The City of Barcelona reinforces its support to the Middle East
Cities and regions throughout the world are raising their stakes in humanitarian support, realising that foreign action is a responsibility of all levels of government. The City of Barcelona’s activities in Lebanon and Jordan are a good example of the power that resides in cities to reach out and support foreign cities and regions by sharing both resources and local expertise.
In Lebanon, the municipality of Barcelona is working along three lines of action. First is a set of activities in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its Lebanese Host Community Support Project. Within this framework, a Joint Catalan Cooperation Initiative is funding a Solid Waste Project in the Al-Fayha Urban Community (area of Tripoli). Second, Barcelona has aggregated a 120.000 € development fund. Third, Barcelona provides technical assistance for local authority’s capacity building, whose experts are working in coordination with UNDP, and the Lebanese technical teams in Al-Fayha.
In the city of Saida, the third largest city of Lebanon located in the Southern Governorate, Barcelona continues to support the process of rethinking and redesigning the urban seafront of the city. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed and new lines of common work have been declared for the next period, for example the creation of a Tourism Strategy for the city and the efficiency policies of water for municipal uses. All these activities directly link in with challenges faced by the city of Barcelona and thus make this a valuable learning experience for both parties. Lastly, Barcelona support Action Against Hunger, the Movement for Peace (MPDL) and the Foundation for Peace and Solidarity (Fundacio Pau i Solidaritat) and other humanitarian aid projects with a 156.000 € grant.
Recently, Barcelona has expanded its presence to Jordan where an extensive package of commitments proofs the city’s commitment to the region. Activities take shape in the form of a direct relationship with Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), the Spanish Cooperation and a direct funding of UN programs for refugees in the north. Through UNICEF, Barcelona has funded part of the WASH system in the Azraq Camp (60.000 €). Barcelona is affirming its long-term engagement in the region by renewing this agreement.
At the bilateral level, and in coordination with GAM and the Spanish Cooperation, Barcelona’s technical staff is involved in the design of the 2nd phase of the Urbanisation Pilot Project in the Jabal Al-Hussein neighbourhood of Amman. The experts will continue to be involved in the evaluation of the first phase of implementation. The City furthermore intends to sign a (MoU) between the GAM and Barcelona after the Jordan local elections that will be held in August this year.
Applications for international cooperation subsidies rise by 45%
A total of 211 projects are seeking subsidies this year from the funds available for international cooperation, a 45.5% rise compared to last year. Almost half the projects correspond to the section on education for global justice. The budget allocation for this year’s subsidies is at least 4,670,000 euros, 15% more than last year.
This is the first time the application process has been operated entirely online, the aim being to simplify and speed up procedures and rationalise the number of documents to be presented, reducing them significantly. The idea is also to refocus the subsidies, moving towards a wider model of cooperation to make Barcelona a globally responsible city.
The process maintains the three programmes from the last few years, but now groups them together as cooperation for global justice, cooperation for global justice in specific cities (focusing on backing local governments in cities in rolling out municipal policies) and education for global justice.
The "Tour de l'Amitié" of the twin city of Cologne comes from Turin to Barcelona by bike
On 21 May, Pablo Sanchez, Director of International Relations, received a group of 11 employees from the City of Cologne, who cycled to Barcelona from Turin, on a bike tour known as the Tour de l'amitié. The objective is to cycle to those European cities either twinned or sharing a close relationship with Cologne. A few years back, the first stage took them from Cologne to Turin. Deputy Mayor Andreas Wolter received the delegation as they arrived in Barcelona, representing Mayor Henriette Rekers who was, unfortunately, unable to attend due to health problems.
Cologne and Barcelona have been twinned since 1984 and enjoy one of the most active partnerships thanks to a citizen association promoting theserelations. Today, both cities are partners in the EU GrowSmarter Project, led by Stockholm. This Lighthouse project, devoted to smart city technologies, is the highest funded European project at €32,521,771, participated in by Barcelona.