Local Economic Development (LED)

Recent economic crises have revealed and often widened inequalities within countries. With the weakening of traditional sources and patterns of work and the expansion of the informal economy, bottom-up interventions responding to local needs emerge as key strategies to create decent jobs where they are most needed.

The promotion of Local Economic Development (LED) signals the drive for rooting employment creation by building on the comparative advantages and the unique characteristics of localities.

Decentralization reforms, advancing in many countries, provide ample opportunities to tap into the potential of local economies. LED strategies contribute to stronger policy coherence between national and sub-national levels, whilst connecting to cross-border value chains and markets.

The ILO is supporting constituents in the integrated devising of decent work strategies for local development by building up local capacity for effective policy making, systemic development planning and strategy implementation. The support is often aimed at benefiting women and men living in rural areas. It includes:
  • The promotion of dialogue between local-level stakeholders: We support the strengthening of local chapters of employers and workers organizations, and the organization of entrepreneurs and informal workers in both rural and urban areas for effective participation and dialogue.
  • The creation of employment strategies at the local level: We work hand in hand with local partners to strengthen the analysis of the business dynamics and the labour environment, improve the match between local labour markets’ demand and supply, and deliver targeted skills training.
  • The strengthening of an enabling environment for micro, small and medium enterprises at the local level: We encourage membership of professional associations and formalization among entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship training and leadership, value chain upgrading, business development services and access to finance.
  • The extension of social security coverage to informal workers and the local population: We support the extension of social security schemes, creation of strategies to manage risks and facilitate access to insurance, and strengthening of collective organizations providing social security.
Currently ILO work is also geared towards meeting the challenge of communities’ adaptation to climate change.

How we work

Local Economic Development strategies are multidisciplinary, encompassing international labour standards, employment, social protection and social dialogue. This means that we work in close partnership with many ILO units and programmes, as well as with other multilateral organizations and national and local partners. Our work includes the implementation of technical cooperation projects and the development and dissemination of a knowledge base on successful local initiatives for decent work.

More information

If you want to learn more about LED, visit our knowledge sharing portal at www.ledknowledge.org and join the growing global community of local development practitioners.

Contact the LED team at led@ilo.org
To learn more about face-to-face and distance learning courses on local economic development, visit www.itcilo.org/emld

Key Resources

  1. Up-scaling Local Economic Development: Lessons from the Ghana Decent Work Programme 2011

    18 December 2012

    This case study presents and analyses the lessons learned from the Local Economic Development (LED) component of the Ghana Decent Work Programme (GDWP), particularly with regard to up-scaling and replication.

  2. Labour-oriented participation in municipalities

    01 December 2010

    While social dialogue at the national level (both sectoral or multi-sectoral) has recognized attributes, at the same time, there are local level issues related to labour which are difficult to capture at the national level. The Sectoral Activities Department of the ILO has published the working paper: “Labour-oriented participation in municipalities. How decentralized social dialogue can benefit the urban economy and its sectors”, which presents practices of local social dialogue. It also provides guidance for municipal actors to engage in local social dialogue with the aim of improving the situations of workers and companies in the municipality from the decent work perspective.

  3. Gender Mainstreaming in Local Economic Development Strategies : A guide

    04 June 2010

  4. Routes out of the crisis - strategies for local employment recovery, skills development & social protection in Asia

    15 March 2010 - Malang, Indonesia

    Meeting Report - Malang, Indonesia, 1-3 December 2009

  5. LED Stories - Fact Sheets

    04 March 2010

  6. South and South-East Asia Conference on Local Economic Development

    17 June 2009

    Knowledge sharing and the way forward - Conference Report - 16/17 June 2009

  7. Reader Inter-Agency Conference on Local Economic Development

    24 October 2008

    @local.glob Global Thinking for Local Development - Issue No. 5 - Year 2008 - Special issue prepared and produced in conjunction with: ILO Local Economic Development (ILO/LED) in support of the Inter-Agency Conference on Local Economic Development 22-24 October 2008

  8. Desarrollo Económico Local + Empleo - Material para promotores

    06 August 2008

    Módulo 0 - Introducción al material

  9. Local economic development for employment generation, peace and security : approaches, tools, and good practices in the Philippines

    01 September 2007

    Report of an ILO-SRO Manila Technical Workshop

  10. An operational guide to Local Value Chain development

    01 February 2007

  11. Local Development and Decent Work Resource Kit

    01 January 2006

    Resource Kit

  12. Local Economic Development Sensitizing Package

    15 November 2005


  13. Local Economic Development Operational Guidelines in Post-Crisis Situations

    01 January 1997

    This Operational Guide is the result of a joint effort between researchers and technical experts with a broad field experience in Local Economic Development (LED) around the world.