On Wednesday 4th June, 2014, Saida presented at a Public Forum its Urban Development Strategy with the participation of the Municipality, the local work team, the Hariri Foundation and local stakeholders. Over 120 people attended the event.

The main outcome of the session was a rich discussion between all the participants on the vision and future of Saida Municipality that was held after the meeting and presentation of SUDS outputs of Saida.

Mr. Mustafa Hijazi, member of the Municipal Council in charge of the USUDS project, introduced the event, highlighting the conditions – sometimes difficult – under which the process was however conducted very successfully. He was followed byspeeches of Mr. Mohamed Seoudi, Mayor of Saida; Mrs. Bahia Hariri, President of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development; Mr. Joan Parpal, USUDS project leader and General Secretary of Medcities; Dr. Farouk Tebbal, International expert for Saida UDS; and finally Dr. Howayda El Harithy, coordinator of Saida Local Team of experts.

The Mayor of Saida confirmed his continuous support to the process including at this crucial phase of the adoption of the action plan. He acknowledged the importance of USUDS as a tool of planning for the sustainable development, as well as a tool for thinking strategically the future of the city of Saida. Mrs. Bahia Hariri restated her support to the participatory process of the SUDS which involved the citizens, the private sector and the authorities, as a core condition to build a vibrant Lebanese city. Mrs. Hariri extended her thanks to Medcities and the experts’ team which supported the full process. Mr. Joan Parpal underlined the networking between Medcities members in supporting Saida SUDS and its future implementation and noted the need to address the challenging issue of governance. Dr. Farouk Tebbal underscored the innovative findings of the SUDS of Saida which needs to be translated now into concrete actions and decisions and insisted on the need to set up urgently a dedicated implementation unit. Dr. Howayda El Harithy recognised all the work done by the local team, the stakeholders and the different organizations of the civil society that participated in the definition and development of the City Development Strategy.

The projects of the action plan of Saida were presented during the morning in two sessions; the participants had the opportunity to discuss the different actions and projects proposed in the action plan as well their viability. The discussions gave an opportunity to all the participants to state their opinions which resulted in very enriching debate, with relevant interventions of the audience on the Saida strategic framework and its strategic projects.

In her closing remarks, Mrs. Bahia Hariri addressed the very crucial issues of the preservation of the environment of the city of Saida, the need to build the city with and for its youth and the importance of education. Mrs. Hariri once again insisted on the participatory process as one of the most positive aspects of the SUDS of Saida which needs to be sustained during the implementation phase about to start.

This collaboration and all the efforts done in the diagnosis of Saida, led to a common vision on the city:

Saida, and its dynamic surroundings, offer a healthy diversified economy and green environment for successive generations of residents, where they can live and prosper by capitalising on its locational advantages, rich history and cultural diversity.

To achieve this vision of the city, the local team defined the objectives of the Strategic Framework, which include the following issues:

  1. Improving socio-economic conditions of residents
  2. Sustaining environmental health
  3. Connecting the city with its surroundings
  4. Coordination, cooperation and networking
  5. Lobbying with the national institutions for implementing, amending and/or developing legal frameworks
  6. Security and Stability

The strategic framework of Saida have been translated into twenty seven strategic projects; each project targets multiple objectives and a large diversity of projects; these range from “soft” (reforms of the institutional and regulatory framework) to “hard”, concrete projects and from short term to long term.

Also, the action plan of Saida includes a revision of fifty projects that are currently under way, partially financed or proposed for the city of Saida at the time of the USUDS launching, in order to analyse whether they contribute to the strategic objectives of the Saida UDS. This review and evaluation is intended to help the Municipality make decisions to pursue, support or lobby for projects that are aligned with the visions and the mission for the city of Saida.