26 September 2023
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Ukrainian municipal representatives trained in Danish municipalities and studied their experience
Ukrainian municipal representatives trained in Danish municipalities and studied their experience

Specialists from nine Ukrainian municipalities spent a week in the Danish municipality of Guldborgsund, where they completed an internship and got acquainted with its work.

Representatives of municipalities from the Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi Oblasts studied the experience of their Danish colleagues in managing a municipality and involving residents in municipal decision-making. The study visit programme included a review of various aspects of Guldborgsund municipality's work, such as municipal cooperation, spatial and strategic planning, administrative services, and energy efficiency measures.

The visit took place within the framework of the Bilateral Cooperation with Denmark initiative, which is an integral part of the Danish U-LEAD with Europe: Ukraine – Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development Programme.

"It is worth mentioning the great support of Ukraine and Ukrainians in Denmark in this challenging time for our country. We can feel it in every way: both in the presence of Ukrainian flags and in communication with municipal representatives. The powers of local self-governments in Ukraine and Denmark are very similar, and the challenges faced by Ukrainian municipalities have been previously overcome by the Danes, so our municipalities definitely have something to learn from their Danish colleagues. First of all, it concerns the management of education, pre-schools, cultural institutions, provision of quality administrative services, involvement of residents in decision-making, so this experience gained by the participants during the visit is very relevant to the powers of our municipalities," said Maksym Chopey, U-LEAD with Europe's Decentralisation and Local Self-government Adviser.

He added that specialists from Ukrainian municipalities had a chance to direct communication with their colleagues from Guldborgsund and learned about the challenges and achievements shared by the municipal representatives during the training sessions and case studies. This is the first visit to a Danish municipality, and further thematic internships in the area of business cooperation and experience in establishing inter-municipal cooperation are planned.

Studying the experience of municipal cooperation with the public sector is one of the key topics studied by the representatives of Ukrainian municipalities. There are 400 voluntary and non-governmental organisations in the municipality of Guldborgsund. The municipality prioritises supporting the public sector and young people, so they regularly inform NGOs and associations about funding opportunities and create conditions for their activities.

Denmark has a well-developed civil society, facilitated by the country's legislation and local self-government support. Municipalities encourage and cooperate with civic activists. For this purpose, Guldborgsund has introduced days when every association and NGO can present itself and its activities. This facilitates cooperation between organisations, municipalities, businesses and promotes the emergence of new associations.

"I was impressed with many aspects during the visit, but I would like to highlight a few that we can implement in Svalyava municipality. The use of renewable energy was of interest, as it is urgent for us. The Danish municipality is also implementing many projects for rural areas, including construction of recreation areas, sports grounds and other spaces. The approaches to the implementation of such projects are very impressive, as they actively involve the residents of the municipality in their planning and realisation, holding roundtables and discussing problematic issues," said Mykhailo Popovych, Deputy Head of Svalyava Municipality.

Municipal specialists studied municipality's performance in serving citizens and providing administrative services. It is interesting to note that the local ASC and the city library operate within one large public space.

The library has adult and children's sections, reading and computer areas. There is also a space for events and board gaming. Besides, there are STEM laboratories and rooms for creative activities and acquiring practical skills in various fields.

"I was impressed by the local self-government working system in Denmark. For the Halytska municipality, it would be desirable to borrow the approach to cooperation with the public sector, where the municipality implements many diverse projects. Besides, the level of spatial planning in the municipality is very high. We were able to get acquainted with a number of projects for one of the city squares and the harbour. Our municipality currently also focuses on updating its planning, so such an experience is really helpful for us," says Viktoriia Debenko, Deputy Head of the Halytska Municipality.

Another important focus of the study visit to Denmark was to strengthen the capacity of Ukrainian municipalities and get acquainted with local energy efficiency initiatives. The municipality has actively developed the green economy and promoted it among the population since 2017.

"Local self-government in Denmark has a long history of development, while in Ukraine our municipalities are just taking the first steps towards creating systemic solutions. It is impossible to build a strong state without a powerful local self-government. Such experience exchanges and the study of best practices enable our municipalities to improve the competence of their employees as well as strengthen their capacity," said Maksym Chopey.

Further, Ukrainian municipalities will take on the experience of Guldborgsund in inter-municipal cooperation and business partnership.

"The visit was beneficial for the municipalities that have already been cooperating with Guldborgsund online for two years, and now saw everything in person. They got acquainted with a number of best practices that operate in the Danish municipality. I am confident that much of what they have seen could be implemented in the future. In general, such visits have been rare in recent years due to the pandemic and the start of a full-scale war, but we hope they will intensify and become commonplace. Experience exchange and establishing cooperation are very important for successful development," summarised Mykola Syusko, Head of the U-LEAD with Europe Regional Office in the Zakarpattia Oblast.

It is worth reminding that cooperation with the Danish municipality of Guldborgsund, supported by the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, is being developed by the Horinchivska, Svalyava, Yasinyanska municipalities (Zakarpattia Oblast), Halytska, Horodenkivska, Dolyna municipalities (Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast) and Hlybotska, Novoselytska, Khotynska municipalities (Chernivtsi Oblast).

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