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CLGF Launches Caribbean Office

CLGF – Caribbean, the Regional Office of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum  was launched at a three-day programme of events from 21 to 23 March 2016, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The event was a consultation meeting themed around “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development”.  It commenced with a ceremonial opening, included two days of plenary discussions and culminated in an international round-table on the Local Government Reform which was currently in process in the host country – Trinidad and Tobago.


The ceremony was attended by Local Government officials from nine Commonwealth Caribbean states; Executive members of the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA); Deputy Secretary General of the CLGF; Programme Officer of the EU Delegation based in Trinidad; and representatives of the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM), University of the West Indies (UWI),  CARILED, UNDP and Microsoft. Delegates were welcomed by The President of CALGA , Cllr Philip McPhee and Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Local Government Authorities  Alderman Anthony Roberts. They both pledged the commitments of their organizations towards successful outcomes of the three-day discussions.

CLGF’s Deputy Secretary General, Lucy Slack announced the opening the CLGF office in the Region, co-located with CALGA, which was head-quartered in Trinidad. It was noted that CLGF had a long history of engagement in the Caribbean. CLGF reiterated its commitment to promoting local democracy, good governance and decentralization; exchanging and learning from good practice; as well as  building the democratic, governance, policy and service delivery capacity of local government to ensure better development outcomes at the local level. Ms Slack pointed out that the global picture was changing for local government and increasingly the voice of local government and the needs of local communities were being heard. Thus, 2015 saw the adoption of Agenda 2030   with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that recognize   the role of local government as an implementing partner. Additionally, in 2013 the European Commission adopted its Communication on empowering local authorities in partner countries for enhanced governance and more effective development outcomes. That policy commitment highlighted the EC’s recognition of the importance of locally led development based on local priorities and realities; and stated their intention to strengthen local government’s role as an actor in development.  It was against that backdrop that the consultation meeting was being held, with support from the EC to launch the CLGF- Caribbean programme office, alongside similar initiatives in East, West and Southern Africa and the Pacific.

Monica Paul-McLean, Programme Officer, EU Delegation in Trinidad and Tobago recounted that  funding was provided by the EU in the 10th EDF (2008- 2013) for non-state actors and local authorities  through the ARIAL project which was aimed at supporting and strengthening Local Government Associations at the regional and national levels. CALGA and its member countries were direct beneficiaries of that effort.  The EU, she indicated, went on to sign five partnership agreements for 2014-2020 with Local Government umbrella organizations to further support the contribution of Local Government to governance and accountability, advancing development, and promoting gender equity.


Hon Franklin Khan, Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, in delivering the feature address on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, mentioned that Local Government reform was a high priority, already being pursued by the newly elected government of Trinidad and Tobago, having come to office only six months ago.   He pointed out that Local Government reform was often bandied about the country but very little had happened in the past 25 years. He mentioned that the SDGs were recently debated in the nation’s Parliament and made the observation that rural communities in Trinidad were lagging behind in many aspects of development, hence an emphasis on rural development in his line ministry.

Minister Khan reflected that in the past decade over $35 billion dollars had been spent on social services without any impact on the poverty level, thereby indicating that the governance systems were flawed.  He agreed with the principle that the future of good governance was grounded in effective Local Government, and indicated that he was looking forward to the round-table discussion on Local Government Reform to be convened at his Ministry as a culmination of CLGF’s consultation meetings. 


Photos provided through the courtesy of the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government of Trinidad and Tobago