Decentralized Cooperation

Decentralised cooperation refers to the cooperation of sub-national governments, in parallel with State-to-State cooperation, with particular objective and location. It involves cities, regions, and associations around the world collaborating together as equals and building mutually beneficial partnerships based on the exchange of knowledge, assistance and best practices. Various forms of cooperation are taking place, including city-to-city and association-to-association cooperation, and South-South and Triangular Partnerships. It has contributed to reinforcing local authorities’ capacities, and to strengthening their ability to develop innovative policies adapted to their specific contexts and needs. Building alliances has also helped to empower local authorities to interact with other levels of government and to lobby and defend their interests.


City-to-city cooperation focuses on the sharing of technical, managerial and political knowledge which bolsters learning and builds capacity among peer cities, serving the public interests. Capacity building of associations is a peer-to-peer cooperation between local government associations (LGAs), in particular for strengthening their institutional set-up and capacity of advocacy and services. South-South Partnerships bring together Southern municipalities and their associations who face similar challenges and share experiences of transition. Triangular partnerships involve southern municipalities and a third actor from beyond the South. 


Many different actors are involved in decentralised cooperation and new actors are emerging as well. The main actors are: local authorities, networks, platforms, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academies, private sector, etc.


Over the last centuries, twinning became a modality for local politicians expressing their solidarity and will to cooperate. Since 1980s, local authorities and the civil groups in developed countries have begun cooperation with their counterparts in developing countries as North-South cooperation, motivated by political solidarity. South-South and Triangular Partnerships were born of the desire of Southern municipalities and their partners facing similiar challenges to collaborate and share their experiences. Today, it occurs with a thematic focus within a global network, providing a forum for sharing experiences. In response, UCLG promotes peer-learning activities to foster exchanges and to reinforce the capacity of local actors. 


  • Improving institutional capacities of local and regional authorities
  • Enabling decentralized cooperation with city-to-city exchange and the sharing of knowledge, context, objectives, results, challenges and lessons learned.
  • Improve processes, planning and management tools and innovate knowledge with technological and sustainable advancements.
  • Enabling projection of local and regional authorities and associations as key actors of cooperation; building synergies and fostering their interaction with other decentralized actors.


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