The first of these broader networking events was the general kick-off of the CIUDAD programme that was held in June 2010 in conjunction with the closing conference of the CIUDAD predecessor programme MED-PACT.
Some 100 participants – representatives of almost all the 21 projects financed under the Cooperation In Urban Development and Dialogue (CIUDAD) programme - attended the kick-off conference organized by the Ciudad Supporting Mechanism (CSM) in Brussels, from June 21-23rd. They had come not only to learn more about what will be expected of them in the next three years during which their various environmental, economic, urban development and good government projects will be implemented, but also to hear the lessons learned from MED-PACT. ‘We are delighted by the evident sustainability of this approach’, said Mr Jesus Lavina, Head of Sector of the Environment at the EuropeAid Cooperation Office, after almost all partners reported that they are now in the process of signing further cooperation agreements to work together and learn from each other.
Each of the CIUDAD projects has a minimum of three partners, two of which must be in different ENPI countries, and one in the EU. Implementing projects in different countries is not without its challenges, but this ‘networking and exchange of experience is very important because what works in one country is also likely to be relevant for neighbours’, notedMr. Fréderic VALLIER, Secretary General, Council of European Municipalities and Regions – CEMR. Not only will CIUDAD enable each project learn from each other and build capacities to implement possible relevant solutions. In addition, the CSM, which provides technical assistance to the 21 projects, will facilitate further networking between the various projects and with wider relevant networks, especially those addressing similar thematic issues, such as energy efficiency, waste management, or economic development solutions.
An important theme of the CIUDAD programme is the importance for local authorities to work with civil society to identify priorities and meet the needs of their communities. But, “it is important to identify complementarities in order to overcome mistrust and benefit from different types of expertise and approaches”Ms. Rose Anne BISIAUX, representing Dunkerque (France) Local Government, a partner in the MED-PACT programme,cautioned her colleagues.
Most of the individual projects had already kicked off at the time of conference.