The Hague Academy: Acting locally on development
Text: Colette Davidson | Photos: The Hague Academy For Local Governance
Real change and development starts at a local level. That’s why The Hague Academy for Local Governance is dedicated to creating comprehensive training for professionals looking to improve their understanding of local governance issues. The non-profit organisation welcomes people from around the world in teaching about economic development, social services, local finances, citizen participation and more.
Creating more stability within communities by strengthening the knowledge and skills of governments and citizens are all essential components to leading a thriving society. And while national policies are important, strong local governance is a key factor in ensuring that governments operate in an effective and transparent way.
At The Hague Academy for Local Governance, leaders from developing and post-conflict societies can benefit from in-house and tailor-made trainings in order to learn better ways of governing.
The non-profit was founded in 2006 and began operations in 2008, in response to the demands of several regions in transition, such as Eastern Europe and Africa, where many countries were moving towards decentralised governments.
“Many responsibilities [in these regions] devolved to the local level,” says Cecile Meijs, director of The Hague Academy for Local Governance. “But people didn’t have the skills or resources to take on the new responsibilities, so there was a large need for knowledge in those parts of the world.”
Now, the non-profit holds between ten and 12 trainings in The Hague per year, for professionals from national and regional governments, local NGOs, donor and development organisations and those working on local issues within international NGOs. In addition, tailor-made training is given both in The Hague and abroad.
The Academy’s staff of 20 international experts within the Hague, along with a number of external international and local consultants, teach myriad topics on everything related to local governance: social services, economic development, gender responsiveness, inclusion governance and local finances. They also lead peace-building training, with the goal of creating more social cohesion.
And even if the training welcomes participants from diverse backgrounds and cultures, it utilises universal concepts that can be applied to any leader in local government.
“The people coming to our open courses are from all over the world,” says Ms Meijs. “What is special is that no matter if they’re from the Philippines, Zambia or Colombia, they all face similar challenges and come with similar goals. And they leave as friends.”
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