MedCities workshop on the implementation of strategic projects on urban sustainable development

In the frame of MedCities General Assembly 2014, a training workshop took place with the participation of around 30 cities of the Mediterranean and a total of 60 persons. 

The workshop took place in Izmir on the 13th and 14th November 2014 and had two particular focuses: on one hand to promote the strategic approach in the definition and design of urban projects and on the other hand to identify multi-partner cooperation projects among the members of the network.

The afternoon of the 13th November was dedicated to round table debates by members of the Network on their experience in the definition and implementation of strategic projects as well as on the instruments and partnerships that MedCities offers to its members.

In the initial conference, Mr. Guy Fleuret of the Union of the Mediterranean, explained the role of this institution in promoting urban sustainable development, especially through the Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI).

In the first round table, the experiences of the cities of Tétouan, Saida, Sousse, Izmir and Larnaka were presented with regards to the methodology and financial solutions they have used for defining and implementing their strategic projects. Some of their future projects were briefly presented in the Seminar, explaining the partnerships built upon them and the strategy for fundraising.

In the second round table, the focus was put on the instruments and support mechanisms that MedCities offers to its members for promoting project implementation. The new webpage of MedCities was presented: the site can be a valuable tool for promoting the strategy of each city and the strategic project implementation since it contains a Showroom of strategic projects identified by each city and awaiting funding, a list of Best Practices identified on project implementation as well as resources and material relative to urban project implementation.

Furthermore, the role of the Knowledge Transfer Centres (KTCs) as territorial antennas of the Network was presented to the participants. The KTCs become an important element in the strategy of territorialisation of the MedCities network, by offering support to cities in the Maghreb and Middle East regions respectively, for identifying urban projects with a strategic approach as well as for fundraising for their implementation. The three KTCs, created in the frame of the USUDS project, managed to acquire funding for the following year in order to consolidate their viability.

Last, the role of the peer-to-peer cooperation was explained in the workshop as one of the additional assets that cities have in their disposal. The experience of putting in place technical assistance and accompaniment missions, under the USUDS project, has given fruitful results and has shown that such type of cooperation is cost and time effective. Moreover, these exchanges can give birth to a long term collaboration between the cities members of the Network in implementing strategic projects.

The first session of the Workshop concluded with the interventions of a representative of AVITEM and a representative from the World Bank in the Urban Hub of the Centre of Mediterranean Integration (CMI), two institutions that work closely with MedCities for the implementation of urban projects in the Mediterranean region.

The second day of the Workshop was dedicated to the definition of future multi-partner projects among the members of MedCities based on the priorities of project implementation identified in their cities. An initial exposition was done by the international expert, Mr. Albert Sorrosal, who focused on the key strategic lines and programs of the European Union in the Mediterranean region for 2014-2020 and presented the opportunities and challenges that the Mediterranean cities face during this EU programming period for both bilateral and multilateral project funding.

The last part of the workshop was participatory and focused on the identification of possible future cooperation project among the cities of the network, based on common problems faced and possible joint solutions to the needs detected by each city. The organisers received around 40 project ideas for either bilateral or multilateral cooperation projects that were grouped in 4 thematic categories: economic development, social cohesion, environmental protection and coastal and water management.

Each group had the participation of 5-10 persons, representatives of Mediterranean cities, ands worked towards the identification of future multi-partner projects, by advancing in the definition of objectives of intervention in the following subjects:

  • Economic development: internationalisation of SMEs; promotion of the agrofood industry; and promotion of sustainable tourism (ecotourism)
  • Social cohesion: holistic interventions for promoting social cohesion in the Medinas; promotion of district level social centres in disadvantaged neighbourhoods
  • Environment: experimentation for the creation of ecological districts, promotion of energy efficiency in the deliverance of municipal services and  innovative solutions
  • Coastal and water management:  waste water treatment; economic activities linked to the coastal zone and the port; access and link between the city and the sea; protection of the sea shore and prevention of erosion; tourism and preserved coastal resources

The results of these workshops will be analysed in order to create thematic working groups and start building project proposals for future funding opportunities.