Discussion explores role of municipalities in sustainable development

On November 1, the Master’s Program in Government and Local Government at Birzeit University held a discussion on the role of Palestinian municipalities in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Presented by the Director of the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International), Peter Knip, the discussion explored how municipalities can take a more active role in achieving sustainable development.

Knip traced the history of VNG International and its role in providing sustainable development guidance and support. He said, “The first association was established in Canada, in 1905; which was then followed by the Czech Republic, in 1908; and in the Netherlands in 1912. The Palestinian Association of Municipalities, which was founded in 1998, was the brainchild of a Palestinian businessman living in the Netherlands.”

Knip then detailed the Dutch experience in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals: “In the Netherlands, the Prime Minister asks each of his ministers to detail how best to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while VNG International guides and monitors the process.”

“The focus of the Netherlands at the moment,” added Knip, “is on renewable energy, especially the generation of electricity from wind and solar farms. The equality and integrity of the Dutch community are also important in the Dutch sustainable development strategy.”

Knip also highlighted VNG International’s role as a supporter of the Palestinian municipalities and their efforts toward sustainable development. He said, “VNG International has always been an active partner of Palestinian municipalities. With our support, and a unified Palestinian Municipalities Association, we will create a better future for sustainable development in Palestine.”

The floor was then opened for questions from the attending students, who inquired on how best to apply the Dutch experience in Palestine and how to integrate the efforts of local and national governing bodies.