In the framework of the Summit of the Francophonie that took place in Yerevan on 11-12 October, the United Nations Development Programme, the French Association of Rural Mayors and the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia, organized a joint event on Democratic and Inclusive Local Development. 

The joint event aimed at bringing together representatives of the local government from France and Armenia, exchange on positive practices, discuss commonalities and differences, generate networking opportunities and seek avenues for future cooperation between French and Armenian communities.

The occasion gathered 43 participants including French female and male mayors, Armenian male/female mayors, deputy mayors, local councilors and activists from different communities, journalists, UNDP experts and representatives from international organizations and agencies. H.E. Mr. Jonathan Lacôte, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, Vache Terteryan, First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, and Vanik Berberian Mayor of Gargilesse-Dampierre, President of the French Association of Rural Mayors joined the meeting and expressed strong support for partnership and networking between the French and Armenian local governments.

The one-day event presented two highlights:

-        A succession of two round tables on “What makes local governance democratic?” and “The role of the citizen in the economic and sustainable development of municipalities.” These round tables addressed different topics such as gender equality in local governance, the place of young people, the role of citizens in the local decision making, but also the role of new technologies in local democracy, environmental issues and economic development.

-        An informal meeting between French mayors and Armenian local politicians and activists. This networking event allowed an exchange of experiences between French mayors and beneficiaries of the UNDP Women in Local Democracy program. Testimonials of personal experiences, examples of how women initiated and led a change in their community, economic development activities, among other topics were discussed during this time of exchange.

The event generated vibrant debates and interesting dialogs where actual examples were presented and discussed. By the end of the day concrete opportunities for co-operation were identified and closer relations between French mayors and Armenian local representatives were established. This event is just the first step in a successful and fruitful UNDP-AMRF cooperation!

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