Sutcliffe was integrally involved in the transition process from an undemocratic, racist South Africa to a free and democratic state. He was involved in developing the ANC’s policy positions, the Local Government White Paper process and the development of the local government legislation.
Over the past 30 years, Sutcliffe has acted as a consultant to a wide range of local and international organizations and continues to serve as a board member of a number of developmental organizations. During this period he has written over 500 articles and reports on a wide range of issues, from demarcation and delimitation issues to urbanization, economic analysis and analysing political trends. He continues to research local government in South Africa. He has received a number of awards, most recently receiving a prestigious professional award from the Association of American Geographers.
Sutcliffe has been invited to present papers at conferences in the following countries: Canada, Mexico, UK, Sweden, Turkey, France, Norway, Australia, USA, Tanzania, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, India, Bahrain, Kenya, Brazil, Zambia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Germany and Spain. In addition, he has attended and presented papers at over 200 conferences in southern Africa and South Africa.
Sutcliffe was Co-Chair of the UCLG’s Commission on Urban Strategic Planning and an international Board member of the Global Cities Indicator Forum. He was appointed in 2015 by the Minister of Higher Education to serve as the Chairperson of the Local Government Skills and Education Authority of South Africa.