Local Government has a big contribution to make in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Malta CLGF 2017.jpg

This week I’ve been in Malta in my capacity as Patron of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). The Forum works to promote global goals, and has embraced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as not only highly relevant to local government, but also as goals to which local government has a great deal to contribute.

Many of the critical decisions to be made about sustainability lie with local government; for example, on urban design, transport systems, waste disposal, and energy efficiency. Local government can also create environments for productive investments which generate jobs, and it can foster social cohesion with the aim of leaving no one behind.

My speech focused on what would help local government to play its full role with the SDGs. I advocated empowerment of local government to act, noting that many central governments keep local government on a short leash.

I observed that local government should be a model of the inclusive and responsive governance advocated in SDG 16, and work to ensure that the voices of women, youth, and marginalised communities are heard in decision-making.

I underlined how critical zero tolerance of corruption is – to build trust between citizens and authorities.

I noted that local government has a history of planning – but that planning for sustainable development raises new challenges. Grow now and clean up later is not an option. Growth should be both inclusive and sustainable.

On resourcing, I noted that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda from the Third International Conference on Financing for Development offers good guidance, but that there are traps in public-private partnerships if they are not well designed.

Here is the text of my speech CLGF Speech Malta


Gender Equality for Inclusive Development.

Mauritius 2017 Helen addressing Public Lecture 6 NovMauritius Speech on Gender Equality

Today in Mauritius, I delivered a public lecture on why gender equality matters for development, drawing on my New Zealand and UNDP experience. The new global development agenda, Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals identify gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a top priority. SDG Five is dedicated to those objectives, and they are also mainstreamed across all the other SDGs.

It is concerning to read in the latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report that the gap is widening. All countries need to make serious efforts to address that. The evidence is clear: gender inequality prevents women reaching their full potential and holds whole countries back.

My speech focuses on women’s political and economic participation, and looks at some of the practical steps countries can take to remove obstacles to that. The text is here: Mauritius Speech on Gender Equality


“The Importance of Decent Work for Sustainable Development”

Geneva 2017 Kofi Annan 31 OctGeneva Graduate Institute speech Oct 31 2017

Last night I was in Geneva to give the keynote address at an awards ceremony at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. The Institute runs an annual international contest on advancing development goals. This year’s contest asked contestants to address the challenge of finding employment for all.

In keeping with that, my address was titled “The Importance of Work for Sustainable Development“. Employment is specifically targeted in Sustainable Development Goal 8. Yet the world is currently experiencing growing unemployment, and tremendous disruption in the world of work. My speech addressed why work matters, the scale of the challenge of achieving decent work for all, and how transitions through the current phase of disruption to work resulting from deepening globalisation, technological change, and tackling the climate change challenge might be managed. The text of my speech is here: Geneva Graduate Institute speech Oct 31 2017

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is shown in the photo above, awarding the prize to graduate students from South Africa for their project on finding employment solutions.