Subnational and local governance programming framework

A group of children smiling an lifting mosquito nets.
UNICEF/UN0770242/Mojtba Moawia Mahmoud


Local governments and other stakeholders play a critical role in strengthening service delivery, ensuring accountability, prioritizing finances, and putting children’s needs at the center.

The subnational and local governance programming framework aims to support UNICEF teams in country offices and national committees to enhance and scale up their local governance programming and engagement with partners at subnational and local levels. It highlights the importance of understanding the functional assignments of local governments as part of the decentralization process and applies a territorial approach to enable more coherent programming at the subnational and local levels. The framework considers specific governance structures, their roles and responsibilities, development levels and territorial contexts, and supporting context-appropriate subnational and local programming.

It also provides different entry points and engagement approaches for partnering with the subnational and local governments. The Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) is an optional engagement platform within the framework. The CFCI supports local governments and other stakeholders, including children, in realizing children's rights at the local level using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as its foundation.

The Child-Friendly Cities Initiative Guidance Note aims to support country office and national committees implementing the initiative by providing the main guiding principles and implementing strategies for child-friendly local governance, the programmatic preconditions that should be in place before a CFCI is established. The global minimum criteria must be met before UNICEF recognizes a city or community as child-friendly.