The European Union allocates more than 2 million euros for local initiatives on the development of small towns and rural areas of Belarus

Mar 14, 2017

European Union, UNDP in Belarus and the Ministry of Economy of Belarus announced the results of the Main Contest of Local Initiatives.

Over the next six months, 126 initiatives designed to improve the life of the Belarusian regions will be implemented in the country. This was made possible by holding the Main Contest of Local Initiatives, which took place in 30 pilot regions of Belarus in the framework of the EU-UNDP project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus". The results of the Contest were presented to journalists at a press conference that was held on 14 March 2017 in the National Press Center in Minsk.

352 applications were submitted for the Contest, of which 126 will receive funding from the European Union. In 30 pilot regions, the winning initiatives will involve 469 partner organizations. The implementation of local initiatives will have an impact on more than 1 million people residing in small towns and rural areas.

Since late 1990s state programs for regional development, including numerous tax preferences in various spheres, failed to generate sustainable effect in the regions.  Therefore, in recent years, the country has been working to introduce an Area-Based Development (ABD) approach to planning and managing the development of the territory. The ABD has been successfully tested and proved itself in many countries across Europe. The Contest of local initiatives is one of the main components of the implementation of this strategy within the framework of the project.

"We have limited resources, we cannot engage the entire country, so it is very important to select initiatives accurately,” said Ivan Belchik, the National Project Coordinator, the Head of the International Technical Assistance Department of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus. “But what is more important, is the creation of effective and sustainable partnerships, helping people to understand what needs to be done and encouraging them to do it locally. People understand this clearly when they see how others do it. Therefore, the results of an initiative should be available to as many people as possible."

Within the framework of the Contest, each pilot region will receive from 50,000 to 90,000 euros to address local challenges in accordance with their development priorities. The results of the project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus" will serve as a basis for the national and regional sustainable development plans.

In her address, Andrea Wictorin, Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Belarus, stressed that local development issues should be dealt locally.    

According to Zachary Taylor, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Belarus, to achieve successful economic growth and development of the country it is important to unlock the potential of partnerships between the authorities and local communities, and to connect resources with the best ideas.

For this reason, the executive committees of the pilot regions ran the Main Contest of Local Initiatives in accordance with the development priorities drawn up jointly by all stakeholders, including local authorities, the business community and non-profit organizations.

"We, as a donor organization, do not want to impose our decisions. We want to stimulate civic responsibility and accountable citizenship. It is demonstrated in the European Union experience: autonomous local authorities operate in close cooperation with business and citizens, " noted the Ambassador.    

The project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus" is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus.    

UNDP Press Office

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