UCLG-MEWA Retreat was held on 26-27 February 2019, in Istanbul, with the participation of UCLG-MEWA Presidency, UCLG-MEWA Committee Presidents and strategic partners. The meeting which built on the strong institutional structure; came forward with emphasize on being “inclusive, informative and interactive.” In the two-day event; ”UCLG-MEWA Strategic Plan towards 2020,” Partnerships for Regional Development, “Notes from Global Agenda: UCLG Retreat & Policy Forum on Development” and “UCLG-MEWA Strategic Priorities” sessions were held. At the same time, the UCLG World Organization’s Learning Platform shared UCLG World Organization’s strategy for localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Before the opening session, a closed session was held on 26 February 2019 with the participation of UCLG-MEWA Presidency and Committees’ Presidents. Arch. Dr. Kadir Topbaş, UCLG-MEWA Founding President and UCLG President for the terms 2010-2013 and 2013-2016, attended to this session as a honorary guest. In the session participants discussed issues related to the organizational structure and operation of UCLG-MEWA towards 2019. In the meeting, Arch. Dr. Kadir Topbaş, gave information and shared his experiences within the organization and also he assessed the point at which local governments came before the UN.
Dr.Topbaş also stated the importance of activities conducted in a more active and efficient way for local governments, non-politicized non-governmental organizations such as UCLG-MEWA. In his speech, he also stated that good relations were established with UN during his Presidency of UCLG World Organization. Topbaş also expressed that they established a ground for UCLG to be recognized by the UN.
In 2019, Institutional Visibility Will Increase
The opening session of the meeting started with the speech of Mehmet Duman, UCLG-MEWA Secretary General. Duman, Secretary General stated that the meeting will contribute to the institutional development of UCLG-MEWA and the strengthening of the partnerships. After that, Mohamed Saadie, UCLG-MEWA Co-President, in his opening speech, pointed out that UCLG-MEWA has established significant cooperations not only in the Middle East and West Asia Region but also in different geographies. Saadie, Co-President also said that, for achieving institutional goals, it is important to think and take steps together.
In the session titled ”UCLG-MEWA Strategic Plan towards 2020” the activities carried out in 2018 were evaluated and discussions were held on the planned activities which will be carried out in 2019. In the 2019 working plan; project on the mapping the SDGs came to the forefront as the Pilot Project which is going to be carried out not only in Turkey but also in different countries of MEWA Region. Discussions on how to increase institutional visibility were among the other agendas. “Inspired Voices”, the short documentary filmed by UCLG-MEWA, about the stories of successful refugee women, was also shown in this session for the first time.
In the one of the other session of the Retreat, called “Partnerships for Regional Development”, 2018 evaluations of the stakeholders of UCLG-MEWA were received. Stakeholders also expressed their plans for 2019 and the works they can do with UCLG-MEWA. The session was conducted in an interactive format with the participation of representatives from local government associations such Arab Towns Organization, Union of Municipalities of Turkey and the Union of Turkish World Municipalities.
In the session on the “Notes from Global Agenda: UCLG Retreat & Policy Forum on Development” , a series of discussions were held with the aim of moving the ideas of the participants to global platforms. In the session, the outputs of the UCLG Retreat were shared and recommendations were received for the 7th Global Meeting of the Development Policy Forum, which will be held in March.
On the second of the meeting, sessions started with the presentations of the program of activities of the following strategic priorities
- Local Development & Governance
- Fighting Against & Adapting to Climate Change
- Migration & Social Cohesion
- Urban Resilience
The last session was completed with the presentation of Raphael Sedlitzky, UCLG Learning Representative. In this regard; the methodology and different learning methods which are used as solutions of the problems, faced by cities and regions, were shared with the participants. The participants were also informed by Sedlitzky about the module that they developed for localizing the SDGs.