In an effort to support the implementation of a sustainable community development standard with two pilot communities in Côte d’Ivoire, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – through its public-private partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Standards Alliance, and in partnership with the Ivorian Directorate General for Decentralization and Local Development (DGDDL) – organized a two-day training activity in Port Bouët, Côte d’Ivoire, on August 17-18, 2021. The event was the fourth and final workshop in the pilot program.
During the year-long pilot program, Standards Alliance experts and DGDDL worked together to support the pilot communities of Port Bouët and Yopougon in their understanding and development of five-year sustainable community development strategies. After studying the standard and developing their community strategies, the communities used the final workshop to prepare for implementation and continual review of their progress following the process outlined in the International Standard, ISO 37101, Sustainable Development In Communities - Management System For Sustainable Development - Requirements With Guidance For Use.
The government of Côte d'Ivoire has recognized ISO 37101 as a method to support decentralized community planning, and as a solution to enhance economic, environmental, and cultural development across the country. Based on the training series, which first launched in 2019, DGDDL will monitor progress in the pilot communities and begin training an additional 10 communities on this standard. The progressive approach will guide national policies and will empower municipalities to become more active participants in local and most sustainable city planning while enhancing U.S. – Ivorian relations.
Demonstrating high-level support for the program, a number of dignitaries participated in the event. These representatives included the U.S. Ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire, Richard Bell; the Ivorian the Minister of Security and Civil Protection, General Vagondo Diomande; a representative of the Ivorian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, M. Jean-Luc Assi; the Mayor of Port-Bouet, M. Sylvestre Emmou; the Deputy Mayor Yopougon on behalf of the Mayor, M. Gilvert Koné Kafana; and the USAID Acting Country Representative, Stephen Menard.
Following the opening session, in accordance with COVID-19 precautions and national guidelines, two U.S. experts representing Eurasia Environmental Associates, LLC and Urbanable Greenovations, LLC – Tim Van Epp and Dr. Vatsal Bhatt, respectively – presented to more than 70 Ivorian participants at the Port Bouët town hall. Mr. Van Epp and Dr. Bhatt are members of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 268, Sustainable cities and communities, and facilitated the first three workshops as well as an inaugural training for DGDDL staff between September 2020 and May 2021.
Based on lessons learned during the program, each community delivered a presentation outlining their management system for sustainable development strategies. Dr. Bhatt and Mr. Van Epp shared feedback on the presentations and added to the proposed strategies to support further development of each community's sustainable development strategy, outlining future areas of work and collaboration.
Both Port-Bouët and Yopougon demonstrated tremendous progress during this workshop, with both communities having prepared robust strategies that will serve as the foundation for the implementation of their local sustainable development strategies. This impressive effort highlights the enthusiasm of each community as they work towards ISO 37101 implementation and their willingness to engage thoroughly with the subject matter. In addition to DGDDL, USAID, and ANSI, participating entities included observers from communities surrounding the economic capital of Abidjan.
Following the event, DGDDL committed to coordinate the establishment of ISO 37101 planning committees for each community that participated as an observer throughout the series. This will include the development of 10 new planning committees that have learned from the pilot communities’ efforts to develop their own community development strategies.
The objectives of this technical assistance align with U.S. climate change priorities while fostering U.S. and Ivoirian collaboration and trade facilitation. It ensures sustainable development at the community level and encourages the adoption of international standards on energy efficiency, environmental management, greenhouse gas emissions, waste water management, and other sectors. By helping to create a more predictable business environment, the pilot program will support market confidence and increase U.S.-Ivorian trading opportunities.
Held in coordination with Côte d’Ivoire’s DGDDL, this workshop series builds on past Standards Alliance activities. Following an initial training in 2019, ANSI and DGDDL signed a cooperative Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work toward greater cooperation on standards and conformance-related issues between the U.S. and Côte d’Ivoire. The cooperative agreement builds on ANSI’s existing partnership with the Ivorian standards body, CODINORM, and paved the way for the development of the Standards Alliance pilot project to support the decentralization of city planning in Côte d’Ivoire.
About the Standards Alliance and Trade Africa
The Standards Alliance was announced by USAID in November 2012 as a new funding facility designed to provide capacity-building assistance to developing countries, specifically related to implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. The main objectives of the program include:
Trade Africa was an initiative between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa that was initiated in 2013 with countries of the East African Community to increase continental and regional trade within Africa, and to expand trade and economic ties among the Unites States, Africa, and other global markets. In 2014, the Trade Africa Initiative expanded to involve new partners, including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zambia. In support of Trade Africa, the Standards Alliance partnered with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zambia to improve compliance with the WTO rules on trade facilitation and technical barriers to trade.
For more information on the Standards Alliance and for information on how to get involved in Standards Alliance activities with West Africa, visit the Standards Alliance web page.