- The Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH)
- ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Commonwealth Local Government Forum Pacific
Research has shown the importance of fresh produce markets to local economies. While individual traders are sometimes very poor, their combined productivity is massive. The following propositions require discussion.
Fresh produce markets are the vehicle which enables subsistence farmers to transition into the cash economy, providing opportunities for increased productivity and improved wellbeing. It has been suggested that more than half of the population of some Pacific nations are prevented from economic engagement in this way. There is huge scope for market expansion in conjunction with improved road and sea transport as a key development strategy.
It has been estimated that large markets are equivalent in turnover to the largest formal businesses in their respective countries, and that their cumulative economic contribution could exceed the whole of the formal economies in some countries.
Fresh produce markets convert primary produce into cash, and put cash into circulation as a building block for local economies. The women who work to achieve this endure very poor working conditions. Market fees and other charges imposed on traders are often used by local governments to cross subsidise other services, with poor levels of reinvestment in maintaining or improving markets.
There are real dangers in making investments in the physical improvement of markets without also addressing governance issues. Participatory governance models can be put in place which safeguard the wellbeing and rights of women traders.
There are additional possibilities for markets to drive urban transformation in an entirely new way, as local hubs for social and cultural as well as economic development.
The side event will launch EAROPH's new handbook on Building Local Economies, which will be promoted as part of the toolkit for implementing the New Urban Agenda.