Over two hundred and fifty mayors, members of municipal governments and organisations, and experts gathered in the city of Fez to take part in the Second World Conference of Mayors of the SI on 5-6 October, hosted by our member party in Morocco, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP.
The Mayor of Fez, Abderrahim Filali Baba, opened the meeting by welcoming the delegates to Fez, an historic city of culture, knowledge, tolerance and humanism and hoped to share experiences of his city with the many mayors present. The Prime Minister of Morocco Abderrahman Youssoufi addressed the participants, emphasising that the values shared by social democrats of justice, freedom, solidarity, social equality, democracy and respect for human rights created the best conditions for true citizenship and for the work of the Conference. SI President Pierre Mauroy reflected that mayors and elected representatives of cities had much to contribute to the universality of the SI and the progression of ideas within it. Driss Basri, Minister of State of the Interior of Morocco, added his greetings and wished the participants well in their discussions. Jean-Claude van Cauwenberghe, Chair of the Association of European Socialist Mayors, then spoke linking the proceedings in Fez with those of the first SI World Conference of Mayors which was held in Bologna in 1995. Chair of the SI Committee of Local Authorities and leader of the Belgian Socialist Party, PS, Philippe Busquin, addressed the delegates on the concrete activities the Committee had been working on over the past three years and that it wished to promote at the meeting. Speaking on how the Conference fitted into the work of the International, SI Secretary General Luis Ayala reiterated the fact that local and regional politics was at the heart of what the SI is doing, and also at the core of what we passionately believe in.
In the second session delegates divided into three working groups. The first, chaired by the Mayor of Barcelona Joan Clos of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, discussed 'Globalisation and Solidarity: The role played by local authorities' and 'Cities in conflict'. The second working group focused on 'New partnerships: the State and local authorities' and was chaired by Marie Augustine Houangni Ambouroué, Mayor of Port-Gentil, of the Gabonese Party for Progress, PGP. The third working group, chaired by Ricardo Pascoe, representing the Mayor of Mexico City, from the Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD, took as its theme 'The future of cities: quality of life and the information society, the socialist response'. The deliberations of the three working groups resulted in the 'The Fez Declaration ' which was adopted by Conference at its closure. The Declaration set out four concrete proposals for the future. Firstly, the adoption of a Charter of the Local Authorities as a reaffirmation of ethical principles in public administration. Secondly, increased decentralised and interactive cooperation in practical forms such as democratic twinning. Thirdly, the creation of a network for the exchange of knowledge and experience for local government representatives. And finally, supporting the creation of a single international organisation of local authorities.