Regional development

World Observatory on Subnational Government Finance and Investment


The World Observatory on Subnational Government Finance and Investment (SNG-WOFI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative, which was jointly established by the OECD and United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) in November 2017. It is dedicated to collecting comparable data and information on subnational government structure and finance from 130 countries, and aims to support decision-making by national and subnational governments as well as international organisations.

The SNG-WOFI provides policy and decision makers with a variety of resources dedicated to shedding more light on subnational government finance and investment. These include individual country profiles, a comparative synthesis report, and an SNG-WOFI website that includes an interactive database and visualisation tools (currently under development).

This initiative is led by a Steering Committee and supported by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the Development Partners Network on Decentralisation and Local Governance (DeLoG), and the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD).


 SNG-WOFI Objectives


  • Ensure standardised, reliable and transparent access to data on subnational government structure, finance and investment.
  • Support dialogue and decision-making on multi-level governance and subnational finance among governments and international organisations.
  • Serve as a capacity-building tool for subnational governance and finance.


 SNG-WOFI Activities


The Steering Committee is guiding the work of this initiatve and two Steering Committee meetings were organised in 2017 and 2018. A methodological guide was developed to help data collection by focal points around the world.

This SNG-WOFI initiative follows a 2016 pilot study conducted by the OECD and UCLG entitled Subnational Governments Around the World: Structure and Finance. This was the first large-scale comparative study undertaken on this topic, covering over 100 countries. It revealed that subnational governments are responsible for 25% of public expenditure worldwide, or 9% of GDP, and 40% of public investment. In OECD countries, 60% of public investment comes from subnational governments.   


 Next Steps


An international conference will be organised in Paris on 17 June 2019. At this event, the 2019 World Observatory Report will be presented together with the interactive web database of comparable data on subnational government organisation and finance in 130 countries.

World Observatory on Subnational Government Finance and Investment Logo



The Second Steering Committee Meeting


 Group photo of the 2nd steering committee meeting of the World Observatory of subnational finance, 17/12/2018, Paris, OECD Headquarters

The Second Steering Committee was held on 17 December 2018 to review the initiative’s progress in its first year.


Participants had the opportunity to discuss: 

  • The outcomes of the first year of co-operation among the partners and members of the Steering Committee
  • The methodological guide for gathering and analysing data and information, including the challenges encountered in that process, and how to address them
  • Progress in data collection and information gathering for over 100 countries
  • A preliminary comparative analysis of the dataset and next steps 
  • The first iterations of the database and visualisation tools for the web platform
  • Advancing the initiative, including the conference and report launch event scheduled for 17 June 2019 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris

UNCDF and AFD explained how they are supporting the World Observatory’s activities. Participants also welcomed the CEB and the DeLoG as active partners of the World Observatory.





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The First Steering Committee Meeting


 The group photo of the first meeting of the Steering Committee for the initiative on 17 November 2017, at the OECD headquarters.

The first meeting of the Steering Committee, held in Paris on 17 November 2017 at the OECD Conference Centre officially launched the Observatory.


This meeting brought together almost 50 participants to reflect on and initiate a multi-level approach to collecting, analysing and disseminating information on subnational finance and investment. Participants included:

  • National government representatives from Chile, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the Slovak Republic (Delegates from the Regional Development Policy Committee and the Fiscal Network)
  • Subnational government associations from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and South East Europe, Latin America
  • European and international organisations, including the EU Committee of the Regions, the Council of Europe, and the UNCDF
  • Multi-lateral and national development banks, such as the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  • Think tanks, such as the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in the United States





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