Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local government at the UN General Assembly

09 October 2020


Addressing a virtual audience of the United National General Assembly, CLGF Chairperson Rev Mpho Moruakgomo said that local economic development and supporting local livelihoods will be central to our recovery from COVID 19. Speaking during the Reactions from Cities and Regions session, which took place on 8 October, he also told of his wish for enhanced multilateralism across the local government sector and stronger engagement with the UN. 


Crowdsourcing priorities and solutions

The UN75 consultation on the future we want, the UN we need, was a bold and large-scale virtual exercise in crowdsourcing priorities and solutions, and harnessing big data analysis tools. The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (GTF), of which CLGF is a founding member, facilitated the drafting of a Visioning Report on behalf of the sector for this global consultation. The objective was to discuss the findings of both reports and how best to take them forward at the local, regional and global level.


Frontline of delivery

Explaining that local and regional governments are on the front line of delivery, and the sphere of government closest to citizens, Rev Mpho Moruakgomo said: “It is in our communities and territories where global targets to address climate change, urbanisation, or poverty reduction and development become a reality.” He continued that this has only been further reinforced during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, where we have seen local and regional governments on the forefront of managing and responding to the crisis. 

Coming together as a global community of local government to share our vision for the future, he explained that it is clear that we must integrate local democracy at the core of peaceful societies to ensure a strong voice for local people in guiding local development, and having a say in the decisions that affect their lives and their livelihoods. CLGF members and local government stakeholders are clear that decentralisation should be the new normal - that we must invest in and support local development. We want to see a territorial approach to development, where our cities, towns, and surrounding rural areas are planned and developed as one inter-dependent whole, that is responsive to local needs and priorities, and capitalises on local assets and resources. 


Participatory, accountable and transparent

He continued: “To achieve this, we need to continue to focus on ensuring that our local and regional governments are participatory, accountable and transparent; that they are inclusive, free of corruption, and represent all parts of the community they serve.” He described how Sustainable Development Goal #16 calls for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and to provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Local government is at the heart of this – working to build strong, resilient and robust local government – local institutions that are committed to principles of good governance and responsive to changing local priorities.


Recovery focusing on LED and supporting the Green agenda

CLGF’s Chairperson went on to emphasise that, going forward, a focus on delivery will be key – with local economic development and supporting local livelihoods at the centre, as well as supporting the green recovery that we are all committed to. He explained that local government is critical in enabling effective local economic development; in strengthening the value chains that enable trade, good governance and strong institutions; and empowered local leadership will enable that. 


Building better

CLGF Secretary-General, Dr Greg Munro echoed these words and added: “Our world stands at the brink. We need to grasp this opportunity to build a better and more sustainable world by building from the bottom up, together with our communities and local leaders to create fairer, more inclusive, more sustainable and more resilient cities and local governments.”

Praising the work of the Global Taskforce, he said: “There has been huge value in us as a local and regional government constituency working together as the Global Taskforce to ensure local government’s voice is heard. 


This has been the result of extensive consultation with the local government sector with a strong desire to deepen this partnership with the UN and see a more inclusive UN In the future. It is imperative that the UN continues to work to uphold the principles of democracy and good governance on which the effectiveness of local government depends. To do this we are stronger together."  


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