Democracy is at stake. Everywhere and always. Whether it is in its infancy or hundreds of years old. It is not about elections and the winner takes all. It is about values. It is about listening to each other, about protecting the rights of minorities; it is about solving conflicts in just and peaceful ways, about leaving no-one behind; it is about sustainable and climate-friendly development and it is about trust between people and government. At the end of the day it is about building better futures. It requires renewal and reinvention and without a doubt calls for our daily attention and protection at all levels: local, regional, national and international.
In April it was 30 years since I joined the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), which is one of those organizations in the public domain which is constantly investing in the quality of democratic governance at the local level, not only in The Netherlands but also internationally. For my colleagues and myself it is immensely rewarding to be part of the association’s international cooperation agency, VNG International, which enables us to contribute – in all modesty – to strengthening democratic local government worldwide on behalf of the municipalities in The Netherlands.
Nowadays we work in nearly 40 countries of the world.
It is encouraging that everywhere we always find people, mayors, councilors, ministers for local government or regional development, business leaders, academics and representatives of civil society investing in developing more effective, accountable and democratic local governments.
It is also encouraging that the voice of local governments is being heard ever more clearly at the European and international levels due to the work of our international associations like CEMR, Platforma and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people we work with in our projects and programmes for their cooperation and trust in VNG International. In this annual update 2019 we would like to share with you our results and developments over the last twelve months. Looking forward to your feedback,
with best regards,
Director VNG International