Local authorities, CSOs LINKed together in Szentendre

March 10, 2016

Representatives of local authorities and CSOs from five Ukrainian municipalities successfully completed a three-day training organised under the LINK project, which was held on March 2-4, 2016 in Szentendre at the head office of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC). This initial training introduced the participants to the topic of Energy Security, and also provided an opportunity to discuss the steps of the LINK project, which is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. The five selected municipalities learned more about the local energy security action planning (LESAP), while for the CSOs the focus was on organisational development.

LET'S GET STARTED: Szigeti Bonifert (L) and Balian kick off the three-day training session.

The training started with warm greetings from Marta Szigeti Bonifert, Executive Director of the REC, and Raffi Balian, Regional Environmental, Science & Technology, and Health Attache for Central and Eastern Europe, U.S. Department of State. Through the tour de table, Vira Demus (REC) invited the participants to introduce themselves, and the joint session continued with greetings and a brief overview of the LINK project and the training programme from Radoje Lausevic, Deputy Executive Director and LINK project director.

Next, Prof. Neven Duic from University of Zagreb introduced the topic of energy security and explained the hard science behind it. Duic guided participants through the local dimension of energy security, and its main components were explored further during the preparation for local energy security action plans (LEAPs).

Viktor Karamushka from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy followed with some insight on local status of energy, and stressed the need for immediate actions directed at energy saving and introducing alternative energy sources in Ukraine.

The theoretical and practical framework provided in the first two sessions helped to stimulate the facilitated discussion that followed, which focused on tackling and overcoming challenges that Ukrainian cities are facing.

UkrLINKS3Training continued with an introduction to REC's LESAP methodology. Prof. Slobodan Milutinovic presented the initial steps of proposed methodology for preparing LESAPs, and pointed out specific issues to consider while preparing an initial assessment and scoping activities during LESAP preparation. REC expert Danko Aleksic led a session on stakeholder analysis and its inclusion in further processes of LESAP preparation and implementation. This theoretical part of the training concluded with a team exercise for municipal representatives.

In parallel, CSO representatives, with the support of REC's civil society support team and experts (Rodica Iordanov, Sergei Laboda, Natalia Semyvolos, Taras Tymchuk and Tamara Malkova), went through a series of presentations and discussions on organisational development and leadership issues.

After the first day's session, an evening Budapest sightseeing tour and dinner provided an excellent opportunity for informal communication between the participants.

UkrLINKS2Day two's intensive programme started with a summing up the day-one activities and continued from there with discussion about developing a public opinion poll for future LESAP preparation. Olena Ivaniv, Head of the Municipal Department for Economy and Reform, Ivano-Frankivsk, presented her experience with LEAP preparation, and outlined priorities and issues faced during the process.

One of the session breaks included a brief tour of the REC Conference Center. The impressive building is a showcase for net zero emissions, and offers good examples of state-of-art technologies, e.g. improved heat insulation, photovoltaic panels, heat pumps and automatic sliding blinds.

After the tour, Prof. Milutinovic guided the participants through the proposed methodology of LESAP preparation, and led a joint exercise between municipalities and CSOs. Participants worked together to identify problems, and later developed a set of activities and measures to address them. Participants also had the opportunity to see a demonstration from Agnes Kelemen, the topic of which was the 'Long-Range Energy Alternatives Planning System'.

An intensive day of training finished up with a boat trip Szentendre to Budapest that combined stunning views of the Danube River and generous Hungarian hospitality to warm up from the cold wind outside.

UkrLINKS4Day-three was reserved for discussion about the future plans under each of the three components of LINK project, with presentations from Zorica Korac, Tsvetelina Borissova Filipova and Kliment Mindjov (REC). In the last session, Oksana Volosko-Demkiv presented an overview of funding sources for infrastructure projects to the representatives of the municipalities. A detailed description of donor requirements for funding provided valuable information about LESAP implementation. In parallel, CSO representatives had the chance to visit the Energy Club (www.energiaklub.hu/en) and Impact HUB (https://budapest.impacthub.net) in Budapest.

After the training, local teams headed back to Ukraine to start work in their local communities.

Stay tuned!