International News - May 2009

African local governments geared towards Action on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy

The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), in partnership with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability Africa, delivered a successful Learning Platform on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy at the Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel, in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi, from 31st March – 1st April 2009.

Under the theme: “Climate Change & Sustainable Energy – Towards Local Government Engagement’’, the two-day event was attended by over 30 participants including local government practitioners – political leaders, secretaries general and programme staff of national associations of local government; mayors; councillors; etc; UCLGA partners and officials from the Malawi Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. 13 African countries were represented at the event.

In his welcoming remarks, the UCLGA Vice-President for Southern Africa, Councillor Charles Mumena, thanked the distinguished participants for their presence at the event and indicated that the Learning Platform was “designed as a way of bringing the challenge of climate change to the centre of African local government debates and interventions.” Cllr Mumena also indicated that one of the key issues that the UCLGA leadership hoped the Learning Platform would address was “the extent to which African local governments understand the specific effects of climate change upon the continent, and local government’s preparedness to be able to deal with these challenges and experiences.”

The Learning Platform was officially opened by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in Malawi, Honourable Khumbo Chirwa. In his opening remarks, Honourable Minister Chirwa welcomed all participants and went on to outline the objectives and expected outcomes of the learning platform. The Minister affirmed the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Malawi to “implement the obligations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol to minimise the emissions of Greenhouse Gases and further adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. He indicated that “climate variability and climate change policy responses and associated socio-economic development impact considerably on the ability of countries more especially Least Developing Countries (LDCs) like Malawi to achieve sustainable development goals.” The Honourable Minister urged representatives of African local government to “review advances that have been made achieved in weather or climate prediction and management and be able to put forward practical proposals for boosting capacities for management of climate change related risks and potential benefits”.

Local governments represented at the Learning Platform agreed that they do indeed have a critical role to play in fighting climate change and contributing to a more sustainable environment in their various local constituencies. Mayors and councillors from coastal municipalities and towns also felt the need to form a network as their challenges are similar and there would be a great advantage in learning from each other and exchanging ideas on challenges faced and good practices.

One of the key political outcomes of the learning platform was the formal establishment of an African Local Government sub-committee on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy, which was endorsed by the Executive Committee of the UCLGA. This sub-committee will be the voice and representative of African local governments in matters pertaining to African local government engagement in climate change, energy and the environment regionally, continentally and internationally. The sub-Committee will be constituted of mayors, councillors, officials in local government from across the continent as well as technical representation from ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability Africa and other energy and environment partners.

For more information kindly contact:
Mr Charles Patsika (Email: ckpatsika@uclgafrica.org)



Malawian Minister of Local Government confirms holding of local government elections in 2010

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in Malawi, Honourable Dr George Chaponda confirmed that local government elections will be held in his country in May 2010 in line with Chapter 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. The country’s constitution provides that local government elections must be held one year after Presidential and Parliamentary polls. The latter polls are scheduled for May this year. Honourable Dr Chaponda gave this confirmation while addressing delegates at a Roundtable Discussion on “Strengthening Local Democracy & Good Local Governance: The Case of Local Government in Malawi” at the Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel, in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on 2 April 2009. Organized by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), in partnership with the Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA), the event brought together key stakeholders, including 13 African countries, to identify ways of assisting the Government of Malawi to ensure that local government elections are held in Malawi as provided in the Constitution of the country. Amongst those present were the Malawi Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Malawi Electoral Commission, MALGA, the UCLGA Executive Committee, the UCLGA Secretaries General Forum, the Decentralization Secretariat in Malawi, the UNDP’s Support to Electoral Reforms and Elections in Malawi Project, the GTZ Decentralization Secretariat in Malawi, civic society organizations and representatives from academic institutions.

In his keynote address, Honourable Dr Chaponda, who officially opened the Roundtable, welcomed all local government leaders and officials representing various African countries at the event and went on to indicate that by holding the Roundtable, the UCLGA had shown its commitment to the development of Africa continent-wide and at all spheres by lobbying and advocating for people’s participation and empowerment through local government. Honourable Dr Chaponda affirmed the commitment of the Government of Malawi to the implementation of democratic decentralization. He indicated that they (the Malawi Government) had managed to put in place institutional structures both at national and local levels which are critical for successful implementation of the decentralization process. These institutions include, at national level, the Local Government Service Commission, the National Local Government Finance Committee and the Malawi Local Government Association. At local level, the Malawi Government had facilitated the formation of development structures such as Area and Village Development Committees. The Honourable Minister also affirmed the commitment of the Malawi Government to devolving more financial resources to local governments to facilitate quality service delivery. He also indicated that the Malawi Government had developed a programme called Capacity Development Programme for Decentralisation (CDPD) to address capacity challenges in the implementation of the country’s Decentralisation Programme. Before concluding his address, the Honourable Minister urged the UCLGA to also consider issues such as corruption and lack of transparency and accountability, which impact negatively on the development needs of local communities. In conclusion, the Honourable Minister assured the UCLGA President of the commitment of the Government of Malawi to participating in the activities of the UCLGA.

