In recent years there has been increasing emphasis across the world on decentralisation of planning processes1. The old form of regulatory planning by the state agencies is being replaced by more inclusionary practices through co-option of the non-state actors in the civil society and the market in the decision making process. Such inclusionary processes are considered particularly vital under the rubrics of sustainable livelihood approach, adapted by the international funding agencies, to ensure that developmental outcomes meet the needs of the local communities in developing countries. However, emergence of bottom-up planning does not lead to erosion in the role of the state agencies in the planning process.
Rather, newer demands are being placed on the state agencies, in coordinating and balancing competing claims between multiple stakeholders. However,, the role of the planning government agencies in mitigating the conflicting demands of the global economy and local livelihood, are under investigated – particularly in the context of the natural resource rich regions in the developing countries.
This paper compares and contrasts the role of the local government planning agencies in two mining regions of Colombia. Heightened global demand for natural resources is leading to escalation of mining operations in Colombia, by multinational and local mining companies. However, there are growing discontents amongst the local communities, who feel left out of this economic boom, and are stuck in poverty. Under these circumstances, the need for greater involvement of the mining companies to carry out developmental works at the local level, are recognized by the higher levels of the Colombian government; by local civil society activists as well as by the mining companies. However, operationalisation of this concept, this research shows, is to a large degree, handicapped due to capacity constraints of the local planning agencies. The local governments are unable to respond to demands regarding infrastructure development, employment generation, land-use regulation and social and environmental impacts of mining. The research draws attention to specific institutional deficiencies, in political and technological terms, which come in the way of the local agencies playing stronger role in a multi-stakeholder scenario in planning for mining regions and suggests certain remedial measures. The research is based on qualitative research involving, field observations and interviews of local government officials, mining company executives and community activists.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section-2 provides a literature review about capacity building in planning at the local government level in the context of multi-stakeholder governance framework. Section-3 then provides a brief overview about the two case study areas. Following that, Section-4 compares and contrasts the role of the local governments in
each of the case study areas, about their engagement with the mining industry. Section-5 concludes the paper through a summary.