Improving governance – the development of collective solutions to local problems and needs – is at the core of government strategies to reconcile economic prosperity, social cohesion and environmental progress. In a framework of good governance, government services co-ordinate their activities across administrative levels in order to enhance the global effectiveness of policies and minimise conflict. Civil society and the corporate sector are invited to participate in collective decisions and are encouraged to translate their involvement into concrete initiatives.
To improve governance, various governments have created and supported area-based partnerships. For example, in Austria, the federal government has played a key role in setting up the Territorial Employment Pacts. These partnerships facilitate consultation, co-operation and co-ordination. In particular, they involve a wide range of stakeholders in the development of long term strategies to guide the delivery of programmes and services in a manner consistent with local conditions. They also support the allocation of resources in a manner conducive to sustainable development. They are, in short, a tool to improve governance. (Read further in OECD, 2001: Local Partnerships for Better Governance, OECD, Paris)
Through the design and implementation of area-based development strategies, partnerships gain helpful knowledge in relation to local development practices. However, this knowledge is frequently not exploited as effectively as it might be due to weak linkages between partnerships themselves and between partnerships and government administrations. In response, the OECD LEED Programme, with the support of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour, has created the OECD LEED Forum on partnerships and local governance.
The Forum builds on the expertise and informal networks developed through the OECD LEED programme and seeks to optimise the contribution of partnership structures to local governance and effective policy development. The Forum works closely with the OECD LEED Trento Centre in the field of local governance. All institutions and organisations involved in the management of area-based partnerships may become members of the Forum. They include: government offices working in partnership at various levels, agencies and non-government organisations involved in partnerships at the national or sub-national levels; and research organisations and other bodies supporting partnerships and clusters.
Forum partnerships first met at the First Forum Meeting in Vienna, Austria on 26-27 April 2005. Experts from 33 countries, from the European Union and South-East Europe to North America and Asia Pacific, contributed to a lively debate regarding partnerships and their contribution to an integrated approach to economic development and social cohesion. The International Partnership Fair, organised by the Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna, Austria will build on the framework developed by the above meeting and address demand for the exchange of information and the comparison of concrete experience in relation to partnerships and governance issues. Hence, the main objectives of this Fair are to stimulate the exchange of experience in partnership working, to pursue an integrated approach to local economic development and social inclusion, and to offer opportunities for knowledge transfer.
Embedded in the overall objectives for the OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance, the International Partnership Fair seeks to contribute to an enhancement of local economic and employment development through strengthening the effectiveness of labour market and social policies. It aims to offer participants opportunities to: