Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Healthy cities, healthy people!

26 November 2021


"Building healthy cities is not a job for one sector. It takes a coordinated,

multi-sectoral approach, led by local governments.”

- Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO.


"Housing, access to clean water and sanitation and waste management

are as important as access to a doctor. These are matters being handled

by local government, outside the conventional remit of the health sector.”  

- Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat.



CLGF's Healthy Cities, Healthy People campaign was launched at a virtual event on 23 November. A joint initiative with the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, UN Habitat, Uniting to Combat NTDs and BOVA (Build Out Vector Borne Disease in Africa), the launch was attended by a Commonwealth-wide audience and a distinguished group of speakers from local government and development. 

Common position

Mayors, local government leaders and global partners are invited to sign up to the Common Position and Commitment to Action for the campaign, the focal point of the launch. Read this statement in full.

Helen Clark, CLGF’s Patron and former New Zealand Prime Minister explained how, over the next 30 years, the urban population is projected to grow by more than 2 billion and almost half of those people will be living in towns and cities in the Commonwealth. Towns and cities are centres of opportunity to find work and raise families; however, the rapid population growth - often involving those working in the informal sector - is increasing pressure on municipal services and infrastructure. Cities are places that are also vulnerable to infectious disease – and this has been very clearly demonstrated recently by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has overwhelmingly affected urban areas and seen city and local government leaders on the frontline of managing the crisis.

Crucial services in determining health

She described how the Healthy Cities, Healthy People campaign sought to highlight the role of city leaders and local government in health issues, by emphasising the importance of services, such as water, waste, housing, sanitation, drainage, urban planning and markets - all provided by local government, and all crucial in determining the health of urban residents - and yet too often falling outside the conventional remit of what we think of as health.


She called for a much more joined-up, multi-sector approach to support cities and local governments in building resilience and their ability to respond to future shocks. Mayors and local leaders are well-placed to bring all the key partners together locally with their strong connections with community groups, businesses, the media, as well as other arms of government. It is important to have the leaders of cities and towns around the table on health planning and she urged leaders to join this campaign.


CLGF Chairperson Rev Mpho MW Moruakgomo explained how the initiative began in discussions around malaria but, with local government as a sector being at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, a spotlight has been firmly shone on the important role that cities and local governments play in ensuring healthy and liveable communities.

Join the campaign now

He asked everyone to take a moment to remember the many colleagues who have "paid the ultimate price during the pandemic." He also welcomed and congratulated all the cities, municipalities, towns and local governments who have already endorsed the Common Position and urged others to "come on board and add your voices."


He continued: "This is an important moment to raise awareness of the leadership role of local government in ensuring healthy communities through our planning, service delivery and out-reach work." He called the campaign a 'rallying point' and a means to open up partnerships and opportunities to see more investment in those key services that are critical in keeping our citizens healthy.

Accessing resources and investment

He thanked the partner organisations and said that CLGF looked forward to continuing to work to support practical implementation at the local level; and a big part of this is enhancing local governance arrangements and decentralisation. As several mayors had already said, access to relevant resources and investment at the local level was key.


He concluded by thanking the mayors who had already signed up to the Common Position, and acknowledged the progress that AIMF and its members have already made. He said: "We must prioritise action to strengthen local partnerships - with civil society and communities on the ground - to ensure that solutions are driven by the needs of our citizens. Those joining us will be at the forefront of driving it forwards."


CLGF Secretary-General, Ms Lucy Slack said that CLGF is planning to bring the voices of Mayors to the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, as they discuss health in the Commonwealth; targets to reduce malaria and NTDs; and of course COVID19 and post-COVID recovery strategies.

New working group of cities on health

She said: "We are also establishing a working group of cities within our Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network (CSCN) to enable cities and municipalities to share ideas, build consortia and partnerships; and develop practical projects and responses to improving urban health through strengthened local governance."


Healthy Cities, Healthy People will connect and network local governments and urban leaders to learn from each other: identifying gaps and highlighting the powers, functions and resources they need to be empowered to play a stronger role in ensuring the health of their local communities. It is also a partnership and will serve to link cities and local governments with expert support from a range of specialist organisations.

Further information

For more information please contact any of our founding partners or write to CLGF or UN Habitat


Go to this link to watch the launch event in full.  


Moderated by Etta Madete, the full list of speakers included:

speakers: Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Hon. Dr. Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Hon. Helen Clark, Patron, Commonwealth Local Government Forum; Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat; Mr. L. O’Reilly Lewis, Division Chief, Economic Infrastructure Division, Caribbean Development Bank; Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Freetown, Sierra Leone; Mayor John Macedo, Lethem Guyana; and Mr. Ladislas Ngendahimana, Secretary General, Rwanda Local Government Association (RALGA).
With thanks to: Mayor Bernard Wagner, Belize City, Belize,nMayor Sandra Ermine Royer, Roseau, Dominica; Mayor Leslee Way, Siteki Town Council, Eswatini; Hon. Alexander Nii-Noi Adumuah, Municipal Chief Executive, Adenta, Ghana; Fozia Khaled Warraich, District Chairperson, Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan; Deputy Mayor Zachariah Bangura, Port Loko City, Sierra Leone and Mayro Chilando Chitangala, Lusaka, Zambia




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