UCLG-MEWA Extraordinary General Assembly took place in Şanlıurfa on November 22-23, 2023, hosted by Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality.
The opening ceremony of the program was held on the first day of the event. Dr. Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General, first addressed the participants in the opening ceremony. In his speech, Duman drew attention to the humanitarian crises in the region: “As the closest governing body to the people, we, together with our deep-rooted heritage, should strive to carry our cities to a stronger future with the data we possess.”
Subsequently, Yahya Sarraj, Mayor of Gaza addressed the dimensions of the humanitarian crisis in Palestine in the framework of LRGs through a video message. Then, Murat Şenkul, Mayor of Girne and UCLG-MEWA Co-President, said that humanity should take action as soon as possible due to the situation in Gaza.
Zeynel Abidin Beyazgül, Mayor of Şanlıurfa and UCLG-MEWA Co-President, spoke about the importance of sustainable development and strengthening cooperation and referred to local climate action in the following words: “Climate change is one of the challenges our region is exposed to. We need to take action on this issue as LRGs. The challenges we face oblige us to share experiences.”
Uğur İbrahim Altay, Mayor of Konya, who became President of UCLG at the UCLG World Council held in Konya on October 26-28, 2023, discussed the current situation in the MEWA region and stated that they are working earnestly to ensure peace. Tayseer Abu Sneineh, Mayor of Al-Khalil and UCLG-MEWA President, joined the meeting online. In his speech, Abu Sneineh touched upon the developments in the West Bank, Palestine and the reflection of the current situation on LRGs. The last speech in the opening ceremony was delivered by Hasan Şıldak, the Governor of Şanlıurfa, who welcomed all participants and wished them a successful meeting. The opening segment came to an end after taking a family photo with all members of the General Assembly.
After the Opening Ceremony, the session on Accelerating the Local Development with Global Agendas started under the moderation of Dr. Hayri Baraçlı, Secretary General of the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye (UMT) and Member of the Local Government Policies Board of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye. The speakers in the session included Zeynel Abidin Beyazgül, Mayor of Şanlıurfa, Hasan Kılca, Mayor of Karatay, Mohammad Maaitah, Mayor of Karak, and Louisa Vinton, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative in Türkiye, as well as Nabil Ahmed Alkofahi, Mayor of Irbid, and Abdul Kareem Zubaidi, Mayor of Salfeet and the President of the Association of Palestinian Local Authority (APLA), who participated in the session virtually. The Session framed around climate change adaptation, inclusive urban development, local governance and policy issues.
Following the High-Level Dialogue Session, UCLG-MEWA Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting was held. In addition to deliberating upon administrative mattes, the General Assembly formalized its proceedings by ratifying a declaration addressing the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.
The second day of the Program started with the session Toward COP28: Leaders’ Discussion on a More Resilient and Greener Urban Future, moderated by Reem Abusamra, UCLG-MEWA Senior Research Officer. Hamzeh Zghoul, Mayor of Ajloun, Ahmet Pekyatırmacı, Mayor of Selçuklu, Abdurrahman Dursun, Mayor of Sultangazi, Jamal Al Waked Al Faouri, Mayor of Ein Al Basha, Mahmut Özçınar, Mayor of Güzelyurt and President of the Union of Turkish Cypriot Municipalities were the panelists in the session. The mayors shared with the participants examples of good practices and innovative initiatives regarding green transformation and climate change work in their cities.
Furthermore, in the Info Day session held by KAVŞAK Network, deliberations centered on the initiatives of the SUTN project. In this context, UCLG-MEWA made a presentation, providing comprehensive insights into its substantive contributions to the project. Subsequently, a workshop was convened to address transportation challenges in the Southeastern Anatolia Region
Simultaneously, the 5th session of WALD E-Parliament International Youth took place, with a specific emphasis on SDG 11 and SDG 13. A diverse group of young participants engaged actively in the session moderated by Dr. Mehmet Duman.
As the culminating segment of the program, Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality organized urban visits for the participants. Consequently, the UCLG-MEWA Extraordinary General Assembly concluded with substantial engagement from its members and stakeholders.