South East Europe National Pilot Projects (Local Development)
The LDPP overall objective is to help national, regional and local institutions to identify the long-term social and economic development potential of the territory, based on the enhancement of natural and cultural heritage.
The LDPP approach allows the testing of specific alternative development models and the setting up of the relevant institutional and legislative framework that determines regional policies and decentralisation mechanisms. The specific objectives are the following:
To conceive a local development project for the region;
To implement an innovative, participative approach, involving local human resources, in order to conceive and manage the long term development project of the territory;
To improve and develop capacities for a sustainable management of the territory;
To adopt a Territory Charter, defining the broad guidelines and strategies for the development and upgrading of the territory, and the operational programme needed to achieve this.
Relevance of the project to the objectives and priorities of the country
The Strandja region, which has suffered from restricted access for a number of decades due to the proximity of the state border and its military status, is one of the poorest and most undeveloped regions in Bulgaria. The process of depopulation is the main social problem which is becoming increasingly acute. The population faces permanent difficulties in finding jobs, earning their living, starting small businesses and finding markets for its production and services. The result is that most of the people are discouraged and need incentives to be able to take initiatives and to start contributing themselves to the economic development of the region.
The availability of the cultural and natural resources give reasons to recommend the implementation of a pro-active development strategy, to attract new investments, the development of new programmes and the absorption of the potential of available human and natural resources. A sustainable and balanced economy would also develop social welfare, based on the strategic geographical location as an outlet on the Black Sea, at the border with the Republic of Turkey, and at a transport junction close to the East Balkan Mountains. Furthermore, traditions in tourism, the manufacturing industry and agriculture are also meant to be promoted.
Identification of perceived needs and constraints in the pilot region
The LDPP offers the Bulgarian national institutions and local authorities the possibility to improve their synergies and to promote modern policies for development, targeting primarily the rural areas with a strong cultural identity and economic potential.
The pilot project is a challenge not only for the direct benefit of the Strandja region and its inhabitants, but also for looking at new development models, based on the promotion of heritage as a key notion at the heart of local initiatives and a major factor for social and economic development. Responding to the national priorities of Bulgaria, the LDPP is designed in relation to matters of direct concern to the public authorities. Therefore, it helps to amend existing policies, making State and local authority practices more effective by directly influencing the legislative and regulatory framework, while reinforcing the role of the local population and civil society in the decision-making process.
Partners and final beneficiaries
The Ministries responsible for social and economic sustainable development in Bulgaria (Ministry of Culture; Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works; Ministry of Environment and Waters; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finances; Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications; Ministry of Economic, Energy and Tourism; Ministry of Education, Youth and Science; Ministry of Agriculture and Nutrition);
The three municipalities on whose territories the Pilot Project is being implemented (Malko Tarnovo, Sredets and Tsarevo);
NGOs, cultural organisations, other social institutions and business organisations and SMEs.
State of Progress
A Project Implementation Unit has been established in the pilot territory, composed of a Project Manager and an assistant Project Manager who implement the project;
The local population could be mobilised through several Pilot Actions and their awareness raised about the value of cultural and natural heritage as a resource for a more sustainable socio-economic development;
A logo has been designed for a better promotion of the Local Development Pilot Project with national and local partners;
The achievements and synergies at local level have helped to mobilise the national partners to convince them to join the project, appropriate it and renew their political commitments;
Negotiations and discussions are currently being held with potential partners to convince them to join the project.
The missing management structures at national level such as the Inter-ministerial Commission and the Steering Committee are going to be set up and become operational;
The Project Coordinator has to be officially designated as such by the Ministry of Culture;
The Memorandum of Understanding and the Terms of Reference can be signed by the different partners so that the preliminary phase can be finalised;
Once the national partners are convinced about joining the project, an Inter-ministerial Expert Group can be launched in order to investigate the impact to be gained for each partner through the implementation of the Local Development Pilot Project in the pilot territory;
A leaflet will be published on the pilot territory and translated into English for a better promotion of the Strandja Local Development Pilot Project;
Thematic working groups will be launched to elaborate the Territorial Diagnosis as a shared and integrated assessment of the socio-economic situation of the region, reflecting the collective global transversal vision of the area by its population.