The first of the planned dialogues has brought together the Illustrious Mr. Ernest Maragall, vice-president of the International and Cooperation department of the Metropolitan Area of ​​Barcelona, and Mr. Ghassan Saliba, president of the Catalonia-Lebanon Association.

The first ‘Dialogue MedCities’ titled “The role of metropolises and civil society in the face of the climate and social crisis in the Mediterranean”  has been an important moment to share a space for debate and exchange between political and civil society representatives about the role of local authorities in the Euro-Mediterranean context.  

This MedCities event, open to both the press and the public, has had three objectives:

● Claim the role of MedCities as a bridge between Mediterranean municipalities.

● Present MedCities work to the general Catalan public.

● Highlight the need to continue working for a more united Mediterranean, in which the role of local authorities and cities must be fundamental to face the many shared challenges such as the climate emergency, inequalities, human development and economic or migrations.

This first dialogue was opened by MedCities Secretary General, Mr. Josep Canals and attended by the Illustrious Mr. Ernest Maragall, vice-president of International and Cooperation of the AMB, and Mr. Ghassan Saliba, president of the Catalonia-Lebanon Association. «MedCities is a network of Mediterranean cities as a point of exchange and a practical tool for the implementation of projects to strengthen local authorities in the face of the climate crisis» explained Mr. Canals at the opening.

During the debate, topics such as the Mediterranean being the second region most affected by climate change in the world, after the Arctic, or the innovative actions proposed from the municipal and metropolitan level to face climate matters. As stated by Mr. Ernest Maragall, «conflicts belong to countries but problems happen in cities. Therefore, networks like MedCities are needed to help take concrete actions«.

Among other issues, speakers have also emphasized the role of civil society in achieving truly democratic and successful spaces throughout the region. «When there is an anti-democratic central power it is difficult to talk about a local power with autonomy. For these regions, the challenges are democratization, the economic crisis and the creation of jobs,» says Mr. Ghassan Saliba.

Finally, local social policies, the renaturalization of public spaces, and human mobility have been addressed, according to Maragall, «the concept of cooperation should be surpassed by that of co-responsibility«.

The event was closed by Yoya Alcoceba, Director General of Development Cooperation of the Generalitat de Catalunya, who emphasized that «public administrations are responsible for managing the main challenges such as mobility or water management, but it is necessary to seek alliances with other sectors such as civil society and public and private actors«.

As a whole, the day ended by offering a detailed view of the role played by local authorities and civil society in the Mediterranean basin to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals promulgated by the General Assembly of the UN. In the same way, the role of MedCities has been highlighted as being in charge of providing tools to local authorities and member institutions for them to fulfill these policies.

In the following months, MedCities will celebrate two other dialogues -dates to be confirmed- to continue debating about the need for municipalities Exchange good practices and to have a voice in governmental decisions.

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