SEE Cities

Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Cities



The role of local governments has been evolving with increasing responsibilities and capacity gaps remain and need to be addressed. Local governments in South-East Europe (SEE) are particularly challenged by the status of decentralization, mismatch of revenue and expenditure management, absence of infrastructure investments, weak local institutions, weak mechanisms of social accountability, increased need to combat corruption, frequent shifts in political structures, and low speed of institutional reforms.

The World Bank –Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) was designed to strengthen capacities of local governments in South-East Europe (SEE), and to promote city to city exchange and peer learning within and beyond Europe. The Program aims to equip local elected officials, city administrators and technical staff with practical tools for decision-making, to effectively manage urban development for inclusive and sustainable growth

While global in scope, the Program is targeted at the Western Balkan countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

UPP Phase I (2011-2014): demand-led support of municipalities (municipal finance, urban planning and land management, urban governance/anti-corruption, and social accountability); analytical reports published to support decision making at the local to the national level (Municipal Finance Review in 2013, Municipal Finance: Handbook for Local Governments in 2014),

UPP Phase II (2015- 2018): scaling-up the use of self-assessment tools (reaching 80 cities/municipalities); creation of a knowledge base for benchmarking to achieve EU performance standards, particularly on fiscal decentralization and the topics mentioned above,

UPP Phase III (2018-2020): development of web-based applications (MFSA 2.0); focus on assessing further urban development needs, support of the implementation of action plans at the local to regional level; stronger collaboration with other World Bank projects; focus on specific cities while expanding the network; promotion of participatory processes such as Urban Lab and Placemaking and mainstreaming citizen engagement in decision making; strengthened the analytical component (Western Balkans and Croatia Urbanization and Territorial Review and the handbook for Local Governments: Better Cities, Better World: A Handbook on Local Government Self-Assessments, both to be published in 2019).


"The MFSA tool is very useful and can help LGs assess their financial performance and look for additional financing. On the other hand, it is a huge responsibility to translate the budget into strategies that will drive LG's development",
Reisa Duraj, Head of Finance and Treasure Relations Sector of the Shkoder Municipality, Albania

"This capacity building program will enhance knowledge and skills of local governments, particularly of medium and large cities."

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