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Local economic development (LED) is key to achieve sustainable development goals as well as a pathway to eradicate poverty and increase shared prosperity. Cities in MENA have registered relatively dynamic economic growth and investment rates during the first decade of the century, however, political instability and security threats have considerably slowed economic prospects. Among the identified challenges that impacted local economic performance are the lack of financial resources and capital, the lack of good infrastructure, and low economic participation of youth and women. Overcoming the economic impacts inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic is an added challenge to municipalities. Against this background, mobilising funds for economic recovery and planning for green economic transformation are rendered a priority across the region.
It is necessary to find an evidence-based approach for economic development strategies that capitalize on prospects and are contextualized to the local needs and resources. Some cities in MENA have managed to ground strategies in local economic realities and to build growth coalitions between public and private stakeholders while finding ingenious ways to leverage the capabilities of their coalition partners when they lacked the capacity or financial resources.
In 2020, CMI started collaborating with the Connective Cities program, a GIZ-managed global knowledge exchange program that aims to promote the international exchange of experiences among urban practitioners, joint learning, collegial advice, and development of joint projects between municipalities in Germany and the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
This collaboration between CMI and Connective Cities consists of virtual events and practical workshop series committed to supporting selected projects ideas through knowledge exchange, technical and financial advisory support from regional and international experts.
Leveraging on its Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN), the CMI collaborated with GIZ and Connective Cities by including selected members of the HMLN in the Practitioners’ Workshop on “Local Economic Development and Job Creation in the Middle East and North Africa” (September 29 – October 7, 2020), where more than 40 local urban practitioners from 22 municipalities and 10 countries from the MENA region and Germany learned how to develop a municipal project proposal, and eight proposals were developed from MENA cities. The event allowed to exchange experiences, create dialogue and brainstorm on strategic planning for LED, sustainable livelihood opportunities and social enterprise, and public investments in green infrastructure and circular economies. It aimed at promoting the exchange of expertise of good practices for planning and implementing LED and job creation programs in cities in MENA, and to develop the capacities of participants to analyse challenges in LED and support needed.
After the success of this collaboration, the CMI and Connective Cities expended their joint work for supporting municipalities from both networks to increase their municipal funding for development projects. This brought to a Virtual Event on “How to prepare a successful project funding proposal” (December 7, 2020), where participants heard an expert’s advice and the successful example of Saida Municipality, Lebanon, and two project proposals were presented for feedback from Balama Municipality, Jordan, and Qalqiliya Municipality, Palestine.
This virtual project workshop “Local Economic Development and Job Creation in MENA” will run in follow-up to the first Virtual Dialogue Event held online in October 2020.
This upcoming project workshop series aims to further develop the project ideas discussed in October and December 2020, by revising strategic approaches with the support of relevant regional and international experts. The specific objectives of the workshops are to:
From the municipal projects developed during the previous event, six have been selected to proceed to this next phase and receive support from experts:
This virtual project workshop series will take place on 19th – 20th of January 2021, followed by two virtual sessions on funding proposal writing and financing of municipal projects on the 21st and 25th of January respectively.
Since 2013, the international platform Connective Cities has been bringing together international experts from municipal practice, civil society, science, and industry. Connective Cities is a cooperation project of the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ), Engagement Global with its service agency Communities in One World, and the German Association of Cities. For more information on past and future activities, please visit: www.connective-cities.net. For joining the Connective Cities virtual platform, an open platform for cities from all around the globe to get together, network and exchange, please visit https://community.connective-cities.net/
To support local authorities in facing challenges arising from hosting refugees, since 2016, the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) manages the Mediterranean Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN). The HMLN provides a platform for peer-to-peer learning, training and collaboration for local governments hosting refugees in the Middle East and Turkey and contributes to improving capacities of local authority representatives for ensuring the common welfare of host communities and refugees through regular face-to-face workshops, trainings, online discussions, and periodic collection of experiences implemented in local governments hosting refugees.
Given limited availability, participation to this event is upon invitation only. Previous participation to the first Project Workshop in October 2020 is a requirement for selection.