South East Europe National Pilot Projects (Local Development)
"The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
Debar and Reka Region
The LDPP’s overall objective is to help national, regional and local institutions to test the long-term social and economic development potential of the territory, based on the enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage.
The LDPP approach will allow the testing of specific alternative development models and the setting up of the relevant institutional and legislative frameworks that determine regional policies and decentralisation mechanisms. With this in mind, the specific objectives are the following:
To conceive a joint local development project for the region based on natural and cultural heritage;
To test an innovative approach to participation principles, to involve local human resources for drawing up and managing the long-term development project of the territory;
To improve and develop capacities for sustainable management of the stakeholders 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 that will enable these to be achieved;
To harmonize the legal regulations in the field of protecting cultural and natural heritage at national and local level;
To foster cooperation and partnerships between the government, the local authorities and private interests in order to encourage development.
Relevance of the project to the objectives and priorities of the country
The Debar and Reka Region covers the territory of the municipalities of Debar and Mavrovo and Rostusha in the north-western part of the country, on the border with Albania. The territory of the municipality of Debar is comprised of the Debar Field, between the slopes of the Deshat mountain, the Debar Lake and the valley of the Crn Drim river. The biggest socio-economic problem that the municipalities face is the intensive migration towards other regions and abroad, especially to Italy, combined with high unemployment due to low economic activity.
The region is characterized by the richness of its cultural and natural heritage. The cultural heritage comprises churches and mosques, a witness to the religious diversity of the area, memorial houses, rural settlements with typical rural houses and characteristic traditional houses in the town of Debar. The natural heritage consists of natural monuments and protected areas, such as the Mavrovo National Park. This rich cultural and natural heritage represents an asset for local development. The project therefore explores new approaches and methods in local and regional development, based on multi-sectoral cooperation and the active participation of all stakeholders involved in the development process of the territory. Particular attention is given to an integrated approach in sustainable development, based on democratic principles, social cohesion, dialogue and mutual understanding between cultural communities.
The LDPP approach should help to identify strategies for preventing further emigration and depopulation of the region – by constructing new commercial facilities, creating jobs, encouraging the development of agriculture and cattle breeding, facilitating the production of dairy products and organic food, improving the road infrastructure and links with the main roads of the country, establishing tourist facilities, especially the development of cultural and rural tourism, raising the awareness of the population about protecting cultural and natural heritage, as well as its potential for use in tourism activities.
Identification of perceived needs and constraints in the pilot region
The final aim of the pilot project meets the priorities of the Regional Development Plans, District and Communal Plans. The long-term historic relations of inter-cultural dialogue, the exchange of ideas, beliefs, knowledge and skills have been favourable for establishing a unique culture in the region, which deserves to be preserved, encouraged to develop and which should become accessible to all.
The cultural and natural heritage is an important resource, which could serve as a basis for an integrated project, to be used, among other things, for regional regeneration. Based on the principles of the Council of Europe, the current implementation of the Local Development Pilot Project demonstrates a new level of recognition regarding the potential of heritage.
Partners and final beneficiaries
The Ministries concerned with the social and economic sustainable development in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”: Ministry of Culture (National Conservation Centre, Skopje), Ministry of Local Self-Government, Ministry of Economy (Office of Tourism), Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (Office of the Environment), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Supply, and Mavrovo National Park;
The two municipalities on whose territories the Pilot Project is being implemented (Mavrovo and Rostusha, Debar);
NGOs, cultural organisations, other social institutions, business organisations and SMEs.
State of Progress
The establishment of an Inter-ministerial Commission has been decided by the government;
National partners have been mobilised to join the project so that an Inter-ministerial Expert Group could be launched;
Brochures have been published and translated into English for increased promotion of the Debar and Reka
Local Development Pilot Project;
The local population could be mobilised through the
pre-diagnosis mission as well as through several pilot
actions such as the design of a logo, chosen from
drawings by primary school children.
An Inter-ministerial Expert Group has been launched to investigate the impact to be gained by each partner through the implementation of the Local Development Pilot Project in the pilot territory;
A meeting of the Inter-ministerial Commission is organised to gain the political commitment and appropriation of the project by the different political partners;
The Memorandum of Understanding has to be signed by the different partners;
The Steering Committee will be set up and members appointed;
The Project Implementation Unit has to be established so that the Local Development Pilot Project can be implemented at local level;
A Project Manager is appointed for the launching of thematic working groups, with a view to drawing up a Territorial Diagnosis as a collective global vision for the region of Debar and Mavrovo.