CLGF Conference 2011: News from Friday 18 March

On the final day of the conference, delegates made their recommendations and sent a message of support to New Zealand and Japan.

Partnerships to promote economic development

Technology can help develop countries, Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe, told the conference. “It won’t change what we do, but how we do it,” he said.

Citing the example of how mobile phones had helped African farmers cut out the middle man, he demonstrated how technology can enable developing countries to leap frog into the future. Technology also enabled global competition for jobs and services.

Cloud computing was the way forward for local authorities, Mr Muehlfeit said. It enabled ICT resources to be delivered through the Internet, saving money, buildings and energy and thereby reducing council costs.

Dr Bishnu Ragoonath of the University of the West Indies chaired a panel discussion in which Jerry Ekandjo, Namibia’s Minister of Regional and Local Government described how his country had set up a Local Economic Development Agency and was working with the private sector.

Malaysia’s Minister of Housing and Local Government  Hon Chor Chee Heung explained how his country had set a target of becoming an advanced nation by 2020. This needed growth of 6 per cent a year to succeed. Malaysia’s National Council for Economic Development had created three programmes for growth and had set targets to reduce crime, fight corruption, improve the integrity of government, improve housing provision, develop rural infrastructure and sustainable urban planning and improve transportation.

Trinidad and Tobago’s local authorities had been forced to find solutions to problems with little or no finance, Orlando Nagessar, Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Local Government Authorities, said. As a result, every municipality now had an economic plan. He gave several examples of partnership in action, including a scheme to reduce graffiti, in which secondary school pupils adopt a wall and paint their own murals.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) provides tools for local government to analyse their local economy and the role of partners, David Morrison, UNCDF’s Executive Secretary, told the conference. He explained that local government provided a vital role as facilitator, broker and engagement in the funding process. One example was how it had facilitated a network in Uganda to improve maize production and distribution. This involved a multinational company, local government, farmers, the ministry of agriculture and a UN agency.

Mark Robinson of the UK Department for International Development (DfID) reiterated the coalition government’s support for the Commonwealth and explained that wealth creation and the role of the private sector were aspects of local economic development that DfID wanted to support.

Forward to the future

“Democracy does not exist without dynamic communication and participation,” Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer at the National Assembly of Wales told delegates in his closing remarks. Describing Wales as a “new and emerging democracy”, Lord Elis-Thomas described the nation’s progress since devolution. Economic development and cultural change are key to democracy, he said, and “you can’t stop remaking democracy”.

Implementation and outcomes

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba emphasised the “power” of CLGF in her closing comments. Describing it as a large representative body, with an emphasis on public service, citizens and communities, she said its achievements had included CHOGM’s endorsement of the Aberdeen Agenda. It was, she said, a body that complemented the Commonwealth Secretariat.

However, “Policy proclamations do not implement themselves,” she said. The challenge was to move beyond communiqués and policies to concrete implementation and demonstrated outcomes. Indeed, this point had been emphasised to her by the Commonwealth Local Government Young Professionals Forum, who had told her they wanted more action, not words.

The Deputy Secretary General also called on CLGF members to ensure inclusive development in their policy and programmes, so that women and young people could become properly engaged at both local and international level.

Commonweatlh inspiration

Finally, Commonwealth Affairs Minister Lord Howell of Guildford congratulated CLGF on adopting a conference theme that chimed with the UK government’s vision for the Commonwealth. Equally, he said, the Commonwealth network provided stability in a changing and uncertain world, he said.

He particularly singled out CLGF’s work in repairing and restoring democratic structures in Zimbabwe and said this was an important part of preparing for its return to the Commonwealth. “The Commonwealth is an instrument and inspiration for millions of people,” he concluded.

Cardiff Consensus

CLGF members have pledged to develop partnerships with business, the private sector and development agencies to encourage and improve economic development. The Cardiff Consensus for Local Economic Development also commits local government to become more strategic when developing local infrastructure, tourism an services.

