On October 25-26, 2018, in Vlore, Albania, the Urban Partnership Program in collaboration with theMunicipality of Vlore welcomed around 40 participants from Albanian and Macedonian cities and municipalities, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Finance from both countries and from the Albanian Association of Municipalities (AAM), to share experiences, challenges, and best practices with their peers, in a trusting and familiar context.
The UPP has been fostering financial management and sustainable urban development, as well as supporting capacity building with a network of local experts in the region, through the Municipal Finance Self-Assessment, the Urban Audit and related tools. In the latest UPP survey, 67% of respondents said that the MFSA helped to improve the financial management of municipalities and 82% that the UPP improved the delivery and quality of municipal services to citizens. The success of the program that has involved more than 80 municipalities and 500 practitioners and decision makers is mainly due to regular interactive workshops and events where experts have the opportunity to exchange best practices and discuss solutions to main issues of local finance and development with their peers from neighboring countries and beyond.
The main focus of the workshop was the presentation of the new MFSA V2.0 application to participants after the testing phase and before its official launch. As most of them have already worked on the previous version of the MFSA, presenting the new configuration of the web-based platform, how it operates and what are the benefits for the municipalities using the tool, was greatly appreciated. Participants were given a chance to test the MFSA V2.0 together with local experts and tried to identify aspects that could be improved. The received feedback, comments and recommendations for further improvement of this tool were collected and will be presented during the City to City Dialogue. The MFSA V2.0 application is currently being tested with users, revised and customized, and it will soon befully released and disseminated.
Workshop participants were welcomed both by Honorable Dritan Leli, the Mayor of Vlore, as well as Mr. Rama, Deputy Mayor of Vlore. Mr. Leli pointed out how important and positive the cooperation with the World Bank has been for the city, and highlighted the essential role played by these types of technical workshops in improving urban development while Mr. Rama, outlined in his keynote address the most important economic growth priorities for the municipality, which included tourism, infrastructure improvement and PPPs. During the first day, participants had a chance to exchange experiences on common topics such as financial management and integrated urban development, financing capital investment projects and furthering citizen participation and transparency for project selection processes. The workshop was also used as a platform to discuss further integration between the MFSA and UA; e.g. what data/information can be used from MFSA as input to UA and vice versa. Urban Planning experts outlined how the UA evolved from identifying territorial and service deficiencies and needs, to fostering international partnerships and regional networking for LED. This was shown through two best practice examples shared by Municipality of Kucove, Albania, and Municipality of Gazi Baba, Macedonia.
At the end of the first day, participants had the opportunity to hear about the Urban Lab Participatory approach implemented in Ksamil, Saranda in Albania under UPP. Professor Markus Tomaselli, from the University of Technology in Vienna (TU Wien), explained how undertaking the lab and conducting workshops/surveys/questioners with different constituents of Ksamil, a town that highly depends on tourism with its population increasing tenfold during the summer period, brought to light several new, but very important topics and issues to be addressed.
The site visits and field trips to Zvernec provided clear insight into infrastructure development and challenges linked to the local economy. Road investment, sewage treatment plant, Petrolifera, gas power plant are among the most important infrastructural projects for Vlore which will allow better living conditions, but also allow increase in attractiveness to tourists and visitors. As a highlight, participants visited lagoon of Narta and island and monastery of Zvernec as they represent important cultural touristic attractions in the area.
The second day of the workshop was opened by Professor Dr. Arben Malaj, Honorary Consul of Austria to Vlore who stated how these kinds of workshops are symbols of the need to shift emphasis to the local level, in order to shorten the distance between voters and decision makers and tackle critical global challenges and address EU. During the course of the day, participants had the opportunity to discuss systems of debt management and financing capital projects. Our UA experts led a group exercise where participants discussed capital projects selection and financial sources. Groups worked on sources of funding for capital projects including PPPs, local government budgets, commercial loans, fiscal autonomy, MSIP and other IFIs, and others. For more information please see the full summary report.
Participants were inspired by local best practices in Macedonia and Albania as well as the World Bank MSIP and PIUTD programs where the UPP is supporting municipalities in project selection and application for funds.
Once again, the cities and municipalities appreciated the opportunity to share and discuss important issues of joint interest, provide suggestions and support to one another, and to pose questions to the Ministries and LGA representatives in a safe environment.
Final Agenda - Vlore, October 24-26 2018.pdf
Citizen Enagement in Decision Making - S. Kdolsky.pdf
Citizens Engagement, Fier - R. Hyseni.pdf
Citizens Engagement, Prilep - B. Jankuloski.pdf
UPP Survey review, Workshop - Vlore 2018.pdf
Urban Audit, Municipality of Kucova - Xh. Kostreni.pdf
Urban Audit of MGB for LED OF Municipality Gazi Baba - S. Trajkov.pdf
City of Vlore - J. Puka and A. Paparizo.pdf
PIUTD - Tuo Shi.pdf