Session 6


Sustainable Urbanisation and Local Economic Development in the context of COVID-19

held on

Wednesday 29th July 2020 at 14:00 CAT, 13:00 BST, 12:00 UTC


The programme of events associated with a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth was launched on Wednesday 24 June 2020 under the leadership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from The Prince’s Foundation and the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure.

This event was hosted by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and focused on the importance of local economic development in cities and towns, to ensure jobs and livelihoods, unlocking local potential and strengthening value chains to underpin trade across the Commonwealth. 

The session was chaired by Dr Greg Munro with the following speakers:

  • Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown in Sierra Leone 
  • Kanyiso Walaza, Manager: Local Economic Development Policy & Practice, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), South Africa 
  • Mr Dmitry Pozhidaev, Regional Adviser for Southern and East Africa, Head of Office, Uganda/Development Policy, Economics and Finance, UNCDF 
  • Dr Eris Schoburgh, Professor in the University of West Indies – Mona campus in Jamaica 
  • Mr Md Abdul Hannan, CWEIC representative, Advisor at Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), the apex Chamber of Bangladesh and Advisor to the UN Secretary General’s Central Emergency Response Fund Advisory Group
  • Mr CK Tiwari , President, Incubation Masters , Jabalpur Innovation Centre, India 
  • Prof Alison Brown, University of Cardiff and Editor of CLGF’s journal, the Journal of Commonwealth Local Governance  

The event attracted over 140 attendees from 36 countries. Questions to the panel came from variety of sources including the Young Planners Network and many others. The live recording of this session is available to watch by clicking on the image at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • Recognition that ensuring local economic development and local economic resilience is critical for sustainable urbanisation. Covid 19 has in many ways emphasised further the importance of the “local” in local economic development.
  • Women have been disproportionately affected by the impact of Covid 19 and it is important to take practical steps to ensure local economies are inclusive and support/incubate small and medium sized businesses, women-led businesses, and entrepreneurs.
  • Local economic development should be seen as integral to national economic development plans and strategies.
  • 61% of all employment globally is informal, it is important to integrate the formal and informal and to do no harm. Better data and a good understanding of local economies will allow cities to more effectively support and enable LED with the objective of leaving no one behind.  
  • Healthy, safe cities, with access to public transport, and basic services such as waste, energy, sanitation and water are all key functions of the city which support and enable economic development and make cities and towns places where business wants to invest.
  • It is important to build meaningful partnerships between all actors in the city to support local economic development and this must include the private sector – local economic development is about understanding and using all the resources in a place, and collaboration is key to maximising benefits. 
  • Developing investment ready projects and linking them with accessible and cost effective finance is central to this and ensuring sustainable urbanisation.
  • The Commonwealth has the potential to serve as a convening force and can work at a policy level, but also mobilise the necessary multi-level, inter-disciplinary, cross-sectoral collaboration required to achieve sustainable urbanisation 
  • City leaders play a crucial role and local economic development, with a strong focus on local citizens’ priorities, should underpin the post-Covid recovery in cities and towns  
  • Sustainable and inclusive local economic development must be part of the Call to Action.

further information and resources

If you are interested in the issues raised in the programme and/or would like to become involved in a Call to Action, then please contact us at