The board of the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF), or International Association of Francophone Mayors, kicked off its 75th meeting in Vientiane yesterday to review recent activities and discuss future plans.

The four-day meeting is part of preparations for the AIMF’s next annual General Assembly, which is scheduled to take place in November in Paris, France.

Vientiane Mayor Soukanh Mahalath delivered a welcome speech, saying he was delighted to have worked with counterparts from other AIMF member countries to develop the group.

“It is a great honour to have worked and studied policy with all of you to develop and uplift the profile of the AIMF in the international arena,” he told the meeting.

“It is also my privilege to work together with other francophone mayors with regard to learning new lessons and best practices in this era of globalisation as well as the opening up of initiatives.”

AIMF President Bertrand Delanoe, who is the Mayor of Paris, and members of the board were among those in attendance.

Mr Soukanh said the AIMF has played an important role in the world arena, especially in terms of sharing lessons regarding urban development among cities in developed and developing countries.

The Lao mayor urged the meeting to provide further assistance to Vientiane, including for the treatment of polluted water and the preservation of heritage sites.

Lao officials attending the meeting said the proposals discussed will be heard and considered at the General Assembly in November.

Vientiane joined the AIMF in 1992. The association has significantly contributed to the development of Vientiane through the provision of 719,000 euros in total, with a focus on the construction and improvement of waterworks.

The beneficiaries are some 17,000 Vientiane residents, who now have access to a water supply. One result of this cooperation is that Vientiane Secondary School has launched French-language courses.

Talks on various topics are scheduled to take place during the four-day meeting, including preservation of the city’s heritage, assessment of the development impact on heritage preservation, and local authorities’ vision for the future of town planning.

Today, the delegation is scheduled to visit Laos’ first World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang and get acquainted with the problems faced by a town with this status and how they are managed.

The AIMF was set up in 1979 under the aegis of the then Mayors of Paris, Jacques Chirac, and Quebec, Jean Pelletier.

AIMF gathered 253 territorial collectivities and associations of territorial collectivities of some 50 countries where French is the main language or is spoken by a significant number of people. Those countries are members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

AIMF members share the same values, such as strengthening the role of women in the decision-making process, supporting integrated local development with the participation of local and state authorities as well as traditional authorities, civil societies and universities.

They help one another to better manage their localities. They implement exchanges of experience and expertise, focusing on South-South exchanges and they help in the financing of development projects. They also promote governance with people’s participation and the strengthening of the leadership of elected people in localities.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 4, 2013)