Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Secretary-General's end of year message

20 December 2023


This year has been a very busy year for CLGF and its teams across the Commonwealth, with new programmatic work being launched in all regions, and major regional events taking place in the Pacific (the 6th Pacific Urban Forum, held in Suva, Fiji), West Africa and East Africa. Alongside this, CLGF has continued to support and strengthen the Commonwealth Women in Local Government Network (ComWLGN) and the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network (CSCN), with research and events including a webinar series on sharing digital tools for women’s political empowerment and webinars on cities and youth. Two editions of the Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance were published this year and CLGF’s research community continues to grow.

Successful conference 

We were delighted to be able to close out 2023 with a successful conference and related events, which brought together members and partners from more than 40 countries to focus on how we can continue to build resilience at the local level. The COVID19 pandemic reinforced how much communities rely on local government and local leadership for many of the basic services integral to their daily lives; and the conference only confirmed that in the face of the climate crisis, rapid urbanisation and the need to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, it is essential that we invest more in local government, local participation, and local delivery to build effective resilience from the bottom up.

Partnership at the heart

Partnership is at the heart of CLGF’s work, and strengthening partnership working with other levels of government, with civil society, academia, the private sector and other local actors and stakeholders, is an essential building block towards achieving more resilient local communities; and addressing wider global and national development challenges. In that respect it was very welcome in 2023 that the Secretary-General of the UN recognised the role that local and regional governments must play in localising the SDGs and launched the General's Advisory Group on Local and Regional Governments to bring mayors around the table with member states and UN agencies to provide inputs into key policy decisions. We are delighted to see Commonwealth mayors represented on this important committee.

Progress at COP28

In a similar vein, COP28 saw the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (CHAMP) initiative launched by the COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies to highlight the importance of subnational and multilevel action in the climate agenda -  a commitment by national governments to engage subnational governments, including cities, towns, states and regions, in the planning, financing, implementation and monitoring of climate strategies (Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs, for example).  

Representing our members on the global stage

CLGF continues to bring the voice of local government into Commonwealth policy and decision making. This year we have participated in election monitoring with the Commonwealth Secretariat in tripartite elections in both Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe; organised sessions at the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, Bahamas, and the Youth Ministers Meeting, London, and we mainstreamed a cohort of 30 young people into the CLGC23 as part of our celebration of the Commonwealth Year of Youth 2023.

Looking to the future

As we look to 2024 we are keen to work with our members to ensure that the outcomes of the CLGC23 support the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting taking place in Samoa with the theme of One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth; and to work collaboratively across our network to deliver the Kigali declaration on building local resilience across the Commonwealth and to support and amplify local government’s leadership and work in delivering development for all, ensuring no one and no place is left behind.   


On behalf of the CLGF Board and staff, may I wish you a peaceful, prosperous and healthy New Year both personally, and for the communities you serve, and I look forward to working with you in 2024 to achieve even more success for the local government sector.


Lucy Slack

CLGF Secretary-General


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