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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges in countries already struggling to manage the additional social and economic pressure of hosting refugees and displaced. The lockdown measures put in place in many countries led to closure of businesses and halt of economic activities. Although social support measures were put in place, informal workers and those with irregular work contracts have lost their jobs. In addition, the temporary closure of some economic sectors – such as tourism – brought on disruption in supply chains leading to closure of some businesses. With rising unemployment and an increase in vulnerable households, public authorities are now trying to find ways to support the economic pitfall that will emerge.
Solutions could come by involving the private sector in local development responses, while supporting local businesses face the crisis. With investment plummeting, and associated job destructions and losses, public authorities can play a role ensuring a strong recovery by engaging the private sector broadly. Local authorities, who know best the potential of their area and the needs of their residents, can attract the private sector to take part in development projects and can provide support to local businesses. This would benefit local and displaced populations directly (through job creation) and indirectly (as a spillover to the local growth), ultimately benefitting the local economy. A strong private sector also benefits host local governments in return, bringing taxes, attractive economic environment, and stimulating more investments.
Local authorities are the first respondents to crises but need additional support. The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated pre-existing challenges for municipalities. In needs assessments and consultations organized by the CMI, local authorities members of the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN) expressed their increased need of support for continuing to provide a livable local economic environment to all residents, and asked for more guidance on how to engage the private sector for the benefit of their populations, including refugees. Main challenges identified by local authorities are notably lack of municipal funding for much-needed development projects, and an impellent need of digitalization to face future crises.
Municipalities who are members of the HMLN recognize that the private sector can offer an opportunity to exit the COVID-19 crisis and generate jobs and revenues for all. They acknowledge that the local business environment must be supported, and private sector actors must be engaged to develop innovative solutions for local populations, including increasing local employment and provide cohesion. However, while partnering with the private sector could be a solution, HMLN members also recognized their lack of knowledge on how to engage with private actors. In particular, one of the priorities set by HMLN members is that of continuing their development projects in spite of the low municipal financing by partnering with private sector actors, and that of fostering refugee and local entrepreneurship.
This online training workshop builds on consultations and online exchanges among local authorities and development partners highlighting the main challenges and immediate needs to recover the local economy from the COVID-19 crisis in a context of forced displacement, and to develop investment projects benefitting host and forcibly displaced communities.
Drawing upon HMLN members’ learning requests, and in continuation with the HMLN activities undertaken before the new COVID-19 crisis, the training will focus on improving the capacities of municipal staff and elected representatives to implement private sector-driven solutions for a better local economic environment to refugees and vulnerable hosts alike.
The event will specifically aim to:
i) Deepen the knowledge and build capacities of local and central government authorities on private sector engagement in a forced displacement context, with a special focus on actions to recover the local economy following the COVID-19 crisis;
ii) Support peer-to-peer learning and showcase successful local solutions and good practices for unlocking the role of the private sector in support of refugees and vulnerable local communities;
The event will provide participants with targeted training on how to support the local business environment and how to strengthen partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to complete municipal development projects. The training will adopt an original methodology on “How to draft private sector engagement strategies in forced displacement contexts”. The methodology will target specifically local authorities (municipalities, governorates, and Unions of Municipalities), and has been drafted by the CMI in collaboration with experts on the topic.
Each participant will need to attend six online sessions lasting half-day each and complete offline assignments. The training will follow the methodology and will be divided in several sessions:
The training will focus on the following sub-topics:
Simultaneous translation will be provided during the workshop for English and Arabic only.
The event will train representatives of about 45 municipalities from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey. The event will also accept participation of selected representatives of national governments, actors from the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and development organizations working with private sector actors and host communities.
The CMI will pre-select participants among HMLN members on the basis of already expressed needs and situation, HMLN membership, active participation in latest online activities of the HMLN, and in consultation with partners. In order to be invited to the event, pre-selected participants will need to demonstrate their motivation and commitment to attend the event in full.
The training welcomes the participation of up to 2 representatives per local government.
Agenda and Concept Note