tend to ignore the public’s interests and that many legislators run for office because of financial advantages. Decision-making processes are often not clear and patronage remains prevalent in the public realm.
The good news here is that in many countries the military is increasingly seen as subordinate to civil government. There are also interesting findings on regime type. Governments can gain legitimacy from strong development performance. On its own, being elected is not a guarantee of legitimacy.
Ratings for the accountability and transparency of the bureaucracy are generally low. Since bureaucratic accountability and transparency are central for delivering services to the public, they deserve further attention as countries push to achieve the MDGs.
‘Right from birth to death nothing happens without bribery and corruption. People can neither live nor die with dignity.’ (A governance expert in India)
There are major concerns regarding the quality of justice systems. One is that ‘money buys justice’. A second refers to inefficiency and the slow processing of cases – a common view is that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. A third highlights that many of the poor and illiterate people fear to approach the courts
Other Key Factors for Good Governance
Technical and managerial competence Organizational capacity Reliability, predictability and the rule of law Accountability Transparency and open information systems Participation
3. How important is governance to achieving national/regional development? 2. What is your own thinking about “good” governance?
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