Road Map for Green Urban DevelopmentDec 22, 2017
To implement green urban development plans it is important to have broad support of the local population and the media. This idea was emphasized by the participants of the press breakfast, organized in Polotsk by the "Green Cities" project’s team for journalists from Polack and Navapolack-pilot cities of the project, as well as representatives of some republican media.
Opening the event, UNDP Project Coordinator for Communications Ruslan Khilkevich spoke about the "green" projects of UNDP in Belarus, through which the United Nations Development Program helps the government of the country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Most of the Goals have an environmental focus, and the goal of creating sustainable "green" cities is designated as Goal #11. Ruslan Khilkevich called on journalists to actively cover the activities of the “Green Cities” project, so that other cities in Belarus learn about its positive results and adopt the best practices introduced by the project.
Sergei Dmitrievich Leichenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Polack District Executive Committee noted that he was satisfied with the way the project started. In 2017, trainings and study tours were conducted for key project specialists who will implement the main activities. Sergey Dmitrievich noted that it is not worth “inventing a wheel”, it is quite enough to study the best European practices of green urban planning and adapt them for local needs. He spoke in detail about the forthcoming events-the re-equipment of public transport stops, the installation of information boards, the introduction of software for modeling road traffic, the expansion of the bicycle network. All will be done to ensure that residents choose comfortable travel around the city on public transport and bicycles, rather than on a personal car.
Albert Albertovich Shakel, Deputy Chairman of the Novopolotsk City Executive Committee noted that according to the latest research, despite the strong industrial factor in the region, road transport remains the main source of negative impact on the environment. Therefore, decisions in the field of urban mobility are very important for both cities. "However, first, it is not technical measures that are important, but changes in people's minds. Only in this way we will be able to achieve some results", stressed Albert Shakel.
Sergei Leichenko noted that there has already been some progress in this direction: "If recently bicycle parkings, which we organized near the enterprises, were empty, now there are no more vacant places."
The meeting noted the importance of involving the local population in the implementation of the project. "First, those who will benefit from this plan should be involved in green urban plans developing," said Vera Sysoyeva, national expert of the project on green urban planning. “We need the broad support of the local population. We will not just present the finalized product, we must involve local communities at the design stage, considering all wishes as widely as possible. And if we see that some ideas are obviously not supported, we simply will not include them into the plan. And here we are very much in need of media support, which can help us reach out to civil society representatives to involve them into this work."
The expert of the project, Polina Vardevanyan, also stressed the importance of studying public opinion: "After carrying out research among local communities, it may suddenly become clear that our cities are terra incognita for us. We can open our eyes to things we did not even think of. We can have innovative traffic lights, beautiful new electric buses, but a sudden downpour can cause flooding, wire breakage, etc. We must be able to calculate all possible risks. We must use an integrated complex approach, develop a kind of road map that differs from a traditional master plan of urban development".
The “Green Cities” project is aimed at developing green urban development plans and implementing pilot initiatives on energy efficiency and sustainable transport. It promotes low-carbon cities development, including equal mobility options for socially vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.
The “Green Cities” project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Development Program in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.Contact information