[28 May 2013] -- Local governments are at the forefront of development and must play a key role in shaping the Post 2015 agenda. And for them to be effective, there must be a greater focus on quality and capacity in several key areas: local government institutions, civil society, adequate resources and committed leadership.
These were the key message emerging from the most recent Commonwealth Local Government Conference, which was held in Kampala 14-17 May 2013 with the theme “Developmental Local Government: Putting Local Government at the Heart of Development.”
Organised by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) every two years, the conference promotes local government as a development partner and aims to ensure that development meets the needs of local communities.
The high-level event brought together senior local government policy makers and practitioners, ministers, mayors, council leaders, senior officials and representatives of civil society, development organisations, the private sector and academic/research organisations.
With such a range of participants, the conference was an excellent opportunity for smaller Commonwealth countries such as Nauru (with a population of 14,000) to access a global platform with larger countries such as Canada and India.
This year’s event was especially important for participants as it focused on ensuring that the voice of local government is represented in the Post 2015 development agenda. It gave local governments the opportunity to have formal input into the consultation process, and the resulting recommendations will be submitted to the UN General Assembly at their September meeting as well as the next meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government.
The Cities Alliance hosted a booth at the conference, with Sr. Urban Specialist Julian Baskin and Knowledge Management Analyst Adele Hosken distributing material about Cities Alliance activities and engaging visitors in discussion.
The Cities Alliance also hosted a working session on Managing Urbanisation, which explored the global context of urbanisation and Uganda’s new developmental approach that emphasises partnership as a key to managing urban growth. The session was facilitated by Mr. Baskin and featured Samuel Mabala, Urban Development Commissioner for Uganda’s Ministry of Land, Housing & Urban Development; Charles Asika, Mayor of Arua; and Joseph Muturi of Shack Dwellers International, Kenya.
Some key observations and recommendations emerging from the discussions included:
- Urbanisation must be taken seriously. Africa is not taking urbanisation as seriously as it should be.
- National and local governments and communities must work together to achieve more.
- The potential of slum communities must be recognised and harnessed so they are part of the solution.
- Structure planning should focus on infrastructure and social well-being, especially employment.
Two statements were issued as outcomes of the conference. The Kampala Declaration on developmental local government stressed the critical importance of local government to implementing the post-2015 development agenda and urged all members to ensure that local government is fully integrated into the agenda and recognised as a global partner in negotiations.
The Munyonyo Statement on Local government’s role in the Post 2015 development agenda also outlined thematic areas and priorities to enable local government to play a full role in development and to implement post-2015 targets.
Both statements included references to the importance of recognising and managing urbanisation, its potential and challenges for local governments.
Founded in 1995, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) is the local government arm of the Commonwealth organisation. It works to promote and strengthen democratic local government across the Commonwealth, and to encourage the exchange of good practice.
CLGF is a membership organisation funded by member subscription, specific grants and donations, It has more than 170 members in 40 countries including ministries of local government, local government associations and individual authorities.