Global Peers Exchange Experiences at NLC Conference

March 26, 2012
Both the Congressional City Conference and the Congress of Cities and Exposition have become regular venues for NLC to engage with representatives from local governments throughout the world. With the mix of governance activities, policy debates, in-depth workshops, networking opportunities and thought-provoking guest speakers, the two annual meetings offer a vivid glimpse of the policy priorities and leadership skills in place in U.S. cities and towns. .

Elected local officials from South Africa and England and municipal professional staffs from Germany participated in the 2012 Congressional City Conference, held March 10-14 in Washington, D.C. Although the focus of these visits relates to the work of NLC's International Council, under the leadership of Henrietta Davis, mayor, Cambridge, Mass., these international visitors also took part in sessions of the Leadership Training Institute and were welcomed at the U.S. Department of State for a multi-tiered set of briefings and presentations on trade promotion, foreign direct investment and the economic foundations of twinning relationships. 

Councillor Sir Ron Watson, CBE, delivered the keynote address to the International Council. His remarks focused on comparative local government systems with a particular focus on health care management in the UK and the U.S. 

The nine-person delegation from South Africa, a mix of elected officials and staff from NLC's counterpart organization - the South Africa Local Government Association (SALGA) - focused its attention on skills building and increasing its network of partners toward the goal of global economic competitiveness. The nation's Ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, also addressed the NLC International Council on the importance of the partnership established last year between NLC and SALGA. 

In September of 2011, at the SALGA Congress of elected local government officials, NLC leadership formally signed an agreement pledging cooperation for the mutual benefit of both organizations and nations. Many U.S. communities have sister city ties in South Africa. Among those cities whose leaders met with their South African counterparts during the conference were Milwaukee, Wisc., Hattiesburg, Miss., Wichita, Kan., and Washington, D.C. 

The International Council meeting at the Congressional City Conference concluded with a briefing about plans for significant local government participation from around the world in the June Earth Summit in Brazil. The conference, known as Rio+20, will focus on sustainable development, economic progress, poverty reduction and stronger government commitments to the vision put forth at the first Earth Summit 20 years ago. 

NLC will play a role in Rio through the programs on sustainability within the Center for Research and Innovation, through partnerships with the U.S. government organizing agencies (primarily the State Department) and through membership in United Cities and Local Governments, a global association of local authorities and municipal associations.

Details: To learn more about NLC's International program, contact brooks@nlc.org.