It sets out four key actions to enable local government to play its full role in local economic development:

  • Providing a clear national framework for local economic development;
  • Creating an enabling environment;
  • Developing local strategies; and
  • Partnerships with the private sector and others.

The Consensus will be sent to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for endorsement later this year. Their agreement will drive local and national policies and practice for local economic development in Commonwealth countries.

Message of support

The conference has sent a message of support to stricken communities in New Zealand and Japan following the recent earthquakes. “Our thoughts are with you”, the message reads.

We'll meet again in Uganda

Kampala, Uganda, will be the host of our next CLGF conference, in 2013. Cardiff Leader Rodney Berman handed over the baton to Uganda’s Minister of Local Government Adolf Mwesige after delegates had watched an inspiring video showing the venue for 2013. The theme for the next conference will be ‘Local Governments addressing Poverty and the MDGs’

Goodbye to 2011 delegates

We hope that you have enjoyed the 2011 conference and have found some interesting ideas to take back to your own councils and communities to help you improve services and, in particular, look at new ways of energising your local economies.

We will shortly be sending out an evaluation form. We would appreciate it if you could complete it and return it to us.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts, Cardiff Council, other partners – the Welsh Assembly Government, the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association – our platinum partners Tata Consultancy Services and Dell IMicrosoft., and all the other organisations and people who have supported us for this event.

CLGF Conference 2011: News from Thursday 17 March

Day three of the conference looked at some of practical examples of local economic development.

Delivering services with limited resources

The private sector can provide expertise and resources to support the public sector in the delivery of its services, Tanmoy Chakrabarty, Head of Government Industry Solutions at Tata Consultancy Services, told the conference. Technology, outsourcing and optimising services are the way forward for more efficient services, he said.

Information technology can play a crucial role in meeting both the aspirations of citizens and the requirements of local government to become more efficient and effective at a time of global recession, Mr Chakrabarty said. Local government needed to be innovative, where electronic platforms were able to provide more accessible and productive council services, he suggested.

Facing financial challenges

Peter Kellner, Royal Commonwealth Society Chairman, chaired a panel discussion into the strategies, innovations and priorities of local government following the global recession.

Canada’s local authorities had opted to go back to first principles, when their country faced an economic crisis in the 1990s, Marvin Hunt of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities explained. His own authority of Surrey had chosen to increase local taxes by zero per cent over three years, despite facing reductions in their government grant. They also based their service delivery against a vision of ‘Working Together to Build a Great City with a Heart’. 

Malta was relatively young in having had local government structures for only 17 years, Chris Said, its Parliamentary Secretary for Local Councils, explained. However, they were already tackling the global challenges by investing in students, books and technology and trying to make better use of twinning partnerships.

Yunus Carrim, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Cooperative Government, told delegates that the global recession hadn’t hit his country as hard as elsewhere. The challenge now was to provide services to the poor and disadvantaged and to ensure there was a minimum level of reuse removal, water, and sanitation.

Edwin Poots, Minister of the Environment in Northern Ireland, explained that his authorities had frozen recruitment and removed overheads in order to cope with reduced budgets. Already, councils were looking at removing overheads and making staff more flexible, so that they could work in other sections, as well as sharing services between local and regional government, he said.

Procurement and economic development

In this workshop, delegates heard how Cardiff Council and eThekwini Municipality were improving their procurement processes so as to encourage jobs and services locally. Steve Robinson of Cardiff explained that his approach was driven by the knowledge that a 1% increase in Cardiff’s public sector spend would create 2,000 jobs either directly or indirectly in Wales.

eThekwini took a different approach to. It had developed a targeted procurement policy in which points were allocated to allow disadvantaged groups to tender for council projects and supplies, Winnie Mutungwa told delegates. The municipality also gave preference to local businesses, recognising those run by priority groups such as women, young people and small businesses should be awarded more points as they were at most disadvantage.

Baglan Energy Park

As part of the CLGC2011 our conference hosts provided a choice of seven study visits for delegates to see local economic development in action. Some 40 delegates joined the visit to  Baglan Energy Park.

