PLATFORMA member associations from the Visegrád Group and from the Eastern Neighbourhood took part in the final conference of the project “New challenges for local governments – role of umbrella organizations in the development cooperation” on 12 and 13 April.
The 2-year project (2014–2016) “New challenges for local governments – role of umbrella organizations in the development cooperation” supported by the International Visegrád Fund
is focusing on environment, inter-municipal cooperation, capacity-building of associations, local public finance, urban and spatial planning, good local governance and citizen participation in policy formulation and implementation. It is gathering eight government associations from seven Visegrád group countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary) and three Eastern Neighbourhood countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). Out of these eight participating associations, five are PLATFORMA members: ZMOS (Slovakia), SMO ?R (Czech Republic), CALM (Moldova), AUC (Ukraine) and NALAG (Georgia).
“Decentralised cooperation is a unique way to achieve mutual learning and mutually beneficial results. It helps us tackling concrete, global problems, affecting us at home, through action abroad,” said Patrizio Fiorilli, Director of PLATFORMA, during the introductory session. Going along with examples he said: “If we struggle with polluted air at home, and we help a municipality abroad to limit the pollution, the air we all breathe will be cleaner.” He also linked decentralised cooperation with global challenges addressed in the Agenda 2030, the SDGs and Habitat III.
Boris Tonhauser, Executive adviser at PLATFORMA, was speaking in the session on possibilities of further cooperation beyond the project. He presented PLATFORMA’s planned activities in the Eastern Neighbourhood countries (within the Strategic Grant Agreement) and upcoming events including the CEMR Congress, the CUF Forum or the European Day of Local Solidarity.
Beata Jaczewska, Executive Director of the International Visegrád Fund, explained that the Fund is a financial instrument, established by four governments, “to support actors on the ground, who cooperate, linking our countries together.” “We want to take stock of this work done, make it available for the public and capitalise on the good results the Fund has achieved throughout more than a decade of its action,” she added.
During the conference, a memorandum was signed among the four Visegrád Group associations and the Eastern Neighbourhood associations. It aims at coordinating activities and positions of signatories, notably in dealing with international institutions, such as the Congress of local and regional authorities (Strasbourg) and CEMR, engaging in joint projects, allowing for a mutual transfer of information, know-how and experience, creating a database of innovative policies in the respective countries and supporting close cooperation with associations in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.