A key proposal coming from our 2013 CLGF Conference in Kampala was that 2014 should be designated as the Year of Developmental Local Government or #Y2014DevLG for Twitter users, so as to highlight the central role played by local government especially in economic and social developpment. This was also designed to encourage practical follow-up to the conference by CLGF members, as agreed and set out in our Kampala Declaration on Developmental Local Government and Munyonyo Statement on Local Government’s Role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
We were delighted that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Colombo in November, formally endorsed our proposal of having 2014 as the Year of Developmental Local Government. This high level political mandate from our leaders will assist our members in approaching their governments to support their own work. It also serves to strengthen CLGF’s efforts to ensure that the current UN discussion on post-2015 takes into account the role of local government, notably by focussing on its potential responsibility for helping to set, implement and monitor local targets for the envisaged new Sustainable Development Goals.
Developmental local government is about providing local government with the framework and capacity to drive social and economic development in their areas, and empowering citizens to be involved in this development. It is being championed as the most effective approach to address the challenges of hunger, poverty, unemployment, effective governance and local economic development that draws on resources and social capital based at local level.
In December, I wrote to all our members informing them of the CHOGM outcomes and inviting them to participate in our #Y2014DevLG campaign throughout the next 12 months, for example by highlighting this campaign within their own organisations and by designating specific activities they have planned as part of the Year of Developmental Local Government. We also provided them with our special desk calendar, which had been specially produced to draw attention to the new campaign. We are pleased that some of our members including the Botswana Association of Local Authorities and the Association of Local Government Authorities, Jamaica are already using #Y2014DevLG as the theme for their key events.
The campaign will cover a wide range of local government activities: aimed at strengthening democratic governance, delivering essential services, being a focal point for community involvement and participation, improving people’s livelihoods and prosperity, building local communities, encouraging local economic development, helping in reconciliation and nation-building, promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity, being agents of change and innovation, meeting the challenges of climate change locally and, indeed, being at the heart of development.
It was encouraging that when, together with other local government partners, CLGF Chairperson Mayor Yule, Board members Minister Arscott and Cllr McPhee and myself, met at the UN last month, there was clear recognition for the role of developmental local government and its place as a key actor in development. This was apparent from the positive interaction we had with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and many other senior diplomats. It is also being reflected in the current discussions we are having on developing a strategic partnership with the European Union for 2014-20, based on its new policy on local government.
CLGF will be encouraging its members to take part in the campaign and build on the growing recognition of local government’s developmental role - at the UN and internationally, but also in each of our countries and communities. #Y2014DevLG is designed to assist this vital task and I look forward in collaborating closely with all of our members and partners in making sure that our campaign is a resounding success.