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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: 3324
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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Workshops

Nis, Serbia, June 21-22 2018

Under the Urban Partnership Program, a first workshop on the topic of participatory planning/placemaking was held on June 21-22, 2018 in Niš for Serbia’s three largest cities Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš. Participants, mainly urban planners, architects, local economic development officers, young professionals/academics and Civil Society Organizations, including representatives from the local government association of Serbia and the Ministry of Construction, Infrastructure and Transport, joined together to learn about the potentials of placemaking, tactical urbanism, and people centered/participatory urban planning tools and techniques. The workshop was designed and delivered in collaboration with Roland Krebs and Kerstin Pluch, urban planners/academics from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria and superwien.

The workshop introduced the methodology of placemaking as a useful planning technique for activating public and central open spaces. Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. It is a creative platform to engage different stakeholders into the planning processes, gather ideas and involve citizens and local businesses in the collective development of urban projects.

The Serbian cities of Novi Sad, Belgrade and Niš all have rivers that dominate the urban landscape of these central areas. However, the public spaces around these rivers are not properly articulated in the urban fabric and have a huge potential that can be activated by the municipalities through a collaborative planning approach. The cities expressed great interest in developing the rivers and making more use of these public spaces, especially for walking, cycling, recreational activities and, in general, spending more free time in different spaces around river fronts.

On the first day of the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to hear about the planning process - the background, history, future, techniques, and to go through a casestudy of the city of Niš as a basis for the walk-on sessions that followed. During the working sessions, the participants were ready to put into action the principles of the Placemaking methodology and with the Walkshop mapping they identified the potentials and problems of the Nišava riverfront. During the second part of the day participants learned more about Urban Design lab and its tool-box, as well as different success stories from Vienna, Skopje, and cities from Latin America. In continuation of the case study, the participants developed a comprehensive SWOT analysis and engaged in Emotional mapping. An extensive list of opportunities and potential areas of development was created, as well as a very thorough Social cartography illustration of perception, with a detailed map of possible intervention areas.

During day two of the workshop, participants were introduced to several more interesting case studies and had the opportunity to continue with applying additional techniques to their case study. The integral scenario working session focused on using all the data gathered during day one and putting it into a vision for the Nišava riverfront. Lastly, the Role play session produced possible insights in potential stakeholders’ perspectives on different activation scenarios. It was very helpful and interesting to see how different stakeholders like students, retirees, small and large business owners, women and local architects may react to different outcomes and ideas for the riverfront space activation.

The workshop in Niš generated great interest and a demand for follow-ups from all three cities. The most useful and easily applicable parts for the participants were collective brainstorming and dialogue between different cities, idea and suggestion sharing among participants and innovative approaches. Concrete ideas were created during workshop such as development of an urban plan for removing the car market from the city center, solutions for urban mobility, and a more inclusive approach to urban planning. This is why UPP plans to continue with follow up workshops in Novi Sad and Belgrade that will not only focus on other cities and create further exchange, but will also bring into action additional placemaking concepts and techniques and participatory planning methods, and be more practical in form and focus on river activation and design, as well as implementation.


Documents:
Agenda Placemaking Workshop Nis, June 2018.doc
Urban Design Lab Handbook.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis_Summary Report.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nisava workshop SymbioCity Living Nis.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis_Presentation_Nisava workshop.pdf


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