Historic Commonwealth Local Government Forum Meeting in Belize Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00

Closing of  CLGF MeetingThe Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) held a two-day board meeting in Belize on May 16 and 17.  Participating in the meeting were representatives from Belize, Bahamas, Botswana, Canada, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Mauritius, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and the United Kingdom. Hon Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General and Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, all made appearances at the meeting. There were several topics discussed.

The most pressing issue highlighted was the need for empowerment of women and youth. In a piece entitled “Belize Statement on  the Promotion of Local Democracy, Good Governance and Local Economic Development in the Commonwealth”, the CLGF highlighted “the need to address the concerns of young people, especially at a time of high youth unemployment, as well as the role of women in local government and the importance of CLGF’s cooperation with Commonwealth and other partners in this area.” They also underlined the need to respond to the special needs of small states; especially the economic and political vulnerability of member states in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Marie Legault, Counsellor and Head of Aid for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, Jamaica) was present at the meeting. She said that CIDA’s focus in the Caribbean is the empowerment of youth and women and the economic development of member states. It is for that reason that a program called Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) was launched on May 16. The CARILED programme is a six-year $23.2 million project in which local governments will utilize assets and human capital to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and develop the business sector. CARILED is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and being implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), in partnership with the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM), the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). Belize will be one of six countries to benefit from the program.

Carl Wright, Secretary- General of CLGF, said that it was one of the most productive meetings in the history of the CLGF. At the end of the meeting, the CLGF made three commitments. The first is to work closely with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and other partner organizations in defence of Commonwealth values with a view to reporting to foreign ministers at their next meeting before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2013.  The second commitment is to take forward the 2011 CHOGM mandate on the promotion of strategies to promote localism, sustainable development and economic growth in partnership with the private sector, and for the establishment of a CLGF task force to develop an Action Plan for implementing local economic development strategies. The final commitment is for the development of enhanced programmes of regional capacity-building in all regions of the Commonwealth, including the Caribbean, building on agreed CLGF cooperation with the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM) and the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and working closely with existing and new partners such as FCM/CIDA, the EU, IDB and UNDP. 

The meeting was hosted by the Government of Belize -Ministry of Local Government, the Belize Mayors’ Association and the Belize City Council. At the end of the meeting, Zenaida Moya stepped down as Chairperson of the CLGF. The post is now that of Mayor Lawrence Yule from New Zealand.