The CPMR’s InterMediterranean Commission (IMC) recently took part in a major series of workshops aimed at improving territorial cooperation on issues such as climate change, energy, youth unemployment and socio-economic governance.  

The Mediterranean Commission of United Cities and Local Governments’ workshops, which took place in Sousse, Tunisia, on 22-23 September, were led by UCLG and co-organised by the IMC-CPMR, PLATFORMA, Arco Latino, and MedCities. The workshops represented the first step towards the 4th Forum of Local and Regional Authorities of the Mediterranean (FALRM), taking place in Morocco at the end of 2016.

The event gathered more than 100 participants from municipalities, local and regional authorities from the north, south and east of the basin, representatives of Tunisian ministries, international institutions such as the United Nations Development Program, and representatives from the civil society and the private sector.

During the event, the IMC – in collaboration with PLATFORMA and other Mediterranean networks – organised a workshop on integrated territorial development, highlighting its connection to issues linked to climate, environment and energy, integrated socio-economic development and spatial planning.

A workshop on ‘Youth and Employment’, organised by Arco Latino, and ‘Local Finances’, organised by the Local Finances Commission of UCLG, also took place.

The debates and ideas discussed during the workshops highlighted around ten innovative practices, cooperation models, project opportunities or collaboration agreements, and acknowledged, among others:

  • The importance of implementing and accompanying decentralisation processes and capacity building for territorial collectivities on the basis of an integrated territorial development model;
  • The need to promote climate and socio-economic governance systems that are based on multilevel governance, with particular attention to more vulnerable and peripheral territories (rural, coastal, semi-urban areas…);
  • The need to actively include young people in territorial development planning processes, as well as the added value of integrating them in democratic processes to avoid radicalisation. And the need to invest into training and employment opportunities.

The workshops also produced a series of more sectorial and specific recommendations, including the need to:

  • Promote the Covenant of Mayors in the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean;
  • Reinforce collaboration via public-private partnerships e.g. with the private banking sector in multi-fund projects of high territorial interest, including public authorities on different scales – international/European, national, regional, local;
  • Promote the diversification of tourism, as well as deseasonalisation and ecotourism, while preserving historical and natural heritage and applying the Integrated Coastal Zone Management principles.

Regarding capacity building, the workshops underlined the necessity for southern territorial collectivities to improve the transversal aspects of planning, stakeholders’ consultations, and public-private partnerships.

Participants highlighted various topics of particular interest for this type of training, including sustainable tourism and rehabilitation of the medinas, waste management, integrated coastal zone management planning tools, measures to increase energy efficiency in buildings and the use of renewable energies.

The upcoming FALRM could take these reflections into account for the future, and further enhance exchanges, partnerships, as well as the implementation of concrete training actions.

From its side, the IMC is already working with PLATFORMA to hire an expert who will support the network in a capacity building activity. This activity is inscribed within the framework of the PLATFORMA Strategic Partnership, and linked to the EU ‘South Neighborhood’ action.

The expert will support the development of a training module, with a focus on Tunisia and Morocco, that will aim to reinforce an integrated territorial approach in the delivery of public services in the Mediterranean. The terms of reference (ToRs) for hiring the expert have already been published and will stay open until October 31, 2016.

The discussions from Sousse, along with other project results and previous studies, will form the basis of preparation for the training, particularly in relation to the analysis of the needs of southern Mediterranean territorial collectives.