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CITY TO CITY DIALOGUE CONFERENCE: “CITIES AS DRIVERS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH – VISION 2030”

On 11 and 12 April 2019, the City to City Dialogue Conference: “Cities as Drivers of Economic Growth – Vision 2030” took place in Skopje and Veles, Republic of North Macedonia. The conference explored the role of cities and municipalities in the economic development agenda, how it can be enhanced for the benefit of the citizens of South-East Europe and what are the best practices that cities can learn from.

The event, organised by NALAS and the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (WB UPP), was one of the rare opportunities for local elected officials and local government practitioners of South-East Europe to look at the decentralisation from the wider development perspective and exchange practices and know how to improve public services. The event had the ambition to contribute to positioning the local governments as important drivers of growth in the regional cooperation agenda. As the member of NALAS since 2008, Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) representatives Mr. M. Cemil Arslan, MMU Secretary General and Ms. Burcuhan Sener, MMU International Cooperation Coordinator actively participated in the conference.

On April 11, 2019 participants had a study visit in the City of Veles, hosted by the Mayor of Veles, Mr. Ace Kocovski. Mayor Ace Kocevski shared Veles’ commitment toward becoming a smart city through implementing “Veles Smart City – Strategy for development 2019 -2030”. 

A panel discussion, led my moderator Mr. Stefan Friedrichs, with speakers representing local authorities, private sector and NGOs was organized within the premises of the Municipality of Veles. The importance of cooperation between different levels of governments, private sector and civil sector was emphasized.

On April 12, 2019  the opening speeches were delivered by the President of NALAS, Mr. Petre Shielgov, Mr. Suhejl Fazliu, Minister of Local Self -Government,  Mr. Zoran Sapuric, Minister without Portfolio, in charge of Regulations for Improvement of the Investment Climate for Domestic Companies, Mr. Andrej Zernovski, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Amer Kapetanovic, RCC Head of Political Department as well as Mr. Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, through video communication. 

The panel discussions organized provided a fertile ground to gain insights of the status of MAP REA, and the role that LGs and LGAs can play in the implementation. The panels also allowed to gain an overview of the WB UPP Western Balkans Urbanisation Review, Better Cities, Better World: A Handbook on Local Governments Self-Assessments, RCC Balkan Barometer and the NALAS Regional Decentralisation Observatory. 

Keynote addresses were delivered by the Mayor of Tirana, Mr. Erion Veliaj, who emphasized that “Cities should be for the people and not for the cars” while talking about his efforts to make Tirana greener. Mr. Vladimir Babić, from Ljubljana also addressed the audience, and talked about how Ljubljana became the European Green Capital.

Furthermore, four workshops were organized within the Conference, on the following topics:
1. Smart Cities. Digitalisation for LED
2. Innovative Strategies and Tools for Planning and Creating Sustainable Cities - TOD and Placemaking
3. “Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) and Sustainable Energy and Climate Planning (SECAP) - drivers of development and sustainable growth”
4. Citizen to Engage in Cities

The closing remarks of the Conference City to City Dialogue: “Cities as Drivers of Economic Growth – Vision 2030”, were conveyed by Mr. Petre Shilegov, Mayor of Skopje, President of NALAS and H.E. Mr. Wojciech Jerzy Tyciński, Ambassador of Poland in North Macedonia. 

 

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