PRESS RELEASE: Odessa hosts the international conference on transfer of Visegrad experience in regional development to Black Sea countries
On 21 February 2015, Odessa, Ukraine, hosted the final conference of the project ‘Black Sea Regional Development Network. Transfer of Visegrad Experience in Regional Development to Black Sea EaP Countries’, implemented with the support of the International Visegrad Fund www.visegradfund.org.
The conference was attended by international experts from the Visegrad countries – Czech Republic (Europeum Institute), Hungary (International Centre for Democratic Transition), Poland (Development Policy Foundation) and Slovakia (Pedal Consulting), representatives of government and civil society organizations from Georgia and Moldova, representatives of local authorities from southern regions of Ukraine (Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaiv oblasts) and non-governmental organizations working in the field of regional development. In general, more than 80 people were present at the conference.
BRD-NET project was held simultaneously in three Black Sea countries of the EU Eastern Partnership program – Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The main objective of the project was to spread the knowledge and skills on how to bring European expertise and financial resources to achieve the goals of regional development in small municipalities of the three countries.
A special feature of this project was to use the experience of Visegrad countries, which went through the process of profound transformation over the past 25 years, and gained valuable unique experience in various fields, including development of civil society, building partnerships between government, non-governmental organizations and business, implementation of European standards and values in work of state government bodies and local self-government.
In Ukraine, the project’s pilot partners included Balta (Odessa oblast), Voznesensk (Mykolaiv oblast), Hola Prystan, Henichesk and Nova Kakhovka (Kherson oblast). In Moldova, the project activities covered the municipalities of Tvardiţa, Anenii Noi and Cahul. In Georgia, the project worked with the towns of Terjola and Samtredia (Imereti region). The project was implemented by the Ukrainian Regional Development Centre ‘Top-Kaya’ in partnership with the Centre ‘Contact’ in Moldova and the Kutaisi Education Development and Employment Centre in Georgia.
In each of 10 pilot municipalities of the project, the Dialogues of Partners were organized – meetings of representatives of non-governmental organizations, local government and business that have identified and discussed topical local issues, as well as run partnership between different sectors to address and solve problems. During the Dialogues, Local Development Groups (LDG) were formed, who held 3-7 meetings for substantive analysis of local problems and finding solutions to them with the help of proposed methodology.
“In all the towns and countries, very similar problems and objectives to be pursued by the communities and local authorities were identified. It means that the developed approaches are equally applicable to all project participants, and also that it is necessary and beneficial to develop experience exchange, to establish partnership between regions and countries for solving urgent problems”, the project manager Oleksandra Tselishcheva stated.
In parallel with the work of LDGs, participants expanded their own knowledge of project proposal preparation through the online course developed by Ukrainian and Visegrad experts. The course included such important topics as problem analysis and correct objective formulation, strategy and logic of project proposal, calculation of resources and budget, implementation and monitoring of regional development projects. The concurrence of the online course and LDG meetings with participation of project experts, enabled participants to immediately apply their new theoretical knowledge in practice. Moreover, the results and recommendations of this work were summarized, and a brief manual on project proposal development was prepared.
Upon the completion of the online course, the most active participants were invited to training in Odessa, where they discussed the most difficult moments and got more recommendations.
“One of the most difficult issues in project design is the logical framework. At the training, I understood how to make the logframe correctly, but also realized that it is a really convenient and important tool for project development “, Eduard Rabinovich, Deputy Mayor of Balta, shared his impressions.
The conference in Odessa included workshops of Visegrad experts. They made presentations and Q&A sessions to speak about various topics of interest. Among them were approaches to attract European funding, expression of real needs in the formulation of problems and objectives of the project, advice and warnings with regard to project development and fundraising for projects, budget and project management. The topic of establishing and maintaining partnerships became the leitmotif of the conference.
“It is important to work together to promote your own interests, to unite people around you and not be afraid of expressing your real needs and capacities. Starting with a small project, you may gain the trust of partners and donors, get real-world experience of working with grants, and soon attract serious money to make the lives of people in your communities and countries better”, – repeatedly emphasized Annamária Kékesi, representative of ICDT, the Hungarian project partner.
One of the results of such a partnership is the recent award of two grants for the implementation of two small projects in Hola Prystan, Kherson region, this year. At the same time, each pilot town has already developed some ideas, and prepared some proposals as a result of the project. They firmly intend to implement ideas, also by building coalitions across different regions and countries. All of them wish to communicate and develop these ideas further on, with the help of the network and by using the opportunities of the portal www.brd-net.org, which was launched by the project.