Workshop Explores Role of Municipalities in Sustainable Development

The Department of Public Administration at Birzeit University, in cooperation with the Government and Local Government MA program, held a workshop titled “The Transformation of Palestinian Municipalities from Administrative Bodies into Leaders of Local Sustainable Development,” on October 28, 2017, on the university campus.

The workshop showcased the creative, innovative experiences of local governments as exemplars of the mixture of the theoretical and applied aspects of sustainable development, such as the municipalities of Ramallah, Hebron, and Qalqilya. The workshop also provided a space for academics and experts in development and governance to discuss the current and future trends in development, and to incorporate new and advanced methods in their own organizations and institutions.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs at Birzeit University, Dr. Faisal Awadallah, noted the importance of the workshop in his speech. “The workshop,” Dr. Awadallah said, “is a vital milestone in the journey toward the achievement of sustainable development in Palestine. It fits neatly into our national agenda that will serve and advance the Palestinian community’s living standards and quality of life.”

The Dean of the Faculty of Law and Public Administration, Dr. Yaser Amouri, pointed out the faculty’s strategy of helping and supporting the Palestinian community whichever way it can. He said, “This workshop is part of our ongoing commitment to Palestine; we are working hard to achieve the dream of the Palestinian state hand in hand with the Palestinian society and its institutions.”

The Director of Local Economic Development at the Ministry of Local Governance, Mohy al-Din Al-A’rda, noted the role of the ministry in providing support and guidance for the developmental institutions in Palestine. Al-A’rda said, “The cooperation between the local institutions and the Ministry of Local Government is one of the key elements in our success so far; others being the financial stability of the local governing bodies, the ongoing encouragement of the local initiatives, and the cooperation of the local community in development planning and implementation.”

The General Manager of the Municipal Development and Lending Fund, Dr. Tawfiq H. Albudairi, affirmed the role that the fund plays in supporting the local development initiatives. Dr. Albudairi noted: “There needs to be a sufficient level of trust between the local governing bodies and their partners in order take on the role of a sustainable-development leader, as opposed to only an administrative service provider.”

The Head of the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities Office in Palestine (VNG International), Nasir Al-Sheikh, highlighted the role of international partners in supporting the local development process. He said, “International development partners will help us to implement a modern, advanced sustainable development model that has the ability to increase the skills and capabilities of the local bodies. We should also begin centralizing the local municipalities; it is one of the many things that will facilitate the transformation to local leaders of sustainable development.”

The Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration at Birzeit University, Dr. Mohammed Abu Zayed, provided a summary of the recommendations and advice regarding the local development in Palestine. Chief among the recommendations were: the adoption of sustainable development as a cornerstone of the strategy implemented by local institutions and bodies; the establishment of new partnerships with the relevant development agencies, and the enhancement of the current ones; and the full utilization of the funds provided by the Municipal Development and Lending Fund. Dr. Abu Zayed noted that the development of Palestine constitutes a powerful way of resisting the Israeli occupation.