In October 2014, the U.S. Department of State's Regional Environmental, Science and Technology, and Health (ESTH) Hub Office for Central and Eastern Europe partnered with the Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe to initiate a programme for developing Local Environmental and Energy Action Plans (LEAPs) by bringing together policy makers, businesses, academia and civil society leaders at the municipal level in selected cities in Ukraine. Three pilot partner municipalities of the Ukraine LEAPs project from western (Ivano-Frankivsk), central (Cherkasy) and eastern (Poltava) parts of Ukraine went through the process of developing their own LEAPs. Finalisation and implementation of priority actions of developed plans will be realised under the project "Local Initiatives for Sustainable Ukraine" (LINK), funded by the Norwegian government.
In order to further improve governance and continue tackling energy-related environmental issues in Ukraine, this project has been extended through March 2017. The project will focus on supporting two new local communities in Ukraine to improve environmental and energy planning, and on enhancing environmental investments in selected local communities. This will broaden the scope of activities under the initiative started by U.S. Department of State to improve environmental governance. The project will work closely with local authorities and key stakeholders in selected municipalities to set up working groups, to assist in assessing and prioritising sustainability issues, and to establish goals and targets needed for investment preparation and project financing. Partner communities will work together throughout the course of the project, and will attend project workshops held at each critical phase of the process. In addition, organised training sessions to educate and provide tools for stakeholders will complement the project acitivities, thus enabling smooth internal and external communication in addressing and resolving environmental and energy-related problems in the target municipalities.
The overall purpose of the project is to contribute to the democratisation of Ukrainian society by ensuring public participation in local decision making, improving local environmental and energy planning and resource management in Ukraine, and establishing effective communication between stakeholders to address and resolve environmental and energy-related problems. The project will also improve communication, understanding and cooperation between stakeholders, improve collective responsibility for the environment and energy-related issues, and enhance the knowledge of local authorities in terms of ways they can educate their citizens to be more conscious of energy efficiency and the environment.