More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. With the increasing speed of urbanization and the effect of globalization, the roles, opportunities, responsibilities and areas of influence of cities are growing. In this “age of cities”, cities now operate in interaction with each other as global actors, establish sister city relationships, create international city networks, and develop thematic collaborations with many international stakeholders. Cities are actually the starting point of most of the global problems today, but they also play a key role in the solution of these problems. Moreover, they contribute to the establishment of a global culture of peace and coexistence. Hence, local diplomacy emerges as an approach that is different from traditional diplomacy but that also supports it. Local diplomacy utilizes many soft power elements as a tool, and pushes cities, implementation and result-oriented mechanisms, to the forefront at the global level.
Marmara Municipalities Union executes various activities to raise awareness about local diplomacy for the local governments in the Marmara Region, to lay the groundwork for information and experience sharing, to spread good practices and to create cooperation networks. The Local Diplomacy Platform consists of member municipalities' foreign relations representatives, and the platform encourages to use local diplomacy as an effective tool in developing a culture of cooperation, solidarity and dialogue with international stakeholders, building an international peace and reconciliation environment, and solving global problems with local implications such as climate change and migration.
MMU works to ensure that local diplomacy activities of municipalities comply with national policies and international conventions and to link them to the global agenda -especially the Sustainable Development Goals-, and to shape the national and international norms and agenda according to the demands and needs of municipalities. It organizes activities to support the work of local governments and reinforce their capacities in areas such as diplomacy and rules of protocol, access to international projects, competitions and funding appeals, participation in international meetings, sister city relations, relations with international city networks and organizations, public diplomacy, and project management.
Memberships to International Organizations
Association of European Border Regions (AEBR)
Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) established in 1971 and headquartered in Germany, aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation, to share knowledge and experience regarding the specific needs of border regions and to develop solutions to common problems. AEBR aims to represent the interests of border and cross-border regions before the relevant authorities at European level, to raise awareness of the special needs of border and cross-border regions, and to channel relevant information on cross-border cooperation. AEBR provides a common platform to coordinate and develop joint projects through Task Forces and specific partnerships, which consist of representatives from different countries. In addition to raising awareness of the specific needs of border regions, AEBR reports on new decisions and up-to-date information at European level and works to influence decisions. MMU has been a member of AEBR since 2023.
For more information on AEBR: www.aebr.eu
European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA)
ALDA was established in 1999 at the initiative of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and aims to promote good governance and citizen participation and improve cooperation between local authorities and civil society. ALDA has more than 350 members, including local authorities, associations of local authorities, and civil society organizations coming from more than 45 countries. MMU has been a member of ALDA since 2017.
For more information on ALDA: alda-europe.eu
Energy Cities was established in Brussels in 1990 with the aim of radically changing the energy policies and systems of European cities based on locality and sustainability, contributing to the efforts of ensuring that Europe becomes a climate-neutral continent by 2050, and recognizing local authorities as key players in the process of energy transformation. The network gathers more than 170 cities from 30 different countries under a single roof and carries out works encouraging the use of renewable energy and smart technologies that provide energy efficiency, and careful resource consumption. In addition, the network conducts advocacy and dialogue activities in the European Union and member states to increase the impact of local governments in the energy transition process. MMU has been a member of Energy Cities since 2023.
For more information on Energy Cities: energy-cities.eu
Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA)
The network was established in 2009 in Bonn, Germany by UN-Habitat and consists of water and sewerage administrations and other related organizations. The aim of the network, which includes nearly 500 members and partner organizations, is to assist water and sewerage administrations worldwide in providing quality services and supporting each other. In this context, GWOPA conducts capacity-building activities and promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience among its members. It provides tools and guidance to its members in research and development, reporting, and monitoring. It creates a platform for its members to develop international collaborations and follow global developments. The network contributes to the realization of the 6th Sustainable Development Goal, which focuses on access to clean water and sanitation. MMU has been a member of GWOPA since 2023.
For more information on GWOPA: gwopa.org
Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
ICLEI aims to create a rapidly developing urban life by considering sustainability ideals. The network includes over 2500 local and regional governments from 125 countries and was established in Toronto in 1990. ICLEI aims to influence the sustainability policies of its members and promote low-emission, nature-focused, fair, resilient, and circular development. ICLEI promotes connections between local and regional actors and brings together different sectors such as public institutions, international organizations, financial institutions, and NGOs through its events. Furthermore, ICLEI provides its members with opportunities to showcase their practices on global channels and represent them at global forums. MMU has been a member of ICLEI since 2023.
For more information on ICLEI: iclei.org
Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS)
NALAS, which is in close contact with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, is a non-political, independent, and multicultural network. Headquartered in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, NALAS contributes to increasing the capacities of local authorities in the region and works in accordance with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. NALAS consists of the local government associations (LGAs) of Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Türkiye (MMU). The Network brings together 13 Associations that represent roughly 9000 local authorities, directly elected by more than 80 million citizens of this region. MMU is actively involved in working groups and projects operating in various fields within NALAS and has been a member of NALAS since 2008.
For more information on NALAS: nalas.eu
Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC)
OICC is an international local government platform established in 1980 as an affiliate of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The members of OICC consist of the capitals and cities of Islamic countries all over the world. Its headquarters are in Mecca and Jeddah. MMU became the first Turkish local government platform to establish corporate partnership with the Arab and Islamic world with this membership. MMU has been an associate member of OICC since 2010.
For more information on OICC: oicc.org
Union of Turkish World Municipalities (TDBB)
Founded in Istanbul in 2003, TDBB has member municipalities and associations from Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Dagestan, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Moldova, Mongolia, Macedonia, Republic of Iraq, Republic of Kosovo, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Hungary, Kazakhstan. MMU has been a member of TDBB since 2010.
For more information on TDBB: tdbb.org
United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Regional Organization (UCLG-MEWA)
UCLG-MEWA is a regional local government association with over 200 members. The secretariat of UCLG-MEWA, one of the nine regional sections of the UCLG World Organization, the world’s largest local government association, is located in Istanbul, Türkiye. The International Union of Local Authorities Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Organization (IULA-EMME) was established in 1987 in Istanbul, as the regional unit of IULA, the world organization. IULA-EMME was transformed into UCLG-MEWA in 2004, parallel with the restructuring of the world organization. UCLG-MEWA aims to create cooperation between local governments in the region, to protect their values, goals and interests, and to bring the voice of local to the global. MMU has been a member of UCLG-MEWA since 2014 with the status of local government.
For more information on UCLG-MEWA: uclg-mewa.org