Before the Christmas holiday, Stephan Kooijman from the Economic Department of the Municipality of Haarlem went for the first time to Tunisia. We met just a couple of months ago during a study visit for our Tunisian project team during which we went to Haarlem, interested by their approach to citizen participation and local economic development. There, we were all captivated by their story and saw an immediate match with what we are currently doing in the 12 beneficiary municipalities in Tunisia: trying to bring municipal and private sector partners together for the economic development of their territory.
The mission of Stephan was to share the Haarlem experience and especially that of the upgrade of the Waardepolder industrial zone. From a polluted and unsafe area to an award-winning project and competitive industrial zone, that’s inspiring! It is what the IDEMA partner municipalities as well as their private sector partners found too, especially because it was a collaborative initiative. A collaboration between the municipality and the private sector. That is what you need if you want to boost your region!
After this inspiring session, it was time for the municipalities to get to the operationalisation of this idea. Therefore we had a first workshop with 6 municipalities in Tunis and a second in Sfax with the 6 others, where we went back to the basics with that question: what are your mission and vision as a municipality? Once they answered that, we moved on to what was needed to make this vision come true: a strategy. A strategy that does not just include big ideas but also what is needed, in terms of mobilisation of resources and instruments they already had as well as resources they would need.
Thinking about and writing down their vision and constructing a clear strategy to meet their ambitions was a very interesting exercise, the output of which they have all taken home to elaborate further and sit with the right partners around the table. To be continued!