The international seminar “Local voices towards permanent dialogue in the Mediterranean” counted with the participation of the cities of Tunis, Sfax, Sousse, Bethlehem, Tripoli, Saida, Chefchaouen and Misrata and took place in Tunis, Tunisia on the 20th and 21st October.

The invited mayors and political representatives discussed about the main needs and priorities of the municipalities of South Mediterranean countries and had the opportunity to present their activities and share their experiences and challenges. The aim of this seminar was to provide an open space for the invited mayors for discussion and exchange. The main topics on the agenda were climate change pressures and green recovery opportunities, focusing especially on youth employment, migration and mobility. In addition, there were discussions about the current agendas for the Mediterranean that have an impact on local development and on how local authorities can have an active role in the definition and implementation of such agendas, for a bottom-up approach for regional integration.

The two keynote speakers of the event provided some inspiring interventions for the participants. Firstly, Mr. Francisco Acosta Soto, Deputy Head of Mission of the EU Delegation in Tunisia, provided a historical overview of the regional integration in the Mediterranean, from the Barcelona Process to the New EU Agenda for the Mediterranean. The second day, the Director of the Centre for Mediterranean Integration in Marseille, Mrs. Blanca Moreno-Dodson, talked about the importance of the participation of local authorities in existing regional platforms, and presented the work done by CMI-UNOPS in that regard, focusing on the issue of territorial resilience as well as migration and mobility.

The Secretary General from MedCities stressed the importance of the existence of networks such as MedCities as a meeting point for gathering mayors and councils in order to them to share their experiences, not only at political, but also at technical level. Lastly, the Director of the Konrad Adenauer Regional Program Political Dialogue in the South Mediterranean, Mr. Thomas Wolk, stressed the importance of events like that in order to understand the reality and needs of the local authorities, and committed to the continuation of such exchanges in the upcoming future.

In the frame of the celebration of this seminar, there was a technical visit to the Medina of Tunis. The participants had the opportunity to be acquainted with the projects for its touristic and economic reactivation and the valorisation of its built and cultural patrimony implemented by the Association for Safeguarding the Medina of Tunis. Furthermore, the municipal councillor of Tunis, responsible on environmental issues, presented a recent initiative of the city to promote sustainable waste management in the Medina through a circular economy approach, creating new job opportunities.

This seminar pretends to be the first of a series of events, aiming to a permanent dialogue forum to be developed in 2022-2030, which will tackle the importance of the role of local authorities in the development and the regional integration of the Mediterranean.

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