The seventh UCLG-MEWA Congress, which is held every three years, was held on May 25-27, hosted by the Konya Metropolitan Municipality. With the Congress, the Organization’s Presidency, Governing Bodies, Committee Presidencies, Strategic Priorities, and Constitution were renewed. The Congress also hosted Decentralized Cooperation Training and two thematic panels on the environment and urban mobility.
The Congress process, which started with the Supervisory Board/Financial Management Committee held at the UCLG-MEWA General Secretariat on May 16, was completed with the Executive Bureau, General Assembly/Council Meeting, trainings, and panels held in Konya on May 25-27.
The opening of the Congress, where the UCLG-MEWA family came together with wide participation, was held in partnership with the AGRICITIES General Assembly and the Global Agriculture Forum. In his opening speech, Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, stated that three successful years have been left behind and that the international community needs more dialogue, stronger joint discourse, and more determined commitments in the coming period, and he referred to UCLG-MEWA’s slogan, “Revitalizing the Regional Synergy.” In his speech at the opening session, Mohamed Saadie, UCLG-MEWA President for the 2019-2022 period, talked about the importance of turning strategy and vision into action. Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General, and Carlos Martínez Mínguez, UCLG Governing President, attended the opening session online. While Saiz emphasized the importance of SDG localization efforts in her speech, Mínguez referred to the importance of the diplomatic capacity of the World Organization and emphasized that it is their responsibility to build a common future by uniting communities. The Mayor of Konya, who hosted the meeting, also emphasized participation and democracy in his opening speech.
The first session within the scope of the Congress was the last Executive Bureau of the 2019-2022 period. The activities, financial situation, and changes in membership since the Executive Bureau convened in Balıkesir in November last year were discussed in the Executive Bureau.
In the General Assembly session that took place afterward, both the past three years and the next three years of UCLG-MEWA were discussed and important decisions were reached. Following the submission of the activity and financial report for the 2019-2022 Period, a road map was drawn for the 2022-2025 Period. UCLG-MEWA has identified six new strategic priorities for the new period, namely: Migration Management, Environment and Climate Change, Decentralized Cooperation, Local Government Finance, Culture, Urban Health and Localization of Global Agendas.
The Union of Municipalities of Turkey (Turkey), the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (Palestine), Sarafand Municipality (Lebanon), Ministry of Local Administrations (Jordan), the Union of Turkish Municipalities of Cyprus (TRNC), the Asian Mayors Forum (Iran) and Arab Towns Organization (Kuwait), which served as the country representative of UCLG-MEWA in the previous period, were elected to the same task for this period.
At the Congress, UCLG-MEWA’s new Presidency, Governing Bodies, Committee Presidencies, and the names to be proposed to the governing bodies of the UCLG World Organization were also determined. Accordingly, Tayseer Abu Sneineh, Mayor of Hebron, from Palestine, was elected as the UCLG-MEWA President for the 2022-2025 Period. Tehran Municipality (Alireza Zekani, Mayor), Greater Amman Municipality (Yousef Shawarbeh, Mayor), Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality (Zeynel Abidin Beyazgül, Mayor), Trabzon Metropolitan Municipality (Murat Zorluoğlu, Mayor) and Jounieh Municipality (Juan Hobeiche, Mayor) will serve as Co-Presidents during this period. As in the previous period, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality (Mansur Yavaş, Mayor) is the ombudsman of the Organization in this period, while Mohamed Saadie (the Union of Municipalities of Dannieh), the immediate past president, was elected as the deputy ombudsman. While Kütahya Municipality (Alim Işık, Mayor) will serve as the Treasurer for the 2022-2025 period, Gölcük Municipality (Ali Yıldırım Sezer, Mayor), the treasurer of the previous period, will appear as the Deputy Treasurer. The Supervisory Board/Financial Management Committee will be chaired by Sultangazi Municipality (Abdurrahman Dursun), Safranbolu Municipality (Elif Köse, Mayor), Yalova Special Provincial Administration (Hasan Soygüzel, President of the General Assembly) and WALD (Emin Canacankatan, Accountant).
UCLG-MEWA, whose 33-member Executive Bureau and 99-member Council list has also been updated, also determined the candidates to be elected from the MEWA Region for the Executive Bureau and Council of the UCLG World Organization. In addition, the Presidency of the six thematic committees of UCLG-MEWA was updated. In this context, Tehran Municipality will be the President of the Committee on Smart Cities and Urban Mobility; Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality will be the President of the Committee on Environment; the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities will be the President of the Committee on City Diplomacy and Local Governance; Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality will be the President of the Committee on Culture and Tourism; the Union of Municipalities of Turkey will be the President of the Committee on Social Inclusion; Kyrenia Municipality will be the President of the Committee on Gender Equality.
In the General Assembly, updates regarding the membership fee system, personnel, and administrative structure were made in the Constitution and Bylaws. No decision has been made on the cities that will host the upcoming administrative meetings of UCLG-MEWA.
Training of Trainers and Thematic Panels
After the Executive Bureau, and the General Assembly, which were completed on May 25, Congress activities continued in Konya on May 26-27. The “Training of Trainers: Decentralized Cooperation Learning Module 4” event, which lasted for two days, was held by UCLG Learning and the UCLG-MEWA Committee on City Diplomacy and Local Governance. In Training, where participation from local governments, civil society, and the private sector took place, the questions of how to create decentralized cooperation policies, how to provide financing, and how to make cooperation sustainable were focused on.
On May 26, two panel sessions were held simultaneously with the Training. “Mobility at Territorial Scale: New Trends” panel was moderated by Feyzullah Gündoğdu, Head of Turkey at UITP, while Hasan Görgülü (Konya Metropolitan Municipality), Tolga İmamoğlu (WRI Turkey), Dr. Hamidreza Gholamzadeh (AMF), Luis Alegre Valls (the Metropolitan Transport Authority of Barcelona) and Mehmet Can Hallaç (Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality) took part as speakers in the event organized as a hybrid. In the panel, the participants discussed informal transportation modes in the MEWA Region within the scope of sustainable transportation as well as new trends for cities to provide transportation on a territorial scale.
“Green Finance: Innovative Opportunities for Local Governments” panel was moderated by Sahba Sobhani, Director of UNDP IICPSD; Dr. Ahmet Albayrak (Kuveyt Türk Participation Bank), Şule Kılıç (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), Mustafa Akdemir (Konya Metropolitan Municipality), Şevket Altuğ Taşdemir (ILBANK) and Ahmet Ayıcı (Turkey Real Estate Bank). In the panel, the issue of from which institutions local governments, especially those who want to produce policies for adaptation to the climate crisis or to deepen their existing practices, can obtain the financing they may need was discussed.