The 2023 Commonwealth Local Government Conference took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 14 to 17 November 2023. The conference focused on the theme of “Building Local Government Resilience across the Commonwealth” and brought together local government ministers, mayors, and other leaders and stakeholders from 40 Commonwealth countries.

One of the notable features of the conference was the “SDG Corner,” an exhibition space organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). The SDG Corner allowed mayors, local government leaders, and stakeholders to showcase their stories of resilience and innovation in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The exhibition space featured various inflatable balls representing different SDGs, which added a touch of fun and interaction to the conference.

The conference was also composed of working group sessions and a side event that highlighted the important role that local governments play and the challenges they face while advancing the realization of the SDGs. For example, Raul Espinosa, UNDP’s Operations and Quality Assurance Specialist participated in a working group session on “Partnering with the Private Sector”, where he emphasized UNDP’s continued support to local governments.

On the 16th of November 2023, the UNDP collaborated with CLGF and the City of Kigali to organize a side event titled “How Agenda 2030 is Helping Cities to Innovate and Scale Up Local Projects.” This event featured presentations from various cities, including Kigali, Rourkela Municipality in India, Homa Bay County in Kenya, and the Island nation of St. Lucia. These cities shared their innovative approaches to addressing challenges and achieving specific SDG targets.

For instance, Kigali City focused on managing waste and improving water use efficiency through the construction of rainwater harvest reservoirs and smart waste collection stations. Rourkela Municipality highlighted their solar-powered cold rooms project, which helped women farmers and vendors store vegetables for longer periods, reducing wastage and increasing their household income. Homa Bay County emphasized citizen involvement in decision-making and social accountability in public administration, along with their efforts to promote climate resilience.

The Minister for Housing and Local Government from St. Lucia discussed the challenges faced by his city, Castries, due to climate change and the lack of funding for addressing these issues. He emphasized the need for developed nations to provide resources to support climate resilience measures in small and developing nations.

The side event also included a question-and-answer session, where participants had the opportunity to ask specific questions related to sanitation, health access, sustainability, and road safety. The City of Kigali shared their approach to managing sanitation in informal settlements, while Homa Bay County discussed targeted health programs. The Rourkela team emphasized the technological aspects of sustainability and planned maintenance for ongoing projects.

Read the full report of the conference here

Watch videos of mayors as they share their SDG stories on our youtube channel