AWARD FOR BEST PRACTICE IN INTER-MUNICIPAL COOPERATION GIVEN TO THE VARDAR PLANNING REGION’S DEVELOPMENT NETWORK
The Network for the Inclusive Development of the Vardar Planning Region was presented with an award of fifteen thousand US dollars by the Ministry of Local Self-Government.
On behalf of the Network, the mayors of Veles and Demir Kapija, Slavco Cadiev and Trajce Dimitriev, announced that the funds will be used to create an internet portal for the Vardar Planning Region SMEs and to develop an e-guide for investors – with the aim to provide further support for the private sector in the region and foster local and regional competitiveness.
“This award recognizes the Network’s exemplary achievements in inter-municipal cooperation—cooperation that has contributed significantly to regional development and economic growth, setting a model of best practices for others to follow”, stated UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Alessandro Fracassetti, adding that “This form of Inter-municipal cooperation has already proven to be a driver for mobilizing resources, boosting development and increasing social inclusion.”
First officially established in November 2013 with the support of UNDP and the Ministry of Local Self-Government, the Network of eight municipalities in the Vardar Planning Region aims to create conditions for the development of a strong, sustainable and competitive economy—generating greater opportunities for improving social and environmental standards.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the Minister for Local Self-Government, Lirim Shabani, praised the Network’s achievements, saying “The Vardar Network is a highly innovative and highly successful form of inter-municipal cooperation for supporting the private sector and promoting balanced and inclusive development throughout the region.”
The Network’s Programme for the period 2014–16 consists of 26 projects designed to address the key socio-economic challenges facing the Region—challenges including insufficient local services, high levels of unemployment and large-scale economic migration.
In the seven months since it was established, the eight municipalities of the Network have been jointly implementing four projects aimed at raising standards in the delivery of local services.
Amongst the key achievements of these projects, the Network has facilitated a number of successful business-to-business meetings and significantly helped boost the capacities of the Chamber of Craftsmen. The Network is currently conducting a social marketing campaign to secure employment opportunities for the top five students of the Vardar Planning Region. And as part of further efforts to increase the social inclusion of young people in the region, the Network will soon be launching a new internet portal fully dedicated to the needs of youth.
“The aims and practices of the Network directly reflect the priorities of the Ministry of Local Self-Government and the Government,” said Minister for Local Self-Government, Lirim Shabani, adding that “These priorities are to make both local and regional development more dynamic and achieve the highest possible degree of both local and regional competitiveness.”
Applauding the collective efforts of the Council and the Centre for Development of the Vardar Planning Region, the staff of the councils and the local economic development units of all eight municipalities, as well as the representatives of the business community and civil society, the Minister went on to announce that the Ministry for Local Self-Government intends to replicate the success of the Network and establish this form of inter-municipal cooperation in the North-East and Pelagonija regions.
The establishment of these networks will establish a sound foundation for implementing many of the measures envisaged to be funded through the EU’s second Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in the area of boosting local and regional competitiveness.