Step 2 - Identify partners and possible areas of cooperation

From Municipal Cooperation

Establishing IMC
PHASE 1: Initiating cooperation
PHASE 2: Establishing cooperation
PHASE 3: Implementing IMC
PHASE 4: Evaluating IMC

Once the municipality has identified the needs and opportunities that can be addressed/seized through IMC, the next step is to find a partner(s) by contacting neighbouring municipalities that may be faced with similar issues or may be interested in seizing any external financing opportunities. Preliminary informal meetings among top civil servants and top elected representatives of neighbouring municipalities are necessary. Their objective is to explore the general attitude towards the idea of establishing IMC.

As part of advance planning, the municipality should prepare a proposal outlining the anticipated benefits for each potential participant. The proposal should be provided to the potential partner(s) in advance of the meeting in order to give them the opportunity to consider their options. The discussions during the meeting should seek to clarify the following points:

  • Do the neighbouring municipalities share the same problems related to the performance of some municipal functions?
  • Are there needed services that are not provided by the municipalities?
  • What are the causes of the problems/lack of service?
  • Is IMC a possible solution?
  • Are there financing opportunities that the neighbouring municipalities could seize through IMC?
  • What is the list of areas where IMC could be seriously envisaged among the municipalities?
  • Would central government/regional authorities be in favour of/support the identified IMC areas of cooperation?

Provided that the informal phase mentioned above proves positive, executives of the concerned municipalities should organize a formal meeting among top municipal officials (mayors and/or their deputies). The meeting should consist of discussions on the possible benefits and costs of cooperation in the IMC areas discussed in the informal meeting mentioned above.

The outcome of this meeting should be:

  • The identification of the objectives of cooperation;
  • A tentative selection of one or several potential areas of cooperation to achieve the above objectives;
  • The decision to explore the possibility/feasibility of establishing IMC in these areas;
  • The identification of next steps.

Box 13: Clear objectives and realistic expectations are keys to success

Successful IMC and its sustainability ultimately depend on approval and commitment of all relevant actors. Therefore, it is important that all actors jointly agree on the objectives and overarching goals of their specific IMC project. The different expectations and interests of the partners must be clarified to avoid frustration and misunderstanding afterwards. In addition, an overarching goal can help to unite and motivate the different partners and overcome potential conflicts. In this regard, effective communication in the negotiation process will significantly contribute to establishing a mutually beneficial cooperation agreement with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. During this process, potential partners should be willing to acknowledge each party’s position and make concessions based on their needs and expectations

Source: Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (2002)