Best Practice Report


Integrating subnational action

Integrating subnational action

Subnational governments are increasingly implementing green growth strategies, and in some cases are leading or catalyzing national efforts. Successful implementation of both national and subnational efforts requires close collaboration in order to be mutually reinforcing. This chapter explores the key question of how national green growth objectives can be achieved more effectively through enhanced and integrated subnational action. Specifically, we address the following:

  • Enabling subnational actions – what approaches effectively enable green growth at the subnational level and across different layers of government?
  • Integrating national and subnational actions – what practices are most effective for integrating national and subnational green growth actions?

Subnational and national action can interact in a range of ways, such as subnational government directly implementing national policy, national government promoting subnational action or subnational action informing and inspiring national action. From the review of the literature and related case studies we identify four strategic themes of interaction; incentives, capacity building, joint action and communication. Key lessons which emerged under these themes include:


Establish financial incentives, regulations, and targets to motivate and support subnational governments in promoting green growth.

  • Provide financial incentives to subnational governments. Offering funding for programs and other types of incentives can help overcome the lack of resources that prevents subnational governments from delivering on green growth objectives.
  • Introduce targets for subnational governments. National targets in the form of regulations and guidance to develop and implement green initiatives mandate and motivate local authorities to take action.

Capacity building

Enable subnational governments to implement green growth by providing new powers, budgets, human and technical resources, and peer learning.

  • Provide subnational government with human resources, technical expertise, and long-term fiscal capacity. Local authorities often lack the human and financial resources and technical expertise needed to implement green growth strategies. By providing technical training and sufficient funds for capacity development, national governments can play an active role in mainstreaming green growth across all levels of government.
  • Devolve powers to subnational governments. Appropriate level of decentralization, such as delegation of program implementation responsibility, allows subnational authorities to play a more proactive role in promoting green growth, and encourages innovation and the development of local initiatives.
  • Facilitate peer learning. Sharing of experiences among officials from subnational governments provides inspiration, raises awareness, and enhances the diffusion of good practices.

Joint action

Develop interlinked green growth national and subnational strategies and measures where national governments enable and motivate subnational replication; and state and local governments provide leadership and support for national goals.

  • Act jointly with subnational governments in the development of new national strategies, policies and regulations. Engaging subnational government in strategy and policy development increases policy coherence, helps decision makers to account for subnational delivery needs and conditions, ensures strategies and polices are more effective.
  • Engage subnational governments in the development of new investment opportunities. Assisting in the development of new investment opportunities helps local authorities to see the economic value of adopting green growth strategies. It also helps secure buy-in from political, business, and community leaders and builds capacity to finance and deliver green investments.


Facilitate dialogue between subnational and national governments that provides feedback of success stories at the subnational level and actively engages stakeholders who can bridge and help sustain actions across levels of the government.

  • Develop national and subnational partnerships. Developing and facilitating partnerships that involve national and subnational governments and stakeholders from diverse sectors can help to bridge multiple levels, particularly in countries with poor subnational capacity. Equitable partnerships between diverse groups of stakeholders can mobilize all of their strengths, and foster mutual trust and action towards green growth goals.
  • Create a mechanism to feedback subnational successes into national policies and initiatives for scaling up. Create a mechanism to facilitate lesson drawing and transfer of insights on good practice from subnational actions to national policies and initiatives for scaling up of good practice across the country.