All five of the LINK project's beneficiary municipalities have made progress towards institutionalising cooperation with the REC. Three municipalities have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (Cherkasy, Ivano Frankivsk, Lubny), and two more (Poltava and Berdychiv) plan to sign in the near future. The LINK team visited all five municipalities between January 25th and 29th, 2016 to assess progress and to discuss further plans for joint work under the LINK project. Municipalities held local elections in October 2015, which provided a great opportunity for the LINK team to meet the representatives of newly established local administrations, each of which reaffirmed their commitment to LINK's successful implementation.
On January 25, the LINK team had a meeting with Mazur Vasyl, the Mayor of Berdychiv, and representatives of his team: Tamila Pavlishina, deputy mayor; Oleg Poviychuk, head of the Department of Housing and Utilities; and two more members of the local administration. The parties discussed the progress made towards institutionalising cooperation and signing the MoU, and also talked about LEAP adoption and upcoming project activities. An agreement was reached on the next steps to take, and relevant deadlines were set. Mayor Vasyl reconfirmed the readiness of the municipality to partner with the REC in implementing the LINK project, and also pledged to contribute to more efficient resource management and energy security.
On day two of the mission, January 26, the LINK team headed east and visited Poltava's team: Olga Borysenko, deputy mayor for economic and social issues; Volodymyr Volyk, head of the Department of Economy; Lyudmila Starodubova, head of the Department of Capital Investments and Social Issues; Olga Savchuk, head of the Department for Economic Development and Infrastructure; and Yury Holyk, head of the Public Council of Municipalities for Environmental Issues, and acting head of the Department of Applied Ecology and Natural Resources Use at Poltava National Polytechnic University. The teams discussed the MoU signing, appointment of local coordinators, and logistics for the upcoming training. An agreement was reached on finalising the administrative procedures needed to institutionalise the cooperation.
That same afternoon  the LINK team had a meeting with in Lubny with Oleksandr Hrytsayenko, Mayor of Lubny; Serhiy Lyovkin, director of the Communal Services Enterprise; and Alla Kysil, Ruslan Scherbakov and Oleksandr Schepar from the NGO 'Your World'. Lubny signed the MoU in October 2015, and the meeting was an opportunity to discuss details of the LESP development process. The Lubny team showed an interest in all activities of the LINK project, and looks forward to establishing the synergies with the other project components. This strategy will be explored further during a March 2016 training session and throughout the year.
On January 27,  the LINK team met with representatives of the local administration of the city of Cherkasy: Anatoliy Bondarenko, Mayor of Cherkasy; Stanislav Ovcharenko, deputy mayor for questions related to executive authorities' activity; Sergiy Ovcharenko, director of the Cherkasy Water Works Public Utility; Lesya Bogodaeva, head of the Department for Strategic Development; Bogdan Belov, deputy head of the Department of Economics and Development; and Timur Bashtaev and Lesya Korotkoshei, both from the Department for Economics and Development. The meeting drew the attention of local media and was attended by numerous representatives of the municipality. Mayor Bondarenko expressed an interest in active participation in the LINK project, and the teams discussed methods of cooperation, ideas for pilot projects, and ways in which the LINK project can help address the needs of the municipalities.
On January 29,  2016, the LINK team travelled to Ivano-Frankivsk to meet with Ruslan Martsynkiv, Mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk; Mykola Vitenko, first deputy mayor; Bohdan Bilyk, deputy mayor; Mykhailo Smushak, head of the Communal Services Department; and Olena Ivaniv, deputy head of the Communal Services Department. The team highlighted their interest in the training for project preparation, and in the procedure that is envisaged for applying for the pilot project funding. Several project ideas were discussed, and plans were drawn up related to a REC-organised capacity-building seminar, which will take place in March 2016.
REC experts Vira Demus and Zorica Korac introduced all five teams to the newest members of the LINK team: Hanna Korniyenko, regional coordinator; and Olexandra Khalaim, assistant to the regional coordinator. Hanna and Olexandra will support project implements by being in a constant and direct communication with the municipalities, the LINK team, and all project beneficiaries.