The Commonwealth Local Government Conference was held this week in Kampala with thr thrust of addressing local authorities' focused development.
Hosting under the theme 'Developmental local government: putting local government at the heart of development' drew participants from all over the world with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni giving the inaugural address.
Others who addressed the gathering included Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, President of Sri Lanka and the incoming chair of the Commonwealth Mahinda Rajapaska as well as a message from the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
In a keynote speech he delivered Thursday, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos said as one who worked with cities closely he understood well the challenges facing those in charge of running the cities.
He said that whereas the developing world had issues like poverty and rampant slums to deal with, the developed world was also facing problems unique to it.
"There are different problems facing the developed world and chief among these are inequality and unhappiness", he said.
The Executive Director said that the local authorities must stand firm on the need to plan their cities and towns. "The most essential function of local authorities is local physical planning. If you do not plan it will be too expensive both politically and economically later", he said.
Dr. Clos however noted that although planning was imperative, he was also aware that many local authorities were too weak to implement the same.
In his address the chair of the Commonwealth Local Governments Forum Lawrence Yule said that a different approach to development was now coming to the fore, one that focused on democratic governance, local resources and social capital.
"This approach puts local governments at the heart of development and is being championed as the most effective approach to development", he said.