Representatives from over one hundred Lebanese local authorities, the EU Delegation to Lebanon, the European Commission - DG Development and Cooperation and the CIUDAD programme met on March 20 in Beirut and discussed on local governance, decentralized cooperation, EU support to LAs and on the lessons learnt from past projects/initiatives involving Lebanese local authorities.
Inaugurating this first meeting of its kind in Lebanon, H.E. Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the EU Delegation in Lebanon, reiterated the support of the EU to local authorities as principal actors of development. EU support to local authorities and decentralisation in Lebanon amounts to over 60 contracts with a total value of EUR 65M.
Dialogue is key
Within the context of the CIUDAD project (Cooperation for urban development and dialogue), the EU organised the encounter in the spirit of its ‘Structured Dialogue’ initiative. Representatives of LAs, civil society and the European Commission involved in the Structured Dialogue shed light on the importance of their respective roles in local development, on possibilities of cooperation between these actors and on challenges related to such cooperation.
“In local development, dialogue is key”, affirmed Rolf Swart, representing VNG International (international cooperation agency of the Association of Dutch Municipalities). “An enabling environment should be created to maximise contributions by local authorities and civil society organisations as relevant actors in good governance”. VNG International implements the CIUDAD project and was invited to share the experiences of the Dutch association of municipalities.
During the debate, the EU also called on LAs to consider a consultation mechanism so that they take part in cooperation programming and implementation.
The encounter offered a platform for dialogue between Lebanese LAs and EU representatives. Discussions focused on themes such as decentralized cooperation in a centralized environment, enhanced participation of local actors in policy processes and on lessons learned from project implementation and partnerships.
Bruno Montariol, programme manager at the EU Delegation in Lebanon closed the encounter by sharing not only the objectives and purposes of EU support to Lebanese LAs, but also the difficulties the EU encounters in implementing its programs on both local and national level.
A report including the conclusions of the encounter will be shared with the political and economic leaders of the country, so that the debate can continue beyond this meeting.
More detailed information on the outcomes this event will be published soon on the CIUDAD website.
Link to the EU Delegation press release.