The modern Commonwealth of nations has moved on a long way from its historical roots. It is reinventing itself as a vigorous cultural, economic and political network, which links 1.7 billion people - around a third of the world’s population.
Some 20 percent of world trade and investment takes place between the 54 Commonwealth countries.
Local Government is finding that these links can form a good basis for cooperation, working through the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), an organisation that represents Local Government in the Commonwealth of nations.
Australian Councils are developing technical links with local authorities in Papua New Guinea and Fiji, through the Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme.
The idea behind the Scheme is a simple one. Local Government practitioners work together, exchanging experience and expertise, to address a specific technical issue through targeted and practical action.
The Scheme is run by CLGF in collaboration with the Australian Local Government Association, and supported by the Australian government.
Most of the current partnerships are between Councils in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Cairns City Council is working with Lae City Council on waste management. Orange City Council and Mount Hagen are working together on strategic planning. Townsville City Council and Port Moresby are working on planning policy.
Association to association links are also possible, and the Local Government Association of New South Wales and Papua New Guinea Urban Local Level Government Association are working together on capacity building.
Coffs Harbour is working with Suva City Council in Fiji, to exchange skills and experience in the area of green waste management.
The Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme represents an imaginative and cost effective new means of harnessing some of the many skills in Local Government, to improve services and address some of the problems associated with poverty. The Scheme can fund exchange visits, work shadowing, and pilot implementation of new initiatives.
Importantly, the projects have benefits to both partners in terms of skills development, and in allowing Local Government to develop its international role.
In October, the heads of government from most of the 54 countries that make up the Commonwealth of nations will meet in Brisbane. To coincide with this, a Conference is being held on Wednesday 3 October 2001 entitled Making Local Government Matter: Creating Commonwealth Partnerships in the 21st Century. The experience of Councils involved in the Scheme will be highlighted. The event will also look at CLGF’s wider work in the Pacific and across the Commonwealth of nations.
For more information, or to find out about becoming a member, contact CLGF, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax (UK) +44 20 7 641 8735.