The Administrative Meeting of UCLG-MEWA Committee on City Diplomacy and Local Governance and City Diplomacy and Local Governance Training Program were held on 15-16 December with the active participation of our members. The first day started with the Administrative Meeting, where the Committee’s report of activities and 3-year program of activities were discussed and approved by the committee members. In addition, the membership request of Sultanbeyli Municipality (Istanbul, Turkey), which applied for membership of the committee following the committee’s last administrative meeting, was discussed and accepted. The last point stated at the meeting was that a new membership call will be announced at the beginning of the next year and that the committee is looking forward to welcoming its new members. Following the administrative meeting which ended with the expression of best wishes by all members, Fatma Şahin, President of the Committee and the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, and Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary-General, delivered their opening speeches at the training program. Şahin said during her speech, “There is a global challenge. We are going through a pandemic. We have a national struggle, but the most important thing is implementation. What we call implementation is the direct working area of local governments. I attach much importance to the policy paper of the UCLG-MEWA Committee on City Diplomacy and Local Governance since development starts at the local level.” In his opening speech, Duman said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic conditions, we are aware of how essential city diplomacy, local governance, and decentralized cooperation are for a livable future. During this process, dialogues and cooperation of cities have indisputable importance to address this global struggle.”
During the training program aimed at introducing the concepts of city diplomacy and local governance to the relevant local government staff members with implementation-based practices, the latest city diplomacy and local governance trends were shared with the participants. Following the opening speeches, Jessie Post, Project Manager at the VNG, explained the concept of city diplomacy from UCLG’s perspective. Cemal Baş, UCLG World Council member, took the floor to talk about the history of city diplomacy and shared the latest approaches to city diplomacy with the participants. Yunus Biçer, Foreign Relations Specialist at the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, presented the internationally accepted protocol rules in the session titled “Doing it Right.” Protocol rules such as greetings and procedures that a guest mayor should pay attention to were discussed. UCLG Learning team and Platforma organized the last session of the first day titled “SDGs as a Leverage to Develop City Diplomacy and Decentralized Cooperation.” During the session which analyzed the objectives underlying the interaction of local governments with decentralized cooperation, the legal frameworks that cities are subject to, and the dynamics of City2City learning, integrated, multi-level governance and partnership-based approaches were advocated. In the interactive session, “MEWA Region Decentralized Cooperation Bicycle” was created with the help of an online application called “Menti.” During this session, participants answered the questions asked to measure decentralized cooperation practices specific to the region.
On the second day which focused on local governance, the session titled “Good Governance at Local Level” was opened by Dr. Erkin Erimez, Academy Academic Board Member of Argüden Governance. While referring to the principles and examples of good governance throughout the session, Erimez underlined transparency and participation, which are significant for establishing an environment of trust in local governance. As one of the instructors of the last session, İnan İzci, Local Governance Expert at Argüden Governance Academy, explained the local governance scorecard project. He shared his knowledge on integrated thinking in municipalities, policy recommendations for local government stakeholders, and the localization model of local governance. The intensive program, which lasted for one and a half days, ended with a vote of thanks delivered by Mehmet Duman.