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Regional Conference “Cities with Integrity”, World Bank - Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP)

Categories: Events, Regional Conferences | Author: ihasanagic@worldbank.org | Posted: 3/7/2017 | Views: 7362
Belgrade, Serbia: January 29-31, 2017

The two-day Regional Integrity Symposium was held January 29 - January 31, 2017 in the City of Belgrade to culminate the process of strengthening integrity of local governments in South-East Europe (SEE). Integrity of public institutions requires accountability, competence and ethical behavior of leaders who act as reformers and build trust among stakeholders. The participatory process aims to support the trust building and monitoring of the system improvements and leadership behavior inside the local government institutions.

Main objectives of the Regional Integrity Symposium were to discuss how the process helped in building common ground for further work and fostering informal as well as cross-departmental cooperation between participants from different local governments, discuss the challenges that local governments are facing in the areas of governance and leadership, and present other innovative tools used by the UPP as well as other good practices from the Region and beyond.

The event gathered around 80 representatives from seven Western Balkan countries from central and local governments, including Mayors and City managers, municipal staff from different departments, representatives of central government agencies, national associations of local governments from SEE, and civil society organizations, to discuss findings and progress made in carrying out the Integrity Building initiative. Participants had a chance to exchange with their peers and counterparts from other cities and countries, as well as to share experiences and knowledge on integrity building activities and activities for curbing corruption in local self-governments in the region.

Mr. Djordje Stanicic, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, welcomed all participants on behalf of SCTM. In his address, he stressed the efforts of the SCTM to raise the awareness of the importance of ethical standards for public officials and staff working in local self-government units, as well as the importance of introducing and improving good management practices at local government level. He said it was essential for all stakeholders, including the national authorities, Local Government Units, independent institutions and civil society organizations to actively use their work to strengthen the integrity of institutions as it is the path to increasing public trust and confidence in the public sector. 

Representative of the Austrian government, Deputy Head of the Mission, Ms. Sabine Kroissenbrunner stressed the importance of the governance/integrity building topic for the EU accession as well as the importance of regional collaboration as one of the most important features of the Program.  She emphasized the need to install trust in public institutions and nurture inclusive societies.

Keynote and honorary guest speaker, Mr. Ronald MacLean-Abaroa, Former four-term Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, spoke about the measurement of corruption focusing on results. Being corruption just a symphtom, it must be measured by its impact on effectiveness and efficiency of the goods/service provided, and its improvement once anti-corruption actions are taken. These results can be objectively measured, while corruption itself eludes a direct measurement other than perceptions.  He stressed that “results are not just the absence of corruption, but increased effectiveness and efficiency in collecting taxes, raising revenues, and providing more and better services by the municipality, or through outsourcing or PPPs.”  He reminded participants that indirect measures of service delivery are visible in increased revenues as well as citizens' satisfaction.  “Transparency is thus a necessary, not sufficient condition to kill corruption” Mr. MacLean-Abaroa concluded. His presentation was further illustrated by Ms. Ana Vasilache’s presentation on the anti-corruption methodology based on structural institutional reform, instead of the persecution of corrupt individuals.

Further the good examples from cities of Pancevo, Elbasan and Krizevci were shared, and participants had a chance to learn more about experiences from beyond the seven countries, such as from Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, and countries like Georgia and Romania.

Few of the stories included: 
City of Krizevci, Croatia: Process was successful because (i) many different stakeholders were involved; (ii) all of the strategies and plans were made in synergy with the existing ones, which made them sustainable. This methodology that was later applied to other processes, actually resulted in the City of Krizevci acquiring quality management certificate.

Gazi Baba, Macedonia: Being part of the program helped identify three main areas for improvement in processes: public procurement, employment and transparency. Most important achievements: (i) the manual for preparing tender documentation was created as the result of this process; (ii) annual training and employment plan and organized training for employees; (iii) all of the procedures and plans were published and linked to relevant base (National public procurement registry).

