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How the Marmara Municipalities Union is boosting local expertise by partnering up with towns

From pandemic management to sustainable development, local governments need to share expertise if they are to successfully tackle the challenges of today.

That’s why the Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) in Turkey created the MENTOR Programme in July 2020. The initiative enables inter-municipal cooperation and the development of municipalities’ capacities and municipal employees’ competencies. 

The MENTOR Programme provides municipalities with an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others within their own limits in terms of financial and human resources. Municipal staff who need expertise in a particular topic are matched with staff from another municipality that is already experienced in that area.

Municipalities seeking and offering indicate their interest by filling out online forms. The MMU then matches municipalities and sets up online or face-to-face meetings between municipal staff.

Following the first meetings, municipalities can either keep up the communication on their own or ask MMU to maintain its coordinating role. The municipalities can also request staff exchange with their counterparts if useful.

The MENTOR programme gathers and shares expertise in all thematic areas relevant to municipalities, including planning, transportation, disaster management, financial affairs, migration, environmental management, localisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), institutional procedures, human resources and so on.

As part of this, MMU is thus building a pool of experts who can be consulted whenever needed.

Having started among MMU member municipalities, the programme has expanded to enable international cooperation. Members of MMU can now be matched with their peers in Turkey or foreign countries.

As of August 2022, 24 meetings have been held as part of the MENTOR Programme. These meetings have increased municipal staff’s knowledge on different subjects, contributed to capacity building and fostered inter-municipal relationships.

The programme has also resulted in concrete outcomes. For instance, two mentee municipalities, who sought expertise on Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) on the localisation of the SDGs, have since begun preparing their VLRs.

The programme contributes primarily to SDG 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities” by empowering the local governments to build more sustainable cities by increasing the capacities of their staff and SDG 17 “Partnerships for the Goals” by encouraging the exchange of knowledge and experience as well as cooperation between local governments.