The visit included a talk by David Lewis, Cabinet Minister, Gareth Nutt, Head of Service and Andrew Collins, Strategic Development Manager of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council’s Regeneration Department. This was followed by a tour of the energy park.

Bill Findlater, Chief Executive, Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency said

“I was impressed with the way the development park had provided the opportunity for higher skilled employment and that there was a focus on giving preference to local business operators to provide services and goods. I was particularly impressed with the regeneration not only in finding fresh jobs but also the code that the buildings have to meet in being eco and energy friendly. What also impressed me was the local government and private enterprise partnership side. Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council should be commended for their approach and endeavour”.

Kelvin Heathcote Mangisa, Chief Executive, Lilongwe City Council said:

“I thought it was worthwhile and three things struck me. The first was the vision and the Council’s strategy in looking ahead and being progressive which is good for the people. The second is the consistency in keeping ahead with development. The third is the involvement of the people – something that many countries don’t do. They had been with the Council for a long time which means the organisation could see the value in investing in them. This is rare.”

For further information visit:

Spread the word

CLGF have prepared a press notice for you to distribute to your local media when you get home. In this way, we hope the message of the Cardiff Consensus will be passed on to local authorities, governments and partners across the Commonwealth. Copies will be available on the Information Desk at the end of the conference.

Message from the ILO

Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labour Organization, has thanked conference delegates for the work they do to determine the way in which people experience their society. “Your work touches people’s lives directly, influencing the quality of life in many ways through jobs, services and the state of the environment,” he says in a letter to the conference.

The Director General also offers to put the ILO’s experience at the disposal of local government, particularly its role in promoting decent and productive jobs at this time of crisis. Its Decent Work Agenda brings an integrated approach to local economic development in rural and urban contexts and in the formal and informal economy, he says.

Commonwealth Local Government Handbook 2011/12

The 2011/12 Commonwealth Local Government Handbook was launched today at the conference by CLGF Chairperson Mayor Zenaida Moya-Flowers and Cardiff leader Cllr Rodney Berman. Pictured (left to right) are Carl Wright, Mayor Zenaida Moya-Flowers, Cllr Rodney Berman with Sam Hussain and Jim Cook from Publications UK who have published the book for CLGF.

Highlights for Friday 18 March

Microsoft’s European Chairman Jan Muelfeit will be the keynote speaker on partnerships to promote LED. Microsoft, in cooperation with Dell have supplied the internet café in the exhibition area for the use of delegates.

Following the discussion on the conference outcomes, the conference will wind up with a closing plenary, where we will hear from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba and UK Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lord Howell.

CLGF members

Don’t forget the CLGF General Meeting which takes place immediately after the conference in the Assembly Room, City Hall from 2.30-4.30pm.

Delegates are invited to join us at the National Museum of Wales for the closing reception at 6pm.

CLGF Conference 2011: News from Wednesday 15 March

On the first full day of the conference, we highlight some of the activities.

CLGF makes its mark

Day two of a packed conference agenda opened with an overview of CLGF's achievements since 2009 by Secretary General Carl Wright. He highlighted five areas where CLGF had made a real impact on member countries' local government, and included some examples:

  • Democratic values and good governance – eg contributing to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group Review, and supporting local democracy in Pakistan and the election process in Malawi;
  • Building local government capacity – eg good practice schemes in Ghana, India, and Jamaica, new funding agreed for a Pacific regional programme, and a €5 million ACP local government capacity building programme with the Dutch local government association, VNG;
  • Exchanging good practice – eg CLGF's roundtables in Mauritus, Gabarone, Valetta and Port Vila had ???? and the new e-journal now allows members to learn quickly from each others' experience;
  • Serving our members –improved communications with members and plans to recruit new members;
  • Strengthening CLGF's organisation – through the strategic review, a new participatory business planning cycle and stronger corporate partner support.

