The 2015 Course for Sustainability "Resilience and Sustainability of Municipalities" kicked off on Monday, November 23, 2015, in Venice, Italy. The event was organised jointly by the REC and Venice International University (VIU) in the framework of the Sustainable Development Academy (SDA), an educational programme initiated and supported by the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS). The week-long training aims to support community efforts in Ukraine to address country-specific challenges related to sustainable development. The course will also transfer know-how from EU countries and employ innovative tools and methodologies to provide Ukrainian decision makers and high-level experts with resource management skills applicable at municipal level.
Mr. Salvatore d’Angelo, representing IMELS, opened the course, underlining how it constitutes an ideal opportunity to reinforce the successful, longstanding cooperation between IMELS and the partners reunited in the room. Italy is proud to support this event as well as additional actions that foster innovation, partnership, resilience and empowerment at local level to prepare communities to adapt to the progressive turbulence that crosses social, economic and environmental dimensions.
Ms. Marta Szigeti Bonifert, executive director of the REC, acknowledged the SDA as a capacity-building driver for attaining concrete results and for cementing partnerships across multiple regions. Ukraine, in the limelight of this year’s course, joined the REC family in 2012 and signed the organisation's international agreement in 2015. These steps, along with the presence of the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, H.E. Sergii Kurykin, at the opening session, signal the country's willingness and commitment to contribute to common environmental and sustainable values with other stakeholders and decision makers. Following Ms. Bonifert, Agar Brugiavini, dean of VIU, praised the SDA's firm roots and many facets that contribute to a functional and interdisciplinary approach to sustainability.
H.E. Sergii Kurykin welcomed the positive cooperation with the REC and called for the enhanced sharing of know-how and expertise in the realm of sustainable development across Ukraine. He pointed out how improving cooperation between central and local decision makers, and encouraging local-level actions, will help in identifying solutions to the increasing environmental impacts that urbanisation has wrought in Ukraine and beyond. Sustainable socioeconomic development is achievable only if environmental protection and climate change are integrated into policies and strategies.
Mr. Kenty Richardson, chair of the opening session and the REC's director of international relations and strategic development, thanked all the high-level speakers and urged participants to be proactive in order to get the maximum benefit from the training.