Leading mayors and governors from the Mediterranean region and the European Union have urged national, regional and local governments to work more closely together to help women and to prevent the radicalisation of young people. The two sets of policy proposals, adopted by the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) on 21 February, emphasise the responsibilities of local and regional authorities for delivering education and social infrastructure.
The reports – " Women's empowerment in the Mediterranean region " and " The role of the sub-national authorities from the Mediterranean region in addressing radicalisation and violent extremism of young people " – are the latest in a series of recommendations adopted by ARLEM on issues that are critical to the sustainable development of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. In recent years, ARLEM has also adopted proposals on, for example, climate change , the energy transformation , water management and waste management .
Welcoming the two reports, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, co-chairman of ARLEM and President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "Social exclusion, poverty and marginalisation inside and outside the EU feed violent radicalisation. Only through more cooperation and more investment can we reduce inequality, create jobs for young people, and promote community integration, all of which is only possible if there is action at the local level. It is also critically important that the local leaders gathered here today – from Morocco to Germany, and from Ireland to Albania – support women's empowerment and condemn all forms of abuse. This requires increasing women's participation in politics and business and taking action to protect women. The starting point must be increasing educational opportunities for all."
ARLEM also adopted recommendations confirming that local leaders share the goals agreed in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals – to make local communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. President Lambertz said: "That is a solid basis for cooperation in the years ahead and we have a useful platform dealing with this topic within the Union for the Mediterranean. We also have an inspiring example of cooperation to emulate: for the past two years, Libyan cities have come together to forge partnerships with European cities."
Mohamed Kamal El Daly – the Governor of Giza, host of the meeting, and ARLEM's rapporteur on radicalisation – said: "Security is an indispensable part of countering radicalisation, but we need to go beyond security. Jobs significantly help social integration, but efforts to create jobs must go hand in hand with educational reform and investment into the type of places where young men and women want to spend time, such as sports, cultural and social facilities. Our focus should particularly be on vulnerable areas, such as border regions and marginalised communities in cities and the countryside. It is vital too that we understand that women can play a critical role in preventing radicalisation."
Mohamed Boudra , co-chairman of ARLEM and President of the Association of Moroccan Mayors, said: "Cities and regions are here to increase cooperation, but they also recognise that successful development requires closer collaboration between local, regional, national, and supranational bodies. So ARLEM is very glad that the Union of the Mediterranean has created a platform for sustainable urban development, to help pool experience of managing rapid urbanisation. At the same time, we must ensure that the gap between cities and countryside is kept as narrow as possible, because we will only develop sustainably if every region develops. We need more jobs and more effective local administration, and ARLEM's reports in 2018 on local policies to promote youth entrepreneurship and good governance will help towards that goal. In Morocco, we have seen how a drive by all levels of government in one sector – such as renewable energy – can help people in the countryside. Cities and regions can help their own economies by taking climate action, for example. Sustainable development is both local and global."
Note to editors
The European Committee of the Regions created the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) in 2010 to provide a local and regional perspective on Mediterranean issues. It complements efforts made by the EU and non-EU Mediterranean states in the region to develop more channels and levels of dialogue and cooperation, including the Union for the Mediterranean . The EU delegation in ARLEM is comprised of 32 members of the European Committee of the Regions and eight representatives of EU associations of local authorities.
The ARLEM report on " Women's empowerment in the Mediterranean region " was drafted by Mary Freehill, a member of Dublin City Council. The report concludes with nine recommendations. Noting that regional and local governments are "on the frontline of identifying and tackling violence and harmful practices against women", the report argues that local and regional leaders are "well placed to roll out public information campaigns" to raise awareness of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, "can make significant practical interventions to increase women's participation in local employment" and are "well placed to identify and tackle barriers to women's equal access to land control and ownership and access to finance". At present, however, "poor infrastructure and resources result in poor services and totally inadequate protection for vulnerable women", the report states.
ARLEM met on 20-21 February in Giza, Egypt, at the invitation of Mohamed Kamal El Daly, the Governor of Giza. Ahead of their meeting, ARLEM members visited an urban project in Giza.
Since 2015, the European Committee of the Regions has developed a close relationship with Libyan cities, with the aim of improving public services in Libya and of helping Libyan cities to enter the international community. In January 2016, at the request of Libyan cities, the CoR agreed to mobilise and facilitate partnerships between Libya and EU cities and regions. Under the Nicosia initiative , named because the idea was agreed in the capital of Cyprus, EU cities and regions have so far provided or pledged support for Libya's local authorities in the areas of water management, waste management, primary health care, public administration, language training, budgeting, fisheries, policing and counter-radicalisation.
In 2016, Morocco hosted the United Nations' major annual meeting on climate action – the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) . On the sidelines of the conference, ARLEM discussed sustainable development with a focus on climate action, and encouraged non-EU cities and regions to join the Covenant of Mayors, an initiative in which signatories pledge to exceed the EU's ambitions for emissions reduction and, in return, receive technical support from the EU. The Covenant of Mayors in 2017 became the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy , through a merger with the US Compact of Mayors. The CoR is a political patron of the Covenant.
Photos are available via Flickr . Background information on Egypt is available from a recent study by the European Parliament.
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