Delivering the MDGs

UNDP Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon Helen Clark set out why local government was much more than 'roads, rates and rubbish' in her keynote speech. UNDP and CLGF have a shared vision for helping communities reach their potential, she said.

Twenty years after UNDP launched its first Human Development Report, it still supports countries' efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions through free and fair elections, Helen Clark told delegates. Responding to countries' requests for assistance to build democratic governance was an important area of her organisation's work, she said.

Describing the role of local governance in supporting the Millennium Development Goals and the importance of nationally and locally owned development strategies, Helen Clark explained how UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) were helping to advance opportunities for women and girls, including encouraging women to become councillors, and were investing in schemes aimed at helping local authorities to manage their investment in infrastructure better, so as to improve service delivery and save energy.

She looked forward to ongoing collaboration with CLGF and its constituent organisations. "Our shared vision is to maximise the potential of local government to contribute to the economic and social well-being of its people," she concluded.

Rwanda grows stronger

James Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Local Government, told the conference how his country had moved from being a failed state in the 1990s to a country that had seen its GDP grow at 7% annually. Rwanda was now self sufficient in food production and on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

He described how the introduction of an integrated local government programme, with specific schemes to help small and medium-sized businesses, had contributed to his country’s growth.

HIV/AIDS and economic development

Attendees at the working group on Addressing the Impact of HIV/AIDS were enthralled by case studies looking at how Namibia, Uganda and Zambia had brought people with HIV/AIDS back into the economy.

Practitioners described how their local authorities had become catalysts for change, with the aim of helping people living with HIV/AIDS to become more self sufficient and economically active. In Uganda, where 6.4% of the adult population were infected, they had concentrated on providing basic entrepreneurial skills for AIDS orphans. In Zambia, with a national average infection rate of 14.3%, the local authority provided local leadership to encourage district business associations to take people with HIV/AIDS so that they could acquire business skills.

In all cases, the schemes changed the attitudes of the people with HIV/AIDS, enabling them to become less stigmatised and more socially and economically involved. This, in turn, helped encourage them to talk about their status and become more health conscious.

Bridging the gulf between working women and city governments

Women are bringing a new vibrancy to local economic development, argued Councillor April Crowther-Gow, Chair of the Caribbean Association of Government Authorities, in chairing the workshop on supporting women in LED.  The Inclusive Citiesprogramme is finding new ways to bridge the gulf between working women and city governments.  Representing two million workers worldwide - home-based workers, street vendors, waste-pickers and other micro-entrepreneurs - the IC network is developing new partnerships and working to document the scale and economic contribution of the informal economy. Alison Brown of Cardiff University explained how women are grasping the opportunities of globalisation to establish new trades in city economies. The Kudumbashree programme in Kerala involves some three million women workers collaborating at community and neighbourhood level to strengthen rural work, and empower women to make decisions over their own working lives. Providing support on access to vacant land, marketing, access to credit, organisation and skills development, and many other aspects in a rich and evolving programme, helps women set up micro-enterprises in animal husbandry, food processing and many other aspects, as Sarada Muraleedharan of the Kerala Government explained. The lively debate covered challenges and opportunities from Swaziland to the Bahamas.

Highlights for Thursday 17 March

Tanmoy Chakrabarty , Vice President of Tata Consultancy Services will talk about delivering high quality public services when finances are being squeezed.

Tata Consultancy Services is one of our two platinum sponsors. Delegates can visit Stand 14 to meet with representatives for more information about their work with local government.

During lunch, delegates are invited to attend a special lunchtime session on pan-Commonwealth community partnerships.

In the afternoon delegates will get a chance to see at first hand some local economic development and regeneration projects that have helped transform Cardiff and nearby areas.

There will also be a special workshop on Innovations in public service management and local government efficiency savings run by the Local Government Association of England and Wales in Room C at 2.30.

We wish delegates an enjoyable and productive conference.

CLGF Conference 2011: News from Tuesday 15 March

Welcome to the first issue of the CLGF Conference news, where we hope to give you a
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