Mayor of Kolasin, Montenegro Ms. Zeljka Vuksanovic, shared that the first thing she had to do as a Mayor was to gain trust of the citizens by being transparent about the situation the municipality was facing at the time and by obeying the laws. Most important achievements: through this process, the municipality of Kolasin has rationalized spending and raised efficiency of its staff.

As part of group discussions of Day 2 participants came up with the joint definition of a vision of the cities with integrity: “Cities with integrity are cities where satisfied citizens enjoy improved service delivery, can use e-governance and digitalization to its full purpose; where transparency, ethical behavior and unified procedures minimize corruptive activities and fully functional legal framework brings about higher trust of investors”.

UPP will continue with the Regional collaboration and exchange as this proved to be successful way of fostering informal cooperation between participants from different local governments, sharing the experiences of local governments in the areas of governance and leadership and presenting collaboration between different innovative tools used by the UPP as well as other good practices from the Region and beyond.

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City-to-City

Skopje, April 10-12, 2019.

World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) held its ninth City to City dialogue and technical workshops organized in collaboration with our regional partner NALAS (Network of Local Government Associations in South East Europe) and the City of Skopje, supported by the Swiss SDC and GIZ. The event took place in Skopje, North Macedonia and hosted over 130 participants from South-East Europe countries and beyond, with central and local government officials and technical practitioners from finance, urban and economic development departments, City Leaders, Local Government Associations, the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe, EC representatives and many other development partners and key stakeholders from the region and beyond.

The underlying theme of the Dialogue - Cities as Drivers of Economic Growth, focused on sustainable local economic development, including local finance, urban planning, accountability, and public participation in improving service delivery to citizens.  The event served as a chance to validate the progress of the WB-Austria Urban Partnership Program and the process of city's self-assessment with SEE participants. The Conference also showcased good practices in city management from Ljubljana, Slovenia and Tirana, Albania, and from other cities in SEE and wider Europe.
The first day of this event included technical sessions on municipal finance, urban planning and land development, urban audit, action planning and implementation, borrowing and creditworthiness and lessons learned from World Bank projects, while the second day conference explored the role of the cities and municipalities in the economic development agenda, enhancements to benefit the citizens of South-East Europe and cities’ learning from best practices.

During the Day 1 opening two sessions, several important topics and questions were raised: where do municipalities stand in terms of local governments finances, planning, land and investments programming and where do they need to go as well as what are the main local level advantages, challenges and opportunities. UPP local experts shared experiences from the test-piloting of MFSA 2.0 online version as well as experiences Urban Audit (UA) implementation. Local experts together with several municipal representatives from Kisela Voda, Bar, Gostivar and Gjirokastër shared their views and suggestions on operation and utilization of the online MFSA tool. Following the general presentation of the improved UA framework, the municipalities of Elbasan, Gostivar and Prilep presented their experiences with the UA tool. They stressed that citizens’ engagement in the decision making by focusing on transparency, accountability and participation in MFSA&UA is highly important.

Participants learned that UPP has high representation in SEE - working and having worked with more than 90 municipalities in the region, including 6 capital cities. That means UPP cities represent an impressive 9% of the regional territory and 22.5% of the regional population. The final conclusion was that to move forward, UPP will need to focus more on support to the CIP and implementation of the Action Plans, including dominant action on revenue collection and budget planning and execution, substantial for expenditure control, internal audits, and transparency improvement.

Throughout the day, participants could hear about ongoing studies and technical assistance programs related to municipal finances in the Western Balkans, as well as several panel discussions showcasing the results and experience of action plan implementation based on the MFSA results and the use of MFSA as a tool to facilitate creditworthiness and borrowing capacity for Local Authorities.

