On June 25, 2019 a round table “Green urban development: from theory to practical actions” was held in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus. The focus was on a wide range of issues: the state urban planning policy in the development of smart and green cities, the experience of Belarusian cities in green urban plans developing, the promotion of green economy issues, energy efficient measures in implementing green urban development plans in small and medium cities, plans adaptation to climate change, other issues.

Opening the event, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, Boleslav Pirshtuk, noted that targeted work is currently underway to improve the legislation so that the state urban planning policy can focus on the development of smart and green cities.

“Belarus already has positive experience in this direction, in the development of renewable energy sources - this is wind energy, solar energy and biogas. Yes, the share is still small, but this is a clear vector, which the country adheres to in order to avoid using environmentally harmful energy sources,” said Boleslav Pirshtuk.

“The work of parliamentarians is extremely important in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as the happiness and well-being of people are central to your work. And the green agenda will become a reality if the Belarusian parliamentarians join the work on coordinating the green development of Belarusian cities,” said Alexander Solovieva, UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus. According to her, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Architecture and the Ministry of Economy, the Department of Energy Efficiency, and many other departments in the country contribute to the development of urban sustainability. “Therefore, today in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus we have the opportunity to discuss joint steps in this direction. UNDP will be happy to support these steps using both our international experience and promoting Belarus’s successful experience on international platforms,” concluded the UNDP Resident Representative.

Natalya Aleinikova, Head of the Department for Regulating the Impacts on the Air, Climate Change and Expertise of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said that there are currently proposals for placing 5 wind farms in Belarus, and the Ministry of Natural Resources is actively attracting investors in the field of wind energy. Natalya Aleinikova also reminded that over 45 Belarusian cities have already joined the Covenant of Mayors on climate and energy. They made voluntary commitments to develop their territories on the principles of sustainable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

The round table was held with the support of the GEF-UNDP «Belarus: Supporting Green Urban Development in Small and Medium-Sized Cities in Belarus» (“Green Cities”). The Project Manager Iryna Usava explained to the participants the concept of new documents developed for Belarus - Green Urban Development Plans for Polack, Navapolack and Navahrudak. The project is implementing technical measures in the field of sustainable transport in Navapolack and Polack and measures to improve energy efficiency in Navahrudak. A new direction the project is working on now is the development of the concept of smart and green neighborhoods.

Summing up the discussion that took place after the keynote speeches, Tatiana Kononchuk, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Ecology, Environment and Chernobyl Disaster, emphasized that any work on green development would be ineffective unless there were changes in the lifestyle of each citizen. She also noted that green urban development is a complex solution, which should involve the government, city administrations, businesses, NGOs, and, of course, the citizens themselves.

 

The round table was attended by deputies of the Standing Committee on Ecology, Environmental Management and the Chernobyl Disaster, representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Architecture and Construction, the Department of Energy Efficiency, international experts, representatives of city administrations who are signatories to the Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy.

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