Decentralization conference in Mexico seeks to strengthen municipal governance

Giving cities and towns more power to act locally was the focus of a major event held by Mexico’s government in Oct. 2008.

Forum Chairman Arnold Koller and Forum President George Anderson delivered key addresses at the gathering in Guanajuato, Mexico.

The meeting was the Fifth International Conference on Decentralization in Mexico (Desde Lo Local), a co-ordinated effort by more than 10 federal government departments.

Desde Lo Local brought together more than 4,000 participants including six governors and 1,000 mayors, as well as senior cabinet secretaries from more than 20 state governments.

Representatives participated as well from state and municipal associations, and international organizations as did a number of leading academics and national editorialists.

Several high-level officials inaugurated the event including Juan Camilo Mourino, then the Secretary of the Interior.

The strengthening of municipal government is a response to the extreme centralism that has characterized Mexican governments for decades.

The annual Desde Lo Local conferences provide an opportunity for the three orders of government in Mexico to meet and measure the progress of decentralization processes. Thematic workshops this year focused on public security, transparency, water, competitiveness and education.

The Forum of Federations contributed to the event by providing international speakers.

Dr. Arnold Koller, Chairman of the Forum’s Board of Directors and a former president of Switzerland, delivered a keynote address on the significant role played by local governments in Switzerland; while George Anderson, President and CEO of the Forum of Federations, delivered a plenary address on federalism and local government in the 21st Century. Additional presentations were made by representatives from Australia and India.

The purpose of the participation of four senior Forum representatives in the Desde Lo Local event was to heighten the awareness of Mexican officials of international experiences with decentralization – with the broad objective of supporting and improving the practice of federalism in Mexico.

The event took place from October 29–31, 2008. Partners in the event include the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Mexico (Secretaría de Gobernacion), INAFED (National Institute for Federalism), the State Government of Guanajuato and the Municipal Government of Leon, Guanajuato.

Read Dr. Koller’s address (PDF in German).

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