VNG International Annual Update 2017
It is not a coincidence that one of the Sustainable Development Goals, no. 11, specifically focuses on inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements. Already, worldwide more people live in cities than in rural areas. This trend will only get stronger. Recent studies show that 45 % of the cities that will exist in 2050 still need to be built. The way cities will develop, their spatial planning, their social structures, the governance systems for decision-making and for the interactions between all stakeholders, etc., will have an enormous impact for future generations. Local governments face multiple challenges. No wonder they seek the knowledge and experience of peers.
In The Palestinian Territories we finalised the Palestinian country programme of LGCP.
In 13 cities and towns around the West Bank we institutionalised Local Economic Development Units and Councils. Through our assistance we saw a number of economic development initiatives out of these units and councils come to full fruition last year.
In Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, for instance, the municipality set up a business incubator. More than just battling youth unemployment, the business indicator has meant a shift in thinking within the municipality. As Jumana Dweik, director of the incubator, explained about talented graduates: Instead of seeking jobs, they would instead create their jobs. To learn more about this project, you can watch the short video documentary on Youtube by clicking here. Other examples of economic initiatives on the West Bank are available on the video page as well.
In Rawabi, on the West Bank, we also finalised our activities as part of LGCP. Ever since the visit of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the new town in 2013, we have been actively involved in growing what was essentially a huge construction site into a fully functioning and living city. While still under construction for large parts in 2016, the first families moved into the town that is due to house approximately 40,000 people once completed. In the first months of 2017 more than 3,000 would follow those first pioneers, showing that Palestine’s only fully planned new town has the potential to live up to the dream. However, with first inhabitants the small municipal organisation faced a clear dilemma: waste management, sewerage, schools, beautification, public safety, public transport, etc., would all need to be arranged for, but it simply did not have to capacity to do so all at once. So, together with VNG International Rawabi municipality developed a clear vision of where the municipality wants to be in 5 years, and a multiyear strategy to accompany it. Now, the municipality can plan and prioritise, and have the confidence of being ready for its challenges today, but also in five years.
In Turkey we successfully completed the EU-funded project ‘Technical Assistance for Strengthening of Local Investment Planning Capacity with the Participation of Local Actors’ (2014-2016). The purpose of this project was to improve the capacity of the local public administration for local investment planning and sound coordination among stakeholders. A new local investment planning model was developed as a result of multi-dimensional capacity development activities conducted during the project. The new model is centred on carrying out the investment project development stage at the local level trough participatory decision-making processes based on required technical analyses. The model was successfully tested in the pilot provinces of the project, i.e. Erzurum, Mardin and Trabzon.
The project assisted local and regional authorities in the design and implementation of investment planning, including local economic development planning and policy and assisted in preparing urban infrastructural planning to boost the economy. Target groups and final beneficiaries were (deputy) Governors, (deputy) Mayors, directors of Provincial Directorate of Planning and Coordination (PDPC), provincial planning experts, technical staff of local governments, provincial representatives (managers and technical staff) of the institutions carrying out investments in the province, development agencies, universities, professional chambers and associations, and civil society organisations.
Examples of public investment project proposals prepared and submitted:
Also as part of the follow-up of the completed LGCP programme we agreed with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to elaborate a programme aiming to improve the performance of a number of urban governments in the field of inclusiveness, safety, resilience and sustainability. This programme, called DEALS (2017-2021) will start in 7 cities in Benin, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique, Myanmar and Philippines. The exact approach will vary per city, but in all cases the output will be in terms of improved urban government capacity to govern sustainable urban development trajectories characterised by an integrated, multi-level, multi-stakeholder and inclusive governance approach. The projects in Jakarta and Manila will be implemented as part of our participation in the Human Cities Coalition (HCC), a public-private partnership of organisations from business, government, NGOs and academia dedicated to making cities more inclusive and sustainable.
VNG International continues to develop innovative training tools for local governments and their partners in ensuring effective crisis management and disaster response. In addition to the simulation game on disaster response that has been implemented in the Philippines, VNG International is now finalising a crisis leadership training for local governments. This new concept presents the ins and outs on strategic and tactical response, crisis communications and preparations for local crisis teams. This way, experiences within Dutch governance are shared to support local public leaders worldwide, to prepare themselves for future crises and disasters.
For many local governments worldwide, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the new international agenda 2016-2030 provide direction for the policies and services they develop. On behalf of VNG, VNG International organises the so-called Municipalities4GlobalGoals Campaign. The campaign facilitates policy development, dialogue and action at the local level to support the Global Goals agenda in
The Netherlands. Together with Dutch municipalities and other stakeholders, varying form development NGOs, youth organisations and the Bank of Netherlands Municipalities, we have developed a series of action formats to which Dutch municipalities can subscribe.
At the request of the Dutch government, VNG President Jan van Zanen headed the Dutch official delegation to the Habitat III conference in Quito. We see this as a clear recognition that the Urban Agenda can only be realised with full ownership of local governments.
We had actively participated in the international preparatory conferences (Surabaya a.o.) and in the preparatory team at national level, headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We have put a lot of emphasis on the governance issues related to urbanisation, based on concepts like local democracy, autonomy and subsidiarity. And we are happy to continue our involvement following the paragraph in the Habitat III New Urban Agenda, saying:
‘We note the importance of continuing to engage in the follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda with sub-national and local government associations represented at the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments’.