The Mayors Symposium “Transformational Leadership in South-East Europe” held on February 10-12, 2014 in Vienna was organized as a part of the World Bank – Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) in cooperation with the City of Vienna and the Austrian Ministry of Finance. It targets cities in Southeastern Europe, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
The program focuses on the sustainable development of cities, with particular emphasis on making municipal governments more transparent and accountable, improving their performance over the long term, and forging coalitions for change. It was created in response to the need expressed by Southeast European cities for inter-city exchange within Europe and beyond. UPP has built on the recent political stability and peace in the Balkans and fostered a multi-stakeholder dialogue among cities that were once alienated as a result of conflict.
More than 100 people from the central and local governments of seven Southeast European countries gathered in Vienna at the City Hall for the Symposium. This group included more than 20 mayors and city leaders, a number of municipal finance and urban planning practitioners, local government associations, civil society leaders, and other partners and clients.
The Conference was opened on February 10 by the Vice Mayor of Vienna, Maria Vassilakou; Harald Waiglein, Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance; and Ellen Goldstein, Country Director, Southeastern Europe, World Bank Group. The symposium showcased the themes of municipal finance, urban planning and land management, urban governance and anti-corruption, and social accountability in the service of citizens.
City leaders took part in UPP to send a strong signal that corruption was not the status quo, to highlight the problems of accountability in local government, and to inspire others. The Symposium was an opportunity for these governments and their partners to share advances in their reform agendas with their counterparts in the region and beyond, highlight examples of inclusive urban development in Southeastern Europe, and feature good practices in city leadership.
A number of new knowledge products were shared at the Symposium. One piece of note is Improving Local Governments Capacity: The Experience of Municipal Finances Self-Assessment in Southeast Europe, which contains two-page data profiles on 13 Southeast European cities from Bar to Tirana and a step-by-step user guide on how to conduct a financial self-assessment. The data profiles provide an overview of the city, its financial situation, a historical analysis of revenues and expenditures, a ratio analysis, financial projections and a muni finance improvement plan. Two other knowledge products, Collective Engagement for Results in South-East Europe and Curbing Corruption and Modernizing Local Governments in South-East Europe were also released at the Symposium.
Following the symposium, city leaders have expressed an interest in scaling up, a desire to embed some of the tools in municipal management practices, and an appetite to continue the journey and conversation.