The city of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Hercegovina presented their alignment of MFSA action plan implementation with the strategic documents. The existing MFSA action plan had two goals: (i) financial status improvement and (ii) management. City of Rijeka, Croatia, explained how based on the MFSA results, they recognized the main challenges such as the city's weaknesses in planning due to large deviations from the budget plan's execution by more than 10% (the action plan reduced it to 3%). City of Subotica, Serbia explained that MFSA provided the opportunity to determine the financial position and to plan the finance management reform. The City adopted the Financial Management Plan 2016-2020 and set up the expected results for that period. The city administration defined 7 implementation measures: improvement in capital projects planning, budget planning, revenue collection, and improvement of commitments control and cash management control, increase in debt management capacity, improvement of PIFC and implementation and further development of the internal control and audit function.
Key recommendations from the discussion were to ensure the close co-operation with the central government regarding the introduction of property tax (Rijeka), better co-operation with the state in the preparation and planning of local budget guidelines (Subotica) and the need for greater degree of consistency in city management (Banja Luka).

The Day 1 last session of the workshop was dedicated to sharing experiences on creditworthiness and borrowing capacity. Marjan Nikolov, the UPP local expert explained the three main questions mayors should put about their borrowing capacity: Are we creditworthy? How much can we borrow? How much can we invest in the next 5 years? He argued that the order of these questions is an important indicator on how visionary and goal-oriented a Mayor is. Thus, the MFSA can serve as a helpful tool for the credit rating of LGU-s. Anto Bajo, the UPP local expert, shared that in Croatia no consensus exists on the best methodology and the set of indicators (input variables) to be used for credit risk assessment and that no local units bankruptcy instrument exists, which renders the standard credit risk assessment based on historical behavior of local governments, impossible. Following the discussion, Sasho Trajkov from Gazi Baba Municipality stressed the importance of LGU’s economic growth in the process. The situation in the Municipality of Gazi Baba shows that a well-designed and participatory Urban Audit helped the local economy grow, accordingly increasing the tax base and fiscal income. Marjan Junčaj, from City of Podgorica, shared the experience of the capital city of Montenegro in establishing a local level credit reliability model. He argued that borrowing capacities can be developed through different national and local level scenario analysis.
A final remark by Ms. Farvacque-Vitkovic, stated that along with developing capacities to borrow, LGU’s main focus should be ‘why borrow’. In the end, the discussion on creditworthiness is only relevant, if used as means to a higher end- that of making cities more livable and local economies more sustainable.

Participants could also attend the launch of Better Cities, Better World: A Handbook on Local Government Self-Assessments by Catherine Farvacque-Vitkovic and Mihaly Kopanyi, who are World Bank’s leading senior experts on urban development and municipal finance with extensive working experience in more than 30 countries. Ms. Farvacque-Vitkovic explained that this handbook focuses on key urban issues and helps city leaders and municipal staff to address issues through a solutions package. It provides inspirational ideas and clear-cut methodology for starting and guiding the process and for municipal staff capacity building.

 

 

The second day of the conference focused more on the political level discussions and panels, with opening speeches by ministers, mayors and EC representatives. The Mayor of Skopje and newly appointed NALAS President, Mr. Petre Shielgov, opened the conference, followed by speeches by Mr.Suhejl Fazliu, North Macedonia’s Local Government Minister, Mr. Zoran Sapuric, North Macedonia’s Minister tasked with Regulations for Improvement of the Investment Climate for Domestic Companies, Mr. Andrej Zernovski, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Mr. Amer Kapetanovic, RCC Head of Political Department. Last, but not least, the audience could hear a video message from Mr. Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

Panels presented ongoing regional studies including Western Balkans Urbanization and Territorial Review (WBUTR), financed by the UPP. The WBUTR is a comprehensive analysis of the urban sector in the Region, aiming to inform and support development of integrating urban strategies that increase the impact of sector specific initiatives and enhance the sustainability of urban development (i.e. by fostering regional cooperation, competitiveness, connectivity and economic development). It analyzes urban systems, the economic geography and probable EU accession related development. It also provides actionable recommendations for a faster and more inclusive growth through enhancing competitiveness of leading cities and ensuring national and local access to opportunities in the peripheral and lagging regions. The WBUTR will be published in the Summer 2019.
The highlight of the day was the inspirational story by the Honorable Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana, who spoke of “Cities that should serve the people not the cars” while referring to his great efforts to make Tirana a greener city.

