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To better respond to their citizens’ needs, the Mediterranean cities need to be efficiently managed, economically competitive and financially viable to be livable and accountable. The Arab spring has raised critical needs and challenges regarding participatory processes and decentralization, and citizens are demanding to be fully involved in the decision making process.
Against this background, the Joint Work Program (JWP) responds with a timely initiative, revolving around three pillars: (i) strengthening cities for inclusive economic growth; (ii) creating accountable cities and towns; and (iii) promoting subsidiarity. Both CMI and Cities Alliance Secretariat jointly work to define a regional strategy and a country by country approach based on a particular framework for collaboration to be more pervasive, in line with the additionality principle, not to duplicate their members’ activities but to go further.
Following the meeting in Tunis, May 30, 2012 and the agreement to formulate first a Tunisia Country Project, the JWP members met again in Rome, September 7, 2012. The Rome meeting was the opportunity to keep the momentum built in Tunis, with the attendance of the Tunisian representatives, which solidly anchored the JWP process into a demand-driven approach. The JWP members alike highlighted the significant added value created through this initiative for their existing and planned operations. Members also raised the political value of this initiative not only to build up coherence among development partners but also to foster a dialogue on cities and urban development with national and supra-national institutions.
Regarding the JWP governance, the joint Secretariat, composed of CMI and Cities Alliance, provides a platform for coordination on the basis of which their members are better served. In addition to this task force, the Rome meeting established the Steering Committee (SC), gathering members and partners to determine the strategic orientations, select and agree on the activities.
Building on the Tunis meeting (May 2012) and the JWP members’ commitment to strengthen the Tunisian decentralization process as identified in the needs assessment carried out by the joint Secretariat, and expressed by partners and counterparts in Tunisia, the joint Secretariat elaborated a Tunisian Country Project. In Rome, members endorsed the richness of the multi-level approach proposed for Tunisia (national, regional, city, and community level). Members laid stress on the importance of: (i) anchoring of decentralization principles in the Constitution; (ii) focusing on national policies for urban and regional development planning especially as Tunisia is currently engaged in a constitutional process; (iii) organizing a national urban forum in Tunisia with all national and local stakeholders.
In terms of process, the activities will be implemented through a phased and pragmatic approach, which considers the members’ current objectives and scope of work. The Tunisian key partners and stakeholders are part of this process and closely collaborate with the JWP Secretariat and members to fine tune the work program to better respond to their needs.