More than 40 local urban practitioners from 22 municipalities and 10 countries from the MENA region and Germany took part of the virtual dialogue event organized by the Connective Cities project. The dialogue event consisted of five virtual sessions held between the Sep 29th – Oct 7th focusing on facilitating the exchange of know-how and experiences through peer-to-peer learning among municipal representatives and urban practitioners. Moreover, the dialogue event aimed at enriching the analysis and planning capacity of the participating municipal representatives to address existing challenges of implementing LED and job creation programs. The discussion also led to identifying the gaps in resources and the support needed to implement future LED projects.
Local economic development (LED) remains a top priority for cities in MENA and a driver for economic stability and job creation for a region with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. A wide spectrum of stakeholders are engaged in fostering LED including governments, NGOs, the private sector, and development actors. Nevertheless, there remains the need to intensify exchange of practice-oriented experience and good practice among municipal representatives and urban practitioners on related topics such as strategizing for LED and creating partnerships with the private sector, sustainable livelihood programs and decent job creation, as well as green economic transformation.
The facilitation approach focused on designing, planning, and conducting a series of virtual knowledge-exchange activities in which several steps were taken:
The project has built a Network, an exchange platform for municipal representatives and urban practitioners, which provides a systematic access to practice-oriented solutions for sustainable urban development by facilitating change and providing mutual support.
From a thematic standpoint, the Connective Cities virtual dialogue event has focused on the following subtopics:
Against this background, the virtual dialogue event was clustered according to the aforementioned thematic priorities that represent the thematic subtopics. This entails facilitating exchange of practical know-how and peer-to-peer consultations among participants in accordance to these subtopics.
Mr. Mohamed Saadieh - President of Union of Dannieh Municipalities, President of UCLG-MEWA
Ms. Giulia Marchesini- Senior partnership officer, Centre for Mediterranean Integration
Mr. Alexander Schmidbauer- Entrepreneurship/Startup Consultant -Munich Business Start-up Office (MEB)
Ms. Dana AlZoubi - Advisor to Minister of MITS- Director of Economic Policy, Jordan
Dr. Fred Boustany, CEO of Toyota in Lebanon
Ms. Hanane Haber, Hazmieh municipality
Mr. Lance Morrell, Founder and Managing Director of FEI Consulting, LLC
Mr. Mohammad Zawahreh, Former CEO of Zarqa municipality
Group 1: The rehabilitation of the old town of As-Samou' municipality (Hosh As-Safi)
Working group: Union of Dannieh Municipalities, Lebanon/ As-samou’ municipality, Palestine/ Balama municipality, Jordan
Group 3: Sfax Business Centre
Working group: Ramallah municipality, Palestine/ Sfax municipality, Tunis
Group 4: Cash-for-work, Baghdad, Iraq
Working group: Baghdad municipality, Iraq/ Alexandria governorate, Egypt (represented by GIZ EG)/ Gaza municipality, Palestine
Group 5: Home-based enterprises in the food processing industry in Qalqilya
Working group: Qalqilya municipality, Palestine/ Ajja municipality, Palestine/ Al Junied municipality, Jordan
Group 6: Center for Training and Development for women and with special needs, Hay Al-Andalus Municipality
Working group: Hay Al Andalus municipality, Libya/ Irbid municipality, Jordan/ Zliten municipality, Libya
Group 7: Improving the environmental and economic sustainability of olive oil Industry in Palestine (EN-SOIP project)
Working group: Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany/ Batna municipality, Algeria/ Great Absan municipality, Palestine
Group 8: Bethlehem Waste Sorting and Treatment Station
Working group: Mafraq municipality, Jordan/ Agadir municipality, Morocco/ Bethlehem municipality, Palestine.
The virtual dialogue event has proven that municipalities are keen to learn from existing practices and knowledge in the region. Working in groups, participants exchanged ideas, worked collaboratively, and developed project ideas addressing local needs and opportunities in their cities. Participants have engaged in many activities to design, analyse and develop LED interventions customized for their cities, taking into account: the local and national priorities, the municipalities own resources that can be invested in promoting LED projects, as well as the competitive advantage of their localities to attract investments.
Throughout the dialogue event, participants showed tremendous commitment to the program and dedication that remained high till the end of the final session, in which they presented their LED project ideas in less than 3 minutes; an activity that reflected their understanding of project development process as well as the methodology of the peer-to-peer advisory.
Here is the link to the recording of the presented project ideas:
Detailed documentation [pdf]:
Local Economic Development and Job Creation in MENA
Connective Cities Dialogue Event from 29th September to 7th of October 2020