Furthermore, four workshops were organized within the Conference, on the following topics:

1. Smart Cities. Digitalization for LED – during this session, Ms. Jeton Puka from the municipality of Vlorë presented their smart cities experience and chosen strategies and directions 
2. Innovative Strategies and Tools for Planning and Creating Sustainable Cities - TOD and Placemaking => The main objective of the panel was oriented to planning and managing cities for a sustainable development.
3. Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) and Sustainable Energy and Climate Planning (SECAP) - drivers of development and sustainable growth
4. Citizen to Engage in Cities – session presented good practice examples which clearly demonstrated recurring citizen’s participation when they receive feedback and when citizen’s ideas are attended to

The closing remarks of the Conference City to City Dialogue: “Cities as Drivers of Economic Growth – Vision 2030”, were made by Mr.Petre Shilegov and H.E. Mr. Wojciech Jerzy Tyciński, the Ambassador of Poland in North Macedonia.

Cities and municipalities valued the opportunity to participate in another City to City Dialogue which proved to be a successful attempt to summon the Region on a table to discuss achievements, different topics of interest and pressing issues.

PHOTO GALLERY


Documents:


DAY 1

Action Planning Rijeka, Banja Luka and Subotica.pdf
Fiscal Capacity Of MGB - S. Trajkov.pdf
Introduction to MFSA Toolkit.pdf
LGSA Handbook.pdf
Local Government Finances, Planning, Land and Investments Programming in SEE - C. Farvacque - Vitkovic.pdf
MFSA and LSG Creditworthiness, Borrowing and Investment Capacity.pdf
Municipal Finance ofWestern Balkans in the context of decentralization.pdf
Municipal Services Improvement Project - Lessons Learned.pdf
Ocjena kreditne sposobnosti - Anto Bajo.pdf
Transparency, Accountability and Participation in MFSA and UA - Sandra Kdolsky.pdf
UPP results survey C2C Dialogues.pdf
Urban Audit framework - Challenges and Results in the Municipality of Elbasan - E. Kenuti.pdf


DAY 2

Parallel Sessions
Parallel sessions - CONCLUSIONS.pdf

Smart Cities - Digitalisation for LED
Rijeka - Smart City.pdf
Smart Cities - Jeton Puka.pdf
Skopje Smart City Strategy - Ognen Marina.pdf

Innovative Strategies and Tools for Planning and Creating Sustainable Cities - TOD and Placemaking
ToD for Sustainable Belgrade Planning 2019 - Skopje.pdf
Sustainable cities Ljubljana – Urban space and sustainable mobility change - Vladimir Babic.pdf
C2C - 100 Villages - Albania.pdf
Sustainable Cities - 100 Villages - Albania - Fiona Mali.pdf
Placemaking-Sarajevo - Zina Ruzdic.pdf

Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) and Sustainable Energy and Climate Planning (SECAP)
GIZ ORF-EE - Dubravka Bosnjak.pdf
Krusevac SUMP - Jelena Brkovic.pdf
Banja Luka - Jelena Pavlovic.pdf
SCTM presentation - Klara Danilovic.pdf
SECAP Prijedor - Boris Srdic.pdf

Citizen to Engage in Cities
C2C Dialogue Session 12 Parallel Session on CE April 11 - Intro.pdf
C2C Dialogue Session 12 Parallel Session on CE April 11 - Transparency in Croatia - Dario Runtic.pdf
C2C Dialogue Session 12 Parallel Session on CE April 11 - Migration and Local Dev - Alexei Gafeli.pdf
C2C Dialogue Session 12 Parallel Session on CE April 11 - Communtity Forums Model - Gorjan Slavkovski.pdf

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