Global Local: 2021 in Recap

Happy Holidays from the Global Local team

2021 was another challenging year for local governments around the globe, who had to cope with uneven recovery attempts, service pressures, and transitions between virtual, hybrid and in-person working. COP26 spotlighted growing climate issues, while the Afghanistan government’s collapse sparked another humanitarian crisis.

The Global Local Recap is our free weekly newsletter. We launched the Recap in July to highlight how local governments were meeting these challenges. Since then, we’ve focused on sharing innovative policy, showcasing local innovation, and encouraging learning and collaboration between local governments around the world.

We hope you’ve appreciated the fresh perspectives we’ve provided on headline topics, and the attention paid to often-overlooked ones. For this edition, we’ve curated a selection of Recap highlights for you, plus some brand new pieces.

Thanks for sticking with us throughout our first year, and we look forward to continuing our journey in 2022. We always love to hear from you, so please get in touch with us with any comments, questions or suggestions for next year.

And if you’re just discovering us now, anyone can sign up to receive the Recap free! Register here and choose the Global Insight package.

The Recap in numbers
21 editions of the Global Local Recap in 2021
19 new Global Local blogs
9 resource bundles
6 Think Tank Reviews
6 podcasts on Global Local themes
4 COP26 newsletters

138 curated innovation and inspiration case studies from 50 countries
126 policy and resource examples from councils and leading institutions

7,947 Followers on our Twitter account @GlobalLocalLGIU

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay


COP26 dominated environmental discussions this year. The conference inspired both hope and frustration about the urgent international actions needed to prevent the most extreme impacts of climate change. We produced monthly COP26 newsletters in the run up to and post-conference, examining the implications for local climate action beyond political headlines.

Our COP26 newsletters included a short video explainer series on key local issues: climate adaptationjust transition and the circular economy.

We also examined local flood resilience solutions, such as floodable parks and nature-based infrastructure, and hydrogen’s potential value as a sustainable energy source.

Explore: LGIU’s COP26 and local government resource page, where you can access all of our COP26 newsletters and key discussions from our post-COP26 briefing event.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay


The Covid-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitalisation of key services across the globe, leaving local governments to face the impacts of a widening digital divide that exacerbates existing inequalities.

Across three editions, we explored how local governments can play vital roles in facilitating digital and financial inclusion, stopping the spread of false information and deploying smart technologies in an equitable and sustainable way.

Explore: Our smart cities resource bundle includes a new article by LGIU’s Melissa Thorne and Kat McManus for Government Business magazine.

Learn: Misinformation and disinformation: how can local government tackle it? Sign up for our online training next February to learn strategies and explore good practice examples.

Social welfare

The Recap focused on local government’s key social justice role from a number of perspectives this year, as pandemic impacts continue to reverberate. We examined how community gardens can empower citizens and improve food security, as well as how municipal initiatives can support at-risk people and help to prevent crime. We also explored how municipalities are building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities.

The humanitarian crisis following the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan this year left local governments with the responsibility of helping more refugees to settle and integrate into their areas. We highlighted local policy that supports and empowers migrants and asylum seekers.

Explore: Our refugees and resettlement resource bundle highlights the crucial role that municipalities play to support refugees and showcases innovative policy examples.


Planning together

Questioning what it really means to build back better led us to look at three innovative approaches gaining traction around the globe. Firstly, we highlighted approaches to community wealth building: an emerging economic paradigm seeking to ensure that wealth generated within a local economy benefits local residents, businesses and organisations.

We considered how planning with children and young people can create better places for everyone, by prioritising outdoor spaces, playful activities, easy mobility and safety. Finally, the Recap also explored how local governments can facilitate low carbon housing – considered crucial for global climate efforts and reducing living costs.

Revisit: Community wealth building initiatives in Australia and Scotland were the focus of our virtual Global Local Executive Panel with VLGA in August. LGIU members can watch the event recording here. Not a member? Our live Twitter thread highlights key points and resources.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Arts and culture

Local arts and culture are a significant, but often undervalued, way of bringing communities together and helping people to work through challenges from a fresh perspective. Libraries, an essential frontline service, have been forced to adapt and broaden their remit after sustained threats from funding cuts and Covid-19 disruption. We shared examples of global library innovation, from creating a spice donation bank to loaning air quality testing equipment.

We also highlighted how local governments can create a platform for place-based regional and rural creative industries by developing community assets, offering targeted grants and supporting artist residencies.

Read: Our brand new blog about a very cool cat called Eugene Eyebrow. This book written to celebrate difference is being used by Cork City Libraries, Ireland, to help families with hearing impaired members enjoy story time together.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Democracy and governance

From hotly-contested local elections to controversial devolution proposals, discussions around local democracy and governance remained prominent this year. Two Recap editions were dedicated to different models of subnational governance.

We explored the opportunities and challenges of global place-based deals, including city deals. We also looked at Aotearoa New Zealand local governance structures, as the country has been praised for its pandemic management and better practice around wellbeing policy and relationships with Indigenous communities.

Read: This blog reflecting on the success of UK City Deals by LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West.

Podcast highlights

The LGIU podcast went from strength to strength this year, as we featured amazing international guests and officially launched the Global Local podcast. Subscribe in your favourite podcast app. Here are some highlights to enjoy over the festive season:

  • Our brand new episode is on [true] crime and local government. In the first half, Heather Wilson from Bradford Council, UK, discusses how they’re working to help young people avoid crime, before we borrow from the true crime genre with a localgov whodunnit.
  • We talk rubbish and carbon confusion this episode, with insights from Melbourne, Australia, on waste reduction and how to add a fun circular economy twist to your seasonal festivities.
  • In our Indigenous communities and local government episode, we interview councillor Sherri Rollins from Winnipeg, Canada, about being an Indigenous woman in local government and why representation matters.

Get involved!

We’re really proud of what we’ve produced this year and couldn’t have done it without you reading and engaging with the Recap. So, thank you.

If you’ve been inspired by the Recap this year, we’d love you to get involved in Global Local.

You can take part in three ways:

  1. We’re always looking for your stories of innovation and improvement – on any topic. Drop us a line at [email protected] or fill in this simple form on our website.
  2. We’d love you to participate in our virtual Global Local Executive panels!
    Find out more on our website or contact [email protected].
  3. Help us to spread the word!
    Share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues or follow us on Twitter.
Next week, we’ll showcase spectacular town hall lights displays to celebrate the festive season. In the new year, we’ll ask what topics you want us to cover and share a new research paper on global health inequalities.