SKOPJE, November 03, 2015 - The second phase of the World Bank – Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) in Macedonia was launched today during the workshop organized by the World Bank and the local partner institutions from Macedonia in the premises of the City of Skopje. The program aims to strengthen local government capacity in South East Europe, and 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, this program is targeted at South East Europe, including FYR Macedonia.
The first phase of the program (2011-2014) focused on key dimensions of local government, including municipal finance, urban planning and land management, urban governance/ anti-corruption, and social accountability. The second phase of the program (UPP II) was officially launched in February 2015 and aims to further strengthen synergies among the different components within the Program and with other programs active in the South East Europe region.
The national workshop for municipal decision makers – mayors, deputy mayors and other local government officials, as well as NGO representatives – was the opportunity to introduce innovative and practical tools such as Municipal Finance Self-Assessment, Urban Audit, Integrity Building/Anti-corruption, and Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement initiative.
So far, various components of thepProgram have been implemented in a number of FYR Macedonia’s municipalities, including Gazi Baba (Skopje), Strumica, Gostivar, Vinica and the City of Skopje. More municipalities have expressed their interest to engage.
"The Anti-corruption Strategic Planning, as part of the World Bank Urban Partnership Program, helped my municipality better understand the importance of having a proactive approach in integrity building on local level; it helped us understand how we can improve our internal system of organization, communication and cooperation, so as to make our municipality more accountable, transparent and citizen oriented", said Mr. Emil Doncev, Mayor of Vinica.
According to the Mayor of Gostivar, Mr. Nevzat Bejta, "The Urban Partnership Program, in particular its components on Anti-corruption Strategic Planning, Municipal Finance Self-Assessment and Urban Audit helped Gostivar strengthen its capacities for better internal organization, improved service delivery and increased citizen engagement."
The program components are complementary in nature, enabling municipalities to improve their efficiency in a holistic way: municipal finance, urban planning and investment programming, integrity building, social sustainability and citizen engagement – all with the same goal of strengthening transparency, accountability and integrity in public service, and increasing citizens’ trust. Furthermore, the City of Skopje has demonstrated interest in further improving social sustainability based on the Action Plan designed during the first phase of the Program (UPP I).
“This national workshop represents a formidable occasion for municipal decision makers to learn about practical tools and approaches offered by the program”, said Sabine Palmreuther, Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank and Task Team Leader of the Program. “Municipalities will be invited to participate in the Phase II of the program”.