Worldwide, local governments face an increasing demand from the growing urban population to provide basic infrastructure and services, promote more inclusive growth, adapt to climate change, and mitigate risks from disasters. Although development pathways differ because of regional and local variations, one consistent pattern has emerged: economic prosperity most often occurs in cities.
Cities can reduce poverty and expand individual and national prosperity. The bulk of economic activities take place in cities; urban centers attract business, trade and other service industries, and offer dense labor markets with the ability to move products over smaller distances, shortening the supply chain. However, cities in South-East Europe (SEE) do not yet harvest their full potential to contribute to economic prosperity and deliver better quality of life for their citizens. They face a number of challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, increasing global competition and financial instability. At the same time, cities have room for improvement: they can use their own resources more efficiently and also possess a huge potential for energy efficiency.
In order to address these challenges the World Bank and Government of Austria have partnered to launch the Urban Partnership Program (UPP) aimed to strengthen the capacity of local governments in South-East Europe, to promote city to city exchange and peer learning within and beyond Europe and to equip local elected officials, city administrators and technical staff with practical tools for decision-making, to effectively manage urban development for inclusive and sustainable growth. While global in scope, this Program is targeted at South-East Europe, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.