On 11 and 12 April, the City to City Dialogue: “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, 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.
On April 11, 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. During the study tour in Veles, the delegates also had the opportunity to visit the Industrial Zone and the Chateau Sopot winery, to showcase the importance of regional cooperation for local development.
On April 12, 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 provided a fertile ground to gain insights of the status of MAP REA, and the role that LGs and LGAs can play in the implemention. 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.
Key note 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 Conferece, 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 and H.E. Mr. Wojciech Jerzy Tyciński, Ambassador of Poland in North Macedonia.
“It has been a fascinating experience for all of us today to hear all the relevant exchange we had on the Berlin Process and its Regional Economic Area with different actors involved in the process. It became quite clear that it is not “IF” but “HOW” the local governments and their associations need to be involved in the process. I personally welcome the invitation of the Polish Ministry of Investment and Regional Development extended to NALAS in the frame of the Berlin process, to co-organise under its lead together with the Polish Association of Cities and the Polish Union of the Provinces the session on June 6th of the Forum of Cities and Regions, which is an important side event of the Western Balkan Policy Summit of Poznan 2019. This will be a platform of exchange regarding challenges and opportunities, we as local governments face in our region, in a direct dialogue with our Polish interlocutors. It will furthermore be an excellent opportunity to stress the potential contribution of the local government level in the Western Balkan countries to the Regional Economic Area and, we should all welcome this occasion in order to voice our recommendations to the EU and our government representatives regarding this ambitious initiative, which will generate new impulse to the EU enlargement process of the whole region from a local government perspective. I personally thank also the Mayor of Tirana, Mr Veliaj, and the representative of City of Ljubljana, Mr Babic, for their inspiring presentations. And of course, I thank all presenters, who contributed to the thematic workshops. We will process their recommendations and provide adequate follow up. I believe, we are today all inspired about the potentials in developing e-gov and smart city solutions, modernize sustainable urban mobility plans, include climate elements in our energy action plans and contribute by localising SDGs to the 2030 Agenda.” concluded Mr.Petre Shilegov, Mayor of Skopje, President of NALAS.
To see more pictures from the event, please click here. Pictures will be updated continuously.
To download the presentations from the parallel sessions, please click here.
To download the snapshot presentations of the recent studies, please click here.