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Sustainable development is a call to collective political action  

​​Local politicians from EU and Mediterranean countries discuss collaboration on sustainable development in Ramallah.

The city of Ramallah and the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities on 30 June hosted a meeting of the executive board of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), to discuss how cities and regions can collaborate to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Local and regional leaders, working together in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean, also considered ways to develop the blue economy in the Mediterranean and to deepen integration and economic relations between local and regional authorities throughout the Mediterranean.

Musa Hadid, Mayor of Ramallah and President of the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities, said: "Over the past nine years, ARLEM has shown that there is a community of mayors and governors in Europe and around the Mediterranean who are keen to support the development of each other's cities and regions. Palestine needs support and, potentially, other cities and regions could provide particularly practical help, because they know the challenges of providing core services. But, first of all, they must understand the very specific and significant practical challenges that we face here. That is why I and the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities invited them to Ramallah."

Leila Ghannam, Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, also addressed the ARLEM delegation.

Karl-Heinz-Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "We come with a deep sense of humility – both about the challenges faced by Palestinian local authorities and about our ability to help in the unique context of this region. But I believe that, with every passing year, cities and regions are increasingly aware that many of their local challenges can be better tackled in partnership: that is the case for the roughly two-thirds of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that can be achieved by 2030 only by work at the local and regional level. The UN's sustainable development agenda is a call to collective political action. In Europe, the UN SDGs are spurring international collaboration between cities and regions; perhaps we can bring Palestinian local authorities into this cooperation. The UN SDGs already shape the European Joint Strategy in support of the Palestinian Authority, so city-to-city collaboration would reinforce the EU's approach."

Mina Bouhdoud, Mayor of Lagfifat in Morocco and co-chairwoman of ARLEM, said: "We are very conscious of the very constrained and extremely challenging circumstances in which Palestinian communities work. This makes partnerships and common objectives even more important. In Morocco, national, regional and local authorities are working more and more closely together to advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. I hope that Palestinian authorities and communities can also work effectively together towards the UN's 17 goals."

Juan Espadas Cejas, Mayor of Seville, said: "In February, Seville hosted not just ARLEM's largest annual meeting, but also an important UN meeting on how to cities and regions can advance the UN SDGs. These are just two recent examples of Seville's – and Spain's – deep commitment to promoting sustainable development. We believe that global challenges require local responses. We must help each other. We need to work on finding ways to partner with Palestinian mayors. We need to look beyond traditional development tools and tap the potential of peers-to-peers partnerships."

Notes to editors:

  • Since 2010, ARLEM has served as a platform for cooperation between local and regional politicians from the EU and the Mediterranean regions. Its recommendations serve to inform decisions taken by the EU and the Union for the Mediterranean. ARLEM  brings together 80 members and 2 observers from the EU and its Mediterranean partner countries, ranging from Mauritania to Albania. Libya has observer status. ARLEM is represented on the Regional Platform on Sustainable Urban Development of the Union of the Mediterranean; the platform's work is linked to objective 11 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals ("Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable").
  • The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) champions the development of international cooperation between cities and regions within the EU but also globally. Since 2015, for example, it has brought together a group of European cities and regions – Seville included – to help eight Libyan cities, including Tripoli and Benghazi. The partnerships with Libyan cities range from fisheries and waste-management projects to a peace-building project with the UN to train youth workers. The Nicosia initiative – as the collaboration is known – enjoys financial support from the European Commission and the cities and regions involved, amongst others.
  • Other members of the ARLEM delegation were Lütfü Savaş, Mayor of Hatay in Turkey and, from the European Union: Markku Markkula, from  Espoo in Finland and 1st vice president of the CoR; Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the province of West Pomerania and leader of the presidents of Polish provinces; Arnoldas Abramavičius of Zarasai district in Lithuania and the CoR's rapporteur on the SDGs; Vincenzo Bianco, former interior minister of Italy and former mayor and current council member of Catania; Paweł Grzybowski of Rypin in Poland; Jean-Francois Barnier, Mayor of Chambon-Feugerolles in France; and Uno Silberg of Kose municipality in Estonia.
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