Local Governance and City Councils Workshop took place on 27th and 28th of October 2016 with the cooperation of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Local Governance, Zeytinburnu Municipality, Union of City Councils of Turkey and Zeytinburnu City Council.
More than 150 representitives from 83 City Councils from different regions of Turkey participated to the workshop in Zeytinburnu Culture and Art Centre, hosted by Zeytinburnu Municipality. In the opening session, the program started with the speeches of Gülay SARIŞEN, term president of Union of City Councils of Turkey, Mehmet DUMAN, Secretary General of UCLG-MEWA, Murat AYDIN, Mayor of Zeytinburnu and President of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Local Governance.
In his speech, highlighting that the City Councils are one of the crucial elements of transparency and pluralistic participation, Mehmet DUMAN, Secretary General of UCLG MEWA said: “exalting the position of the citizen from right-demanding to “active citizen”, the concept of governance is not a new model by its own, but it is an initiative highlighting all the elements included in the concept of government. Our goal is to exalt the position of the citizens from being residents and make them the owners of the city.”
“Local Governments Have Been the First Exercise Areas of Democracy”
Pointing out that local governments are the first exercising areas of democracy, Murat AYDIN, Mayor of Zeytinburnu and President of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Local Governance stated: “ As we have said for many years in different occasions, local governments carry out such activities that present each new development to the citizens and concretize the service in front of their eyes. In this regard, local governments have been the first exercise areas of democracy. Each new concept that have been tried on local governments are the models of the country government through visible or non visible means”.
City Councils For Stronger Local Governments
In the speech made by Gülay SARIŞEN, term president of Union of City Councils of Turkey, the relationship between City Councils and citizens were highlighted: “Fundamentally, City Councils correspond to a stronger governance paradigm for a stronger local government and a stronger local democracy. Our greatest wish is that the new governance concept takes root in all the local governments. Because otherwise we cannot speak of a modern local government, active citizen participation and consequently fellow citizenship, which is the strongest tie between the city and the citizen.”
After the opening session, Korel GÖYMEN, Academic Member of Sabancı University Arts and Social Sciences Faculty, who made the keynote speech titled “Practice of City Councils in Turkey Within the Context of Local Governance and Pluralistic Democracy” stated that the means of developing democracy passes through developing the democracy culture which points out the individual.
The first part of the workshop has been completed with the presentation of Murat AYDIN, Mayor of Zeytinburnu and President of UCLG-MEWA Committee on Local Governance, which conveys the experience of local governments in transparency.
Working Groups Evaluated Local Governance in Turkey
In the working groups that were formed of six groups by the participants, the issues on “Internal Functioning and Profiles of City Councils within the Framework of Local Governance” and “City Councils & Local Governments Working Manner within the Framework of Local Governance, Practices and Constraints” were discussed in two sessions.
In accordance with the reports obtained from the working groups, promotion of the representation of different opinions of the disadvantaged in the City Council with regards to the relative representation and developing practices on working on party-independent level, and financial arrangement along with various subjects were evaluated.
City Councils and Sustainable Development Goals
After the announcement of the final report to the participants, the program continued with the presentation on Localization of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, prepared by the UCLG MEWA team. Stressing upon the importance of the Localization of Sustainable Development Goals, UCLG-MEWA team discussed 17 items of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and what could be the role of local governments if those goals are to be achieved. The presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals that drew intense interest was finalized with interactive exchanges.