Local authorities are being urged to step up their levels of international
activity and to appoint an elected councillor and an officer to be responsible
for international development. The call, from the Local Government Association
and Local Government International Bureau came as the leaders of the world’s
most powerful nations concluded their meeting in Scotland.
The LGA has revised its all-party strategy on international development and is
arguing that overseas work should not be regarded as peripheral. Instead, it
says, the positive effects such work can have should ensure that it is accepted
as an important part of an authority’s activities, with on-going cross-party
The LGA says that as well as the benefits that local government international
development work can bring to this country, it can be crucial in alleviating the
poverty that affects more than a third of the world’s population. It highlights
the importance of local initiatives by quoting a United Nations estimate that 70
per cent of the Millennium Development Goals to cut world poverty and hunger and
boost health will be achieved through action at the local level.
Councillor Ken Bodfish of the LGA European and International Panel, said British
local authority partnerships overseas were already helping to make a difference
in developing countries. “International work isn’t charity. It brings benefits
here in the UK too,” he said and he cited Swansea’s link with Nantong in China,
as an example. It had boosted trade and job creation efforts, he said.
Somerset’s link with Mufalira in Zambia, he added, had helped promote
understanding and tolerance.