Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Youth network to guide sustainable urbanisation

11 October 2021


What better way to ensure the sustainability of our future, than to ensure we involve and hear the views of our youth in decision-making. That is why two young people from local government have joined a steering committee to guide the work of a youth network, focused on promoting and advocating for sustainable urbanisation for the Commonwealth.


Youth leaders from local government join forces with young built environment professionals and academics, providing critical input into developing a youth network on sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth. advancing sustainable urbanisation in Commonwealth. The Steering Committee, supported by CLGF, brings together young local government city leaders and technical practitioners, planners, architects, researchers/universities and hopes to expand to include engineers and surveyors.

Meet the youth members

The two local government Youth Steering Committee representatives are:


George Mwanza, who describes himself as a politician, youth activist, patriot, young leader and entrepreneur, realised a long-term ambition in September 2021, when he was elected, and sworn in to serve as Mayor of Chipata City, Zambia. At the age of 27, Mwanza became the youngest mayor to head a city council in Zambia and said: “I ran for mayor to be the voice that has been missing to make decisions for the youth. If you are not a politician, your voice is limited.” He is keen to be one of the people who will promote sustainable solutions to preserve the future of the Commonwealth, conserve natural resources and refrain from making bad decisions.

Better generational mix

Mandisa Mthimkhulu, who represents young professional practitioners, works in Human Resources in Mbabane Municipal Council, in Eswatini. Mandisa’s introduction to the group came through her involvement in the project implemented by CLGF and Gender Links. Funded by the Jo Cox Foundation and UK Aid, it partnered young women in local government with counterparts in senior managerial positions in councils as part of a mentoring programme, recognising the limited involvement of young people in many aspects of local government. She is interested in exploring ways to attract, and also retain young people in local government. Furthermore, she wants to change the status quo by having a better generational mix in the composition of local government leadership by ensuring that millennials are hired for positions that involve decision making.

Both representatives are from the African Continent, but will actively seek to ensure that the diverse features of the Commonwealth – capacity; stage of development and needs of cities, urban settlements, and countries; and geographical features - are represented; and to further underpin and ensure collective commonwealth messaging, The youth network steering committee is being supported and guided by CLGF Networks Officer, Janine Xavier-Cross and representatives of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Prince’s Foundation. 

Commonwealth sustainable urbanisation output

Development of a youth network focused on sustainable urbanisation is a key output of the work championed by the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative, a partnership which brings together the umbrella organisations representing the key disciplines relevant to supporting and advocating for Sustainable Urbanisation - the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), The Commonwealth Association of Architects(CAA), The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Princes Foundation who have collaboratively developed a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth. The Call to action puts forward a Commonwealth position to ensure sustainable urbanisation is at the forefront of the Commonwealth’s Development Agenda and Covid-19 Recovery. This Youth network will also be part of the Commonwealth Youth Networks gathered and supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

Working together, the Steering Committee will lay the groundwork, to:


  • set Cross-Commonwealth objectives for the first year of the network; 
  • promote the initiative to individual youth members; 
  • explore sponsorship;
  • prepare for a call for applications for an Executive Committee; and
  • prepare to formally launch the Youth Network in 2022. 

The youth voice is here…watch this space.  


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