RGD’s Regional Forum in Zaporizhzhia
On November 10, 2011 the RGD project convened a Regional Forum in Zaporizhzhia, entitled “Strong Regions, Strong National Economy - Charting Ukraine’s Roadmap for Regional Economic Development”, dedicated to advancing regional economic development (RED) in Ukraine. The forum attracted over 100 participants, including regional and national decision-makers, senior civil servants, private entrepreneurs and academics from across Ukraine, international and Canadian experts, CIDA representatives, RGD team members and experts. The event provided an opportunity to tap into international best practices, innovative tools and approaches, as well as knowledge on how to access relevant resources and networks in order to strengthen the economic potential of Ukraine’s regions. The forum showcased the lessons learned in formulating and implementing a full-cycle strategic planning process that was successfully piloted in Zaporizhzhia. Participants witnessed how Zaporizhzhia’s strategic planning process has allowed the region to leverage funding for strategic priority projects from local, national and international sources, thus advancing their regional development agenda.
The event began with presentations and dissemination of joint successful experiences of the RGD project and the Zaporizhzhia OSA in the development and implementation of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Development Strategy till 2015. Iryna Lekh, RGD Expert, presented the stages of designing the Zaporizhzhia Regional Development Strategy. She highlighted the fact that Zaporizhzhia is the only oblast in Ukraine that has completed a full cycle of strategic planning process – from identifying the vision and mission to monitoring and evaluating the strategy implementation. She also emphasized that when regions begin to develop strategic plans, they should establish a special unit within the state administration, which would be responsible for leading the whole strategic planning cycle, while taking into account gender, social and environmental aspects.
Petro Honcharuk, Deputy Head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast State Administration (OSA), presented the development and implementation of the monitoring system of Zaporizhzhia Regional Development Strategy till 2015. He described the process that OSA representatives in cooperation with RGD experts have embarked on in introducing a monitoring and evaluation system to monitor the strategy implementation. Oblast community members are now able to participate in the process by monitoring the implementation of priority objectives in oblast development via an online website created by the OSA for public awareness and participation.
Duncan Leitch, RGD International Expert from the UK, presented the importance of RGD’s work during the project implementation in Zaporizhzhia oblast. He highlighted that civil servants were trained to design their practical projects in line with international standards, and then search for required financing to implement the developed projects. Mr. Leitch emphasized that the best possible results were achieved through such training because participants were learning by doing, and he encouraged the forum participants to continue to apply the successful experiences and lessons learned in their work or training. For Ukraine, regional economic development is not just one among many targets, it is a key priority turned into a pressing need by the global economic downturn. That is why RGD’s practical experience in introducing competitive regional development models will contribute to the sustainable economic growth in Ukraine.
Following the morning session, keynote speakers Mike Murray, Chief Administrative Officer, Region of Waterloo, Ontario and Ty Shattuck, President and CEO of PV Labs, presented best practices from Canada in the field of community development and knowledge-based regional economic growth. Ukrainian and international specialists had an opportunity to discuss possible ways of promoting new regional economic development models.
Andrew Farncombe, Vice President, International Partnerships, CUI, congratulated the participants for being part of such a successful event. He emphasized the impressive results that have been achieved by the joint efforts of Canadian and Ukrainian experts in regional strategic planning implemented with RGD project support. Mr. Farncombe underlined that the main objective of the forum was to emphasize results of RGD’s successful activities, to focus on ensuring sustainability of these results and to disseminate projects’ best practices. He stressed that the Zaporizhzhia model in strategic planning and implementation is of great significance for all Ukrainian regions. Although RGD wraps up its pilot activities in Zaporizhzhia oblast, it continues its work in Ukraine and proceeds to the next stage in supporting programs in regional economic development. Adrian Walraven, Chief of Operations of the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine, noted how impressed he was with the results achieved in the last six years of the RGD Project. The activities in Zaporizhzhia oblast have highlighted the leadership role of the Zaporizhzhia oblast state administration. He emphasized that the RGD project was very fortunate to partner with highly-motivated senior officials who were supportive at all stages of the strategic planning process within the oblast.