Joint initiative of UNDP and European cities and regions identifies cooperation opportunities with provinces and cities in Ecuador

May 9, 2014

The members of the mission with the provincial authorities in the province Esmeraldas (Ecuador). Photo: UNDP ART

A delegation of representatives from the cities of Barcelona, Bilbao, Milan and the region of the Basque Country visited Ecuador to begin a relationship of innovative territorial cooperation with Ecuadorean provinces and cities.

This mission is part of the initiative Innovation in Sustainable Territorial Partnerships (I – STEPS), which aims to strengthen opportunities for exchange of experiences and mutual benefit between the North and the South. The initiative operates within the UNDP ART Framework Programmes in several countries. Ecuador, Lebanon and Montenegro have been identified as pilot countries under the first phase of I-STEPS.

The Technical Secretariat for International Cooperation (SETECI) of Ecuador provided support for the coordination of the mission’s agenda and accompanied the delegation in various territories.

In Quito, the members of the mission met with national institutions to learn more about the national policy framework and priorities. The delegation then undertook joint field visits with Ecuadorian authorities to the provinces and joined practical workshops. Representatives of Autonomous Governments of El Oro, Carchi and Esmeraldas took part in a workshop on ‘Transformation and Opportunities’, where they presented their experiences in participatory planning and territorial organization.

During a trip the province of Esmeraldas, representatives of the European territories met the Provincial Government, the Academy and the Core Coordinating Group of Provincial Dialogue of the province to exchange about their experience in the field of planning and territorial articulation. Successful European and Ecuadorian initiatives and perspectives were compared.

The delegation members stressed the great work of articulation between the planning of the Ecuadorian provinces and the effort to promote citizen participation. In their view, this is an innovative endeavour aiming to create opportunities for mutual learning and technical exchange between territories. They also highlighted that socio-economic transformation of a territory is a process of continual reinvention. In this context, the exchange of experiences between the territories should be fruitful, built with concrete results and impacts, and lead to the establishment of a sustainable and sustained relationship over time.

The meetings held during the mission enabled both sides to identify common interests and priorities in the context of local economic development, and particularly the experiences of socio economic transformation of cities and regions. Special emphasis was placed on the transformation of territories, which would require actions in there complementary areas : the first one specialized in technical assistance and training; the second one specialized in local capacity building; and a third one focused on exchanges and links with North-South-South processes.

In follow-up to the visit, a process of dialogue and joint work will start through an exchange of experiences among the provinces of Carchi, Esmeraldas, El Oro and the Municipality of Cuenca on the one hand, and the Basque Country, the city of Bilbao, Barcelona, Milan and Marseille on the other. The main focus such exchange will be on local economic development issues, agro-industrial parks and technology centres, productive transformation processes and food processing experience. This dialogue will culminate in a seminar to be held in Barcelona on South-South and triangular cooperation.

Likewise, the opportunity to include in the process of exchange and transfer the city of Medellin in Colombia was raised. This city has a strong relation with the Municipality of Barcelona and is a clear example of a large urban centre that has successfully carried out a process of profound transformation. This is consistent with the approach of the South-South and triangular cooperation that ART promotes.

It is worth mentioning that the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID), the delegation of the European Union in Ecuador, the Italian Embassy and cooperation in the country and the Belgian Embassy expressed great interest not only in the initiative but also on the follow-up of its future development.