At the invitation of the National City Forum, UCLG Africa took part in the 4thforum congress held in Meknes and Fes, Morocco, on the 21 and 22 May 2016, on the theme «Historical Cities, Patrimonialization, and International Cooperation”.
The meeting witnessed the participation of the Minister of Habitat and Urban Policy, the President of the Fes-Meknes regional council, Meknes and Fes Governors, the Ambassador of Brazil in Morocco, representatives of the National Human Rights Council and the Moroccan diaspora, locally Elected officials, civil society actors, architects-urban planners and the academia (professors, researchers, and students).
The highlight of the first part of the congress (Meknes, 21 May 2016) was the official opening of the proceedings during which, the President of the forum, Mustapha Merizak, reminded the goals and interests of this 4thcongress. The officials congratulated the organizers and encouraged them to carry on this reflection around the cultural heritage in Morocco. The introductory conference moderated by Pr. Saïd Mouline took stock of 35 years of Patrimonialization in Morocco that translates into a classification and an effort of valorization of the cultural and natural heritage.
The following statements further analyzed the different components of the historical heritage of cities in Morocco (architecture, Medinas, Mellas, know-how…) while evoking case studies illustrating the dangers lurking the sites, neighborhoods and old towns. The issue of funding the historical cities’ protection was brought up by the representative of UCLG Africa Secretary General, Mr. Lionel NZAMBA- NZAMBA. His statement called for a discussion with the participants on ways and means to sustainably ensure the funding of the protection of historical cities on national and international levels.
The second part of the proceedings continued on 22 May in Fes, a historical city like Meknes ranked as UNESCO World Heritage. The speakers addressed the impact of migration on the city and the shared heritage of historical cities (Tetouan, Tangiers…). They recalled that migration is a building fact of the city and this throughout history. The discussions highlighted the necessity of engaging the city in the production of the urban policy and the need to make decentralization effective by granting a real financial autonomy to cities. Participants also exchanged on best practices by promoting more participatory and inclusive processes and policies especially towards foreigners, women, and youth (Brazil, France, Bolivia).
The 4th congress of the National City Forum concluded by the presentation of the proceedings summary by Mr. Abdelfattah EZZINE (National City Forum scientific coordinator). He briefly underscored the challenges and expectations of the forum specifically the contribution to the COP22 of Marrakech on November 2016 and the volition to reinforce the partnership ties with UCLG Africa on issues of migration and capacity building of the locally elected of Africa.