The Voice of the Cities

Connective Cities Dialogue Event for Local Government Associations


As cities become more important, so do their associations: Local Government Associations are more and more recognized nationally and internationally as the “Voice of the Cities”. They articulate the local governments’ interests, exert pressure on the national level to create suitable frame conditions, provide information and support the capacity building of their members.

25 experts from 11 local government associations met in the Cologne Headquarters of the Association of German Cities from 9 to 11 July 2018 to exchange their practical knowhow of the daily associative work. They focused on four concrete areas of LGA action:

  • Structure, processes and financing of LGA
  • Representation of local government interests and influence on law-making
  • Thematic members’ committees and working groups
  • Membership services for training and exchange of municipal knowhow

For each topic, the participants from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ghana, Lebanon, Moldova, Mozambique, Peru, Serbia, South Africa and Tanzania presented their good practices and gave mutual advice on concrete challenges and developed action plans for further cooperation.

The event also included a question-and-answer-session with Vice-Mayor Mr Andreas Wolter and a guided thematic tour on local self-administration.


Boris Tonhauser, Platforma

Lance Joel, SALGA
Introduction to SALGA

Sabine Drees, Association of German Cities



Sina Webber, Connective Cities
Introduction to Connective Cities

Benjamin Jeromin, Connective Cities
Networking opportunities for project planning




Group 1: Structure, processes and financing of LGA

CALM (Moldova)
Representation of LGs interests and influence on politicians – holistic approach

NALAG (Ghana)
Internal reforms for a stronger association

DST (Germany)
Ensuring political and financial independence of the Association of German Cities


Group 2: Representation of local government interests and influence on law-making

United Cities Lebanon
The National Program of Support to Lebanese Municipalities

SALGA (South Africa)
SALGA’s representation role in intergovernmental relations

DST (Germany)
Sustainable funding for public traffic


Group 3: Thematic members’ committees and working groups

SCTM (Serbia)
Establishment and functioning of SCTM Networks

DST (Germany)
Financing local expenditures for Refugees

AMPE (Peru)
Program of Incentives for the Improvement of Municipal Management


Group 4: Membership services for training and exchange of municipal knowhow

ALAT (Tanzania)
Mayors Award Scheme

ANAMM (Mozambique)
Strengthening the capacities of municipal assemblies (councilors) through peer learning

AACT (Austria)
Development of multiple online tools for cities in order to meet the new data protection standards


The event showed that the common purpose of the national LGAs, to represent local governments’ interests, creates a common identity and understanding of challenges. However, there are significant differences in the self-concept of LGAs: Some LGA rely, at least partly, on central governments’ funds, whereas others categorically exclude receiving funding other than their members’ fees. Some are formally or informally included in the lawmaking process at the central level, others focus on soft power, the public opinion and agenda setting. They also differ in the focus of their activities: Some LGA focus on capacity building and individual support to their members, others only take action on behalf of interests shared by all their members. These basic concepts result in different structures and action, reflected in the good practices shared.

As a result of the event, three project ideas were elaborated:

  • Implementation of a helpdesk for members.

  • Strengthen the LGAs’ capacity to support their members in the localization and reporting of the SDGs

  • Support and advice in the field of migration, immigration and asylum

The discussions and project ideas will be given a follow-up by Connective Cities.


The report of this event is available for download here.


Categories: Documentation Good Urban Governance Decentralisation
Regions: Africa Ghana South Africa Tansania Belgium Brussels Germany Berlin Bonn Cologne Austria Vienna Latin America Peru Lima Lebanon Beirut


Related events