Addressing delegates at opening of the Roundtable, the President of the UCLGA, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, thanked the government and local government players in Malawi for according the UCLGA the honour of holding the roundtable. He went on to indicate that the vision of the UCLGA for local government in Africa was based on “material realities and conditions on the ground, where Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world, and with urbanization having come huge pressures upon municipalities for service delivery, governance, revenue collection, financial management, communication, consultation and participatory democracy, to name a few.”

Father Mkhatshwa also indicated that the UCLGA believed that local government was a sine qua non for democracy, and that democracy was felt at its most palpable at the local level, hence the vision of the UCLGA: “Building African unity from and driving development through the grassroots.” He made it clear that, from the UCLGA’s perspective, local government was a subsidiary of central government and not an independent entity. At a time when Africa faces the challenge of meeting the fast approaching deadline of 2015 for most of the MDGs, added Father Mkhatshwa, it is critical that local governments complement the efforts of national governments, continent-wide, towards the delivery of MDGs relevant to local government. For this to happen, local governments need to have real powers and accountability decentralised to them.

A message of support was delivered by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) which highlighted that CLGF has repeatedly urged the holding of local government elections in Malawi, in line with the Commonwealth Principles on Good Practice for Local Democracy and Good Governance (the ‘Aberdeen Agenda’) agreed by all Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2005 and re-affirmed by them in 2007.

The Roundtable provided for lively experience sharing, exchanges and discussions which culminated in the establishment of a Task Team consisting of Malawian stakeholders and the UCLGA to ensure that a clear Plan of Action is developed and lobbying, education and advocacy work is undertaken at grassroots levels as a build-up to the local government elections scheduled for May 2010. The Executive Committee of the UCLGA formally endorsed the establishment of the Decentralization and Local Democracy sub-Committee, whose representatives would form part of the Malawi Task Team. A meeting of the Task Team is scheduled for late April 2009 to develop the Plan of Action which will involve various lobbying, advocacy and civic education activities in Malawi.

The Minister of Local Government & Rural Development in Malawi also mandated the UCLGA to provide the Ministry with a study on councilor remuneration packages, which would be used by the Malawian Government as a benchmark for its own councilors once they are elected into office. He also requested that the UCLGA provides information on good practices in decentralization in the continent which would assist Malawi to improve its own systems.

The UCLGA intends to continue to lobby the Government of Malawi and strengthen the Malawi Local Government Association so that it has stronger capacity to support the local government leaders once they are in office.

For more information kindly contact:
Ms Lilian Dodzo (Email: Ldodzo@uclgafrica.org)



Auckland Governance Report by the Royal Commission - April 03, 2009

The NZ Government is considering its position on the recommendation to form a "super Auckland" with one all-powerful mayor.

Becoming a super city will make Auckland the biggest singe municipal city in Australia and New Zealand, just ahead of Brisbane with 1.2 million people.

In its long-awaited report, the Royal Commission on Auckland governance proposed scrapping the Auckland Regional Council and seven territorial authorities serving Auckland and called for the establishment of a single unitary authority called the Auckland Council.

For the first time, a single mayor will preside over the entire city - and they will have powers greater than those currently allowed.

The Royal Commission says the transformation of Auckland's councils should be done within 18 months to meet a deadline of October, 2010, when new elections will be held. However, despite the emphatic recommendation, the final decision still rests with the Government.

In its recommendation, the Commission is pegging its hopes on an "inspirational leader, inclusive in approach and decisive in action" filling the Lord Mayor type role. It says their new powers will include the ability to appoint their deputy and committee chairpersons, propose budgets and initiate policy and establish and maintain an appropriately staffed mayoral office.

The new Council would have all the powers and responsibilities of a regional council and territorial authority across the region, including the sole ability to set rates, their report says.

"There will be one-long term council community plan, one spatial plan, one district plan, one rating system, one rates bill, one voice for Auckland," the report says.

Six elected local councils would operate underneath the new super city umbrella, but would operate in a way not seen before - providing services and acting as an advocate for residents, ratepayers and their communities while lacking the general powers held by local authorities elsewhere.

A shake-up of Auckland boundaries is also proposed; while those in the north and Hauraki gulf will stay the same, Franklin will be shifted into Waikato, while Tuakau, Pokeno and Mercer will be shifted out of Waikato and brought under the Auckland super city umbrella.

It will stretch more than 100km from Papakura in the south to Wellsford in the north, taking in a population of around 1.4 million.

Greater Auckland currently has four city councils, three district councils, one regional council and community boards. The councils are: the ARC, Auckland City, Manukau City, Waitakere City, North Shore City, Rodney District, Papakura District and Franklin District.

Together those councils employ more than 6000 full-time staff.

http://www.alga.asn.au



Canadian Local Government

A comprehensive report on the future of local government was prepared for the New Brunswick provincial government. View the report here.



Improved access to full-text articles for developing country researchers

The British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) has been working with WHO to improve access to economic and social development journals for researchers in developing countries. Institutes that are HINARI and OARE members can now access the full text of more than 300 'development' journals online, including African Development Review, Development and Change, Development in Practice, European Journal of Development Research, Gender and Development, Global Environmental Change, and World Development. Many of these titles are searchable through the BLDS catalogue.