Councils pursue closer international connections

By Jane Garcia in Canberra

Australian local government has been invited to attend two major international congresses to be held in the Asia-Pacific region next year, and has passed a motion to share its expertise in abating greenhouse gas emissions with governments in India and China.

The United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) will hold the World Congress of Local Government in Jeju, South Korea on October 28-31, 2008. The group was formed in 2004 and is made up of mayors and representatives from more than 100 cities around the world.

Australian Local Government Association president Paul Bell told the National General Assembly in Canberra this significant event would look at issues of how to continue to engage with local authorities, share information and "plant the seed" of local democracy. This was particularly important in light of recent challenges to local democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

Eun-Jung Cho, UCLG Congress 2007 manager, told delegates that the host city had proposed a congress theme of ‘changing cities are driving our world’, and that organisers were expecting 1500 mayors and representatives to attend the event.

The Commonwealth Local Government Association’s Commonwealth Local Government Conference 2007 will be held for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region in Auckland, New Zealand from March 26-29 next year (2008). New Zealand Local Government Association CEO, Mike Reid, invited delegates to  "cross the ditch" and capitalise on the opportunity to meet and learn about the diversity of local government systems and innovation.

Meanwhile, the National General Assembly passed a motion yesterday afternoon (November 28) calling on the Federal Government to "seek an investigation into the feasability and benefits of a program to transfer Australian expertise in reducing greenhouse emissions to local and provincial governments in China and India".

Moved by the City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters in South Australia, the council noted that Australia’s expertise though programs such as Cities for Climate Protection and in individual council action on climate change should be shared with these countries where some of the fastest growing economies in the world were expecting a subsequent increase in their emissions of greenhouse gases.

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