UCLG-MEWA virtually convened its Executive Bureau and Council on October 22, 2020 due to COVID-19. Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, who also moderated the Executive Bureau and Council sessions, stated in his opening speech that they had to hold these meetings online since the current conditions were not suitable for face-to-face meetings.
UCLG-MEWA President and Co-Presidents made their opening speeches before the Executive Bureau. Mohamed Saadie, UCLG-MEWA President, underlined that we need to overcome this difficult process with the least damage possible through unity, solidarity, and experience sharing. Zeydan Karalar, Mayor of Adana (Turkey) and UCLG-MEWA Co-President, emphasized that the world economy had been revived with the growth of production and service sectors; however, at the same time, it had also been hit by the pandemic. He further underlined that we need to get help from science in order to overcome this trauma as soon as possible. Zoheir Sabaghpour Azarian, UCLG-MEWA Co-President, attended the meeting on behalf of Tehran Municipality, and pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic, apart from causing damage and destruction for humanity, is also a lesson learned, and drew attention to the importance of global solidarity. Abdullah Anati, UCLG-MEWA Co-President and representative of the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities, stated that the roles of all cities across the world was very important in the fight against the COVID-19, and with the experience they had gained during this process, it was necessary to be prepared for the post COVID-19 period. Finally, Yücel Yılmaz, Mayor of Balıkesir and UCLG-MEWA Co-President, emphasized that problems such as COVID-19, earthquakes, disasters and floods are problems shared by all humanity and that these problems can only be solved through global cooperation and knowledge sharing at the international level.
After the President and Co-Presidents, Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General, greeted the participants. Saiz pointed out that there are important issues specific to the MEWA Region, however these issues are similar in some respects to the matters of rest of the world. He stated that the pandemic affected not only health and economy, but also many other areas of life, therefore services in these areas should be provided in the recovery process. Saiz said that governments generally ignore local governments, and UCLG draws attention to this issue. She concluded by underlining that good practices around the world should be shared.
After the approval of the agenda of meeting, the Activity Report covering the period between 12 March and 21 October 2020 and the Activity Program of 2021 were presented to the Executive Bureau. Then, the Supervisory Board / Financial Management Committee Report was presented by Rasim Arı, Mayor of Nevşehir and UCLG-MEWA Treasurer. Ramazan Kabasakal gave information about the ombudsman activities in 2020 on behalf of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. Amendments to be made in the Bylaws were also submitted for the approval of the Executive Bureau. Following that, in order to determine the host cities of UCLG-MEWA Governing Bodies in 2021, council members were consulted with, and it was decided that Gebze Municipality (Istanbul, Turkey) will host the 2021 April/May meeting and Adana Metropolitan Municipality will host the 2021 October/November meeting. The meeting ended with the other issues being discussed and accepted.