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27 October 2015, 12:06

EU to earmark €5m for Belarus-UNDP project on local initiatives

GOMEL, 27 October (BelTA) – Before the end of 2017 the European Union is expected to allocate €5 million for the implementation of the Belarus-UNDP project on the development of local initiatives, UNDP Deputy Permanent Representative in Belarus Yekaterina Paniklova told media ahead of the roundtable on sustainable social and economic development of the Chernobyl-hit regions scheduled for 27 October as part of the UN70 Express campaign in Gomel.

Belarus is currently implementing the UNDP/EU joint project “Support to Local Development” through 2017. The project financing is estimated at €5 million from the EU budget. “The main idea of the project is to develop a strategy for regional development and involve the public in the process. Not long ago we held a contest of local initiatives. Applications were received from more than 700 organizations, executive committees, and residents. The biggest part of applications came from Gomel Oblast. They pertained, first of all, to the projects enhancing the image of the regions and the creation of new jobs. We will give preference to ambitious and innovative initiatives that later can be adopted throughout the country,” said Yekaterina Paniklova.

In her words, in 2016 the UNDP will launch a new country program in Belarus, prepared in cooperation with the Belarusian government. The budget of the new program stands at $82 million. A part of the money will be invested in the development of the Chernobyl-hit regions. “We would like to see an active stance from local authorities and the public in the process of sustainable development. They should initiate different projects, including environmental ones, that envisage, first of all, the creation of new jobs and enhance the image of the regions. We also count on the development of a closer dialogue between the state and its people. We will discuss these issues during today's roundtable. In the future the UN Development Programme will support not one-day pilot projects but projects that can benefit people within the next 5-10 years,” UNDP Deputy Permanent Representative in Belarus Yekaterina Paniklova explained.

From the late 1990s to 2011 the UNDP implemented about seven large-scale projects and initiatives aimed at the development of the Chernobyl-hit regions. The budget of the projects totaled $20 million.

The roundtable with the participation of representatives of the United Nations, the Emergencies Ministry of Belarus, the Healthcare Ministry, the Economy Ministry, the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, and local authorities will feature reports on several topics, including those on the modern stage in mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, the efficient implementation of international projects in the contaminated areas, the involvement of the local population in the process of their rehabilitation and sustainable development. Apart from that, the participants of the UN70 Express initiative will hold a number of themed discussions, seminars, roundtables, exhibitions and concerts in Gomel. The focus will be on reducing inequality inside countries and between them.

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