Commonwealth Local Government Forum

CLGC2023 working groups overview

16 November 2023

 

The Commonwealth Local Government Conference 2023 provided multiple opportunities for exchange at a more granular level. Working group sessions took place on both the second and third day of the Conference and allowed members and partners to discuss key thematic areas where increasing resilience is essential to ensuring better prepared local government.

Urban inequalities

On the Wednesday, working groups focused on issues such as climate change, disaster risk resilience, local economic development, health, migration and rapid urbanisation. The interrelatedness of issues was also clearly highlighted across these sessions. For example, in the discussions on urban inequalities, it was clear that environmental protection and precarity were major issues in working towards a more inclusive and resilient city. Likewise, the session on local economic development highlighted challenges to existing value chains and economic sectors such as agriculture from changing climate and weather patterns. Issues of disparities faced by different groups was also highlighted, for example, gender disparities and the distinct challenges faced by women in accessing decent work, confronting the climate crisis and ensuring household access to basic services were emphasised.

Focus on financing

Special focus was given to financing and three high-level capacity building sessions took place on the conference’s second day, focusing on accessing debt, green finance, partnering with the private sector and public finance management. It was clear that, while there is significant difference across the countries of the Commonwealth with the ways in which local government finance is regulated, there is significant interest in looking at how to increase investment in local areas and better manage the necessary partnerships to achieve this. Another important theme running through the sessions was the prioritising of public finance management and the tools and technologies available to local government to better manage their internal financial processes. While intergovernmental fiscal transfers are an important element of local government’s budget addressing internal fiscal challenges, maximising revenue and increasing the use of data and analytics is key to ensuring a maximum budget to undertake local priorities, as well as positioning a city or town as a good place to invest. Delegates also discussed the role of local government in addressing the climate emergency and the importance of opening up local access to green finance.  

Partnerships and the under-represented

Finally, on the conference’s third day, an additional set of working groups looked at partnerships and priorities which underpin work towards more resilient local government; this included increasing the voice and impact of under-represented groups such as women and young people, leadership, data and partnerships to achieve the SDGs. In these discussions there was a strong focus on how external actors can strengthen their support towards change (for example, political parties, academic institutions, etc.) as well as the role that local government, their associations and line ministries can play in leading change from within. A focus was made on the strength of networking and peer exchange and support. While limited resources, human and technical capacity were identified as important barriers the strength of creative, transformative leadership was clearly highlighted as a key element of resilient local government and an important element of any strategy to advance people centered development.

 

Developed and overseen by CLGF's Head of Programmes, Ms Claire Frost, CLGF staff served as rapporteurs in all working groups and the key messages from these participatory discussions were fed into the drafting process of the Outcomes Statement, which will guide CLGF’s work over the next period.

 

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