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World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Supports Local Governance in Kosovo

Categories: Events | Author: Monika Kresic | Posted: 6/15/2016 | Views: 3263
November 2, 2015, Kosovo

November 2, 2015

 

Prishtina, November 2, 2015 — A joint World Bank–Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP) brought together local decision-makers from most of Kosovo’s municipalities to discuss tools and approaches to enhance the efficiency, transparency, accountability, and integrity of public services.

The mayors and senior local government representatives discussed the “Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption” and “Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement”. Both topics are key ingredients to municipalities’ operations and the quality of service delivery to their citizens. The UPP organizers announced a Call for Applications for Kosovo municipalities, encouraging them to apply for World Bank technical and expert support to support them in implementing the tools and approaches presented during the workshop.

Kosovo will only be able to build a more productive and competitive economy if local governments have the right instruments at their disposal to deliver public services effectively to citizens and firms,“ said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager in Kosovo. This program—facilitating a city-to-city dialogue among municipalities in the Western Balkans—should provide important inputs to local governments’ efforts aimed at strengthening municipal finances, urban planning, and land management.

The innovative and practical “Integrity Building and Anticorruption” methodology has already been applied in Istog and Gjakova. It is a participatory approach designed to help local authorities to improve their decision-making and operational procedures to increase transparency, accountability, and integrity. The “Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement” will help local governments to address the demands of citizens and increase knowledge and awareness about social accountability among stakeholders. It makes an assessment of current mechanisms in place, based on consultations with stakeholders on the potential of using information and communication technology (ICT) tools to improve governance.

The joint World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program aims at (i) strengthening the capacity of local governments in South-East Europe (SEE); (ii) equipping local elected officials, city administrators, and technical staff with practical tools for decision-making; (iii) managing effectively urban development for inclusive and sustainable growth; and (iv) offering participatory approaches for citizen engagement and fosters integrity building. While global in scope, UPP is targeted at SEE countries, including Kosovo.

The program’s first phase (2011–14) focused on key dimensions of local government, including municipal finance, urban planning and land management, urban governance/anticorruption, and social accountability. The second phase was officially launched in February 2015, offering a holistic approach to strengthen local government capacity, while building on synergies with other programs active in SEE region. The Prishtina workshop has marked the launch of the program’s second phase in Kosovo.

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Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Cities

Worldwide, local governments face an increasing demand from the growing urban population to provide basic infrastructure and services, promote more inclusive growth, adapt to climate change, and mitigate risks from disasters. Although development pathways differ because of regional and local variations, one consistent pattern has emerged: economic prosperity most often occurs in cities.

Cities can reduce poverty and expand individual and national prosperity. The bulk of economic activities take place in cities; urban centers attract business, trade and other service industries, and offer dense labor markets with the ability to move products over smaller distances, shortening the supply chain. However, cities in South-East Europe (SEE) do not yet harvest their full potential to contribute to economic prosperity and deliver better quality of life for their citizens. They face a number of challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, increasing global competition and financial instability. At the same time, cities have room for improvement: they can use their own resources more efficiently and also possess a huge potential for energy efficiency.

In order to address these challenges the World Bank and Government of Austria have partnered to launch the Urban Partnership Program (UPP) aimed to strengthen the capacity of local governments in South-East Europe, to promote city to city exchange and peer learning within and beyond 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 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. 

The Program is structured into three product lines to reflect the demand: E-learning & Knowledge products: Global curriculum through World Bank Open Learning Campus and Regional/local Partners: NALAS (E-Academy), LGAs; Connectivity through City to City Dialogues on Municipal Finance, Urban Planning & Land Management; and Sustainability through In depth city engagement, including self-assessment tools (Municipal Finance Self-Assessment and Urban Audit) and participatory methodologies (Integrity Building and Social Sustainability & Citizen Engagement). 

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