Interview of Yousef Alshawarbeh, Mayor of Amman

Dr. Yousef Alshawarbeh, Mayor of Ammann and member of the Secretary General’s Advisory Group on Local and Regional Governments granted the Global Cities Hub an interview, following his participation at the 3rd Forum of Mayors (2-3 October 2023, Geneva).

Read about the Mayor’s perspective on the international engagement of his city.

What you will bring back home from your experience in Geneva?

Valuable insights and knowledge on innovative urban solutions at the technical level, sustainable practices and urban regeneration from other cities and experts, and addressing global challenges through international cooperation, and networking opportunities with other mayors and city leaders. These experiences can contribute to the overall development and well-being of Amman city and its residents.

As Mayor of Amman, what is your main goal in terms of international cooperation?

As Mayor, I believe in the role of city leaders in positively influencing international agendas concerned with daily life in cities; my main goal is to promote Amman as a global city and establish strong partnerships. This would involve reinforcing collaborative efforts between individuals, cities, local governments associations and international city networks to extract useful lessons in peer learning in addressing global challenges to transform innovative ideas into opportunities and solutions to sustainable development. Moreover, establish references for measuring development cooperation performances among local governments (benchmarking). Additionally, I would aim to enhance diplomatic relations and engage in mutually beneficial initiatives to push efforts to implement the sustainable development goals that contribute to the overall development and well-being of Amman and its residents.

What are the priorities for Amman that are also addresses at the international level?

The Greater Amman Municipality realized the importance and need for transformation and development towards a resilient and sustainable future, and it was keen to contribute to the efforts of the international community to confront the challenges in the field of sustainable urban development, and to enhance progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030. We have developed and advanced a set of plans over the past years to address challenges and improve the quality of life, the most important of which are: the Amman Resilience Strategy, Amman Climate Change Plan, and Amman Green City Plan, and road map to a smart city. These plans complete each other set a comprehensive action plan that is reflected through Amman strategy 2022-2026, which put the human being (the city dweller – regardless of their legal status) at their center and developed within four main pillars that sets the priorities of Amman; the first is concerned with quality of life and the environment, the second is related to smart green transportation, traffic solutions and infrastructure, the third is investment, and finally the legislation.

What kind of benefits does Amman draw from your engagement at the international level?

Knowledge exchange and sharing best practices: Participating in international forums and networks allows Amman to learn from the experiences of other cities and share its own best practices. This can lead to innovative solutions, improved governance, amplified impact and outreach, and enhanced service delivery for our communities.

Addressing global challenges: International engagement provides opportunities to collaborate on global challenges such as climate change, urbanization, and sustainable development, by sharing experiences and working together, Amman can contribute to finding solutions and implementing effective policies. However, while this is a cooperation at the technical level as individual cities, for local governments to be able to properly contribute to global challenges, a structural dialogue has to be promoted between our constituency, as political actors, the UN and Member States. A dialogue where cities, collectively self-organized through city networks, have a formal and permanent sit at the table where multi-level governance is a core principle.

Diplomatic relations: Engaging at the international level can strengthen diplomatic ties and enhance Amman’s standing on the global stage. This can lead to increased multilevel cooperation, support for local initiatives, and potential partnerships in various fields.

Financing: engaging with on the international level and showcase the success stories of Amman contributed in exploring new financing opportunities. Further, getting to know the priorities of Amman and other cities in a more organized manner as a constituency would allow us, cities and local governments, to contribute with concrete, narrow, action-oriented recommendations to promote the reforms the international financial system needs in order to be fit for purpose for the achievement of the Global Agendas from the bottom up with enabling multilevel governance schemes and a renewed financial architecture.

All interventions undertaken by the Municipality of Amman aim to achieve sustainability for the city of Amman, and to contribute to national and international efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal No. 3 related to good health and well-being, Goal No. 11 related to sustainable cities and communities, and Goal No. 13 related to climate action. Goal 17: Partnership for Development.

Is Amman a member of international city networks? If ye, what do you value, most in these memberships?

Amman always plays a role model for other cities around the world, this was achieved by sharing our experience on different networks; this facilitate collaboration among network members and the sharing of knowledge, best practices and expertise allow for member cities to collaborate in a horizontal way through inter-city relationships based on mutual interest. This type of horizontal coordination is primarily for knowledge exchange and inter-city learning, but also fosters the creation of collective goals and provide a platform for showcasing Amman’s achievements, attracting investment, and promoting the city on the global stage. Among other city networks, Amman is an active member of UCLG-MEWA and UCLG, where the city sits at the World Council of the organization. These memberships provide a unique platform in multiple fronts. It allows the city to build the capacity of its officers through learning programs while exchanging practices with colleagues from other cities; it permits Amman to take part in international fora at the UN, such as the SDG Summit or the HLPF, gathered around the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional and Governments and facilitated by UCLG as a self-organized constituency aiming to accelerate the SDGs through localization and contribute to the renewal of the multilateral system as political actors with a transformative political vision that fosters inclusion and a people-centered perspective; and it facilitates to showcase the progress Amman is leading to localize the SDGs and push for further integration of local and regional governments within SDG monitoring through VNRs.

Does your national government consul you on any international issue?

We follow the objectives and commitment of national government with projects aligned with our strategies and priorities according to our needs and capacity, In another hand our outcomes reflected to national goals and commitments. That was reflected on the first local voluntary review which was launched, in conjunction with the second national voluntary review, is a unique opportunity for the Jordanian government to highlight the importance of urban development in Jordan and its essential role in achieving sustainable development. And to highlight the  extent of consistency between policies, programs and projects at the local and national levels and analyze the challenges and opportunities to raise the level of coherence and activate the wheel of development, which reflects the integration between plans at the local and national levels, determine urban development priorities, achieve compatibility between national and local efforts, overcome obstacles, and verify the quality and validity of data and the evidence used in both documents.

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