A fundamental task of the UCLG Decentralisation and Local Self-Government Committee is to contribute to the debates on decentralisation. It is therefore important to consider decentralisation as an instrument for improving citizen’s life conditions and not as an aim in itself. Likewise, one of the principal prerequisites for translating decentralisation from the theory into the praxis is a good understanding of the concept.

Based on this idea, the Committee launches this glossary that presents the definition of some key concepts for the work of local governments and its partners, such as “decentralisation”, “local self-government”, “subsidiarity” or “local governance”. Without pretending to be exhaustive, these definitions have been elaborated by the Commission itself or selected from different reference documents and publications from international organisms and experts. 

Being conscious of the difficulty to define these terms in a complete and consensuated way, with this first glossary proposal we would like to launch an open and constructive debate to move forward to a more concrete knowledge of what we understand by each of these terms, starting from the experiences of local governments and its partners. For the future development of this first glossary we very much welcome your contributions to the selected definitions as well as proposed new entries to the glossary. Please send your feed back at the Committee Secretariat.