25 years working for urban development in the Mediterranean

On November 1991, under the initiative of the METAP Programme on environmental improvement in the Mediterranean, 15 coastal Mediterranean cities met in Barcelona and created the MedCities network. From that moment until now, the network has grown reaching 44 members at the beginning of 2016

The Barcelona Charter signed by the initial 15 cities, was a strong commitment towards the establishment of a major Mediterranean decentralised cooperation in order to promote awareness on urban environmental problems and empower municipalities on urban environmental management issues.

The engagement of MedCities led to the definition of projects focused on poverty alleviation, the improvement of quality of life, environmental issues and urban development. The key elements that described the action of the network were the promotion of citizen active participation and the empowerment of local authorities. MedCities continues offering this support. Since then, the network has extended its activities from the initial local environment to the wider local sustainable development field.

During these 25 years, MedCities has developed a long list of projects in the fields of Waste Management, Air Quality and Mobility, Water Management and City Development. The main examples of this active and wide support are the big efforts dedicated to the definition of urban development strategies in Mediterranean cities such as Tripoli (Lebanon), Tetuan (Morocco), Sfax and Sousse (Tunisia), Saida (Lebanon) and Larnaca (Cyprus). These last three cases where the result of USUDS project leaded by MedCities and aimed at promoting urban sustainable development in the region.

On the other hand, MedCities has always acted as a lobby of cities to reinforce the role of local authorities in the Mediterranean, in cooperation with other international actors. MedCities takes part in several international forums and platforms, to internationally become an active and project-oriented network. This visibility is put at the service of our members to contribute to the implementation of their projects.

All these actions have been a modest but committed contribution to the Mediterranean development, and an important element to build cooperation relations between different actors of the region. Taking into consideration the difficult situation and the context of instability that has always defined the Mediterranean, networking is a big challenge but a greater need to achieve an improvement in the political, social and economic development of this region.