Wednesday, 02 December, 2020

Good practices

In 2019, the NAMRB started, together with the Norwegian Association of Local Authorities, the implementation of the GALOP project. The project aims to introduce a different approach to support local development. Instead of top-down priorities, we look for local realities and potential. Based on these strengths, we hope to prepare projects planned and worked by local people.

To achieve our goal, we have gathered information on successful municipal programs, projects and endeavors related to the development of small settlements, as well as their future plans for upgrading or utilization. After analyzing the best practices collected and the identified local assets, the responding local authorities will be able to apply with a concept of local economic development, with 10 municipalities or groups of municipalities selected to develop local development strategies with full financial support for the project Gallop.

These municipalities will be involved in the intensive expert and management exchange of the project with the Norwegian local authorities and in study visits to Norway. 

The following pages provide you with brief information on the best practices and municipal policies collected in the project related to promoting local development and preserving local communities.

The successful examples presented to Bulgarian municipalities are summarized in the following main categories:

  1. Social capital - a prerequisite for future development;
  2. Cultural achievements and heritage - the basis for economic recovery;
  3. Upgrading of economic assets;
  4. People's nature - the most valuable wealth.
 

Main difficulties identified by the municipalities participating in the GALOP survey regarding the utilization of local resources and potential

 

  1. Exploitation of natural resources and historical heritage

Local authorities highlight the lack of adequate own or local resources for the so-called. 'Socialization' of the local heritage, incl. ensuring accessibility, carrying out the necessary archaeological and conservation activities, undertaking security measures, building a small tourist infrastructure and accompanying management and maintenance measures. 

A significant part of the sites are state-owned (especially the natural landmarks and territories) and the other is untouched private property (architectural heritage), and the procedures for transferring it for management or forcible preservation are too lengthy and difficult. The economic “utilization” of sites and assets located in protected areas, in turn, requires careful planning and balancing of the interests of local businesses, local residents, environmentalists and responsible government agencies. In many cases, reaching a mutually beneficial compromise proves impossible.

  1. Upgrading of economic assets

For small settlements and producers of agricultural / handicrafts, it is particularly difficult to penetrate the market and deliver their products (treated with higher added value) directly to consumers or tourists. The difficulties are of a regulatory nature - ignorance or "non-compliance" with the regulations and restrictions on the so-called. direct deliveries; "Non-competitive" prices; lack of cooperation and opportunities for common marketing and promotion, lack of connection with local / regional / regional tourism businesses and consumers.

Many local authorities have tried to support their owners by organizing special holidays and festivals, farmers' markets and local craft exhibitions; of general or municipal campaigns and projects for advertising and promotion. These activities were reported as insufficient. Additional analyzes and measures are needed to alleviate regulatory constraints, to create skills and platforms for cooperation, to ensure priority or advantage for local suppliers / producers / businesses in public procurement for municipalities and deconcentrated government agencies.

A number of municipalities rely on the revitalization and activation of existing industrial or industrial areas, with the main obstacles to this (based on previous experiences) being the lack of staff and connectivity. The demographic picture in the small municipalities does not imply a reversal of the negative trends, despite the priority investments made by the European funds in infrastructure and basic services for the population. Solutions can be sought in dealing with neighboring municipalities and even at the regional level, where investors can find the "required minimum" markets, workforce, business support (ie networking and clustering) and the environment (in t .h. educational, social, cultural and other services). Small municipalities and local people are currently finding it difficult to identify modern businesses and businesses locally.

  1. Utilization of cultural and social capital

The majority of the surveyed municipalities rely on the utilization of their social capital through the so-called. social entrepreneurship in its various forms.

The main difficulties here are the lack of social and cultural dynamics in small municipalities and settlements, the isolation of entire population groups and subsequent apathy and even degradation.

It is pointed out that both the whole of Bulgaria and the individual municipalities are extremely rich in historical / cultural landmarks and vigilant people, who, however, fail to "realize" in relation to our time. The lack of cultural / social services events in such places and stimulating external interventions to come and present different points of view, experience and philosophy, stops the potential of these places and the young people in them. Activating young people and local people in general is proving to be an extremely complex process. Local people do not identify and are not aware that they are part of a rich historical and sustainable cultural heritage. They do not believe that anyone would be interested in coming to this "boring village or town." They do not trust the local rulers or anyone else to do something essential for them (the locals). They lose the habit of acting as communities and setting common goals.

This prompts the search for new approaches to engage the local public. Municipalities feel indebted to young people, to students and to working in the municipality. Therefore, they implement or plan innovative cultural events, mobile social services, leadership schools, municipal programs for small-scale local investments, setting up community centers, incl. for working with children and young people.

Their purpose is to create opportunities and spaces for communication and exchange of ideas, as well as to activate the local community, to empower the youth, the elderly, the disabled, to work and to feel involved in social causes that they believe in. and follow. In order for people to be empathetic and to feel themselves as part of the social behavior of the local community and to see the results of their own activities. To engage in structured dialogue and self-organization, which will make them more independent and active in the future, including in the development of their own business. They want to stay in the municipality because there is something to do and it is interesting, not only because they do it, but because they do it together and willingly.

However, for these innovative endeavors, there are usually sporadic schemes to provide investment support based on centrally lowered criteria. The problem is the lack of adequate financial resources (at local level) to ensure the sustainability of the investments and the funded 'soft measures'. There is no support, financially and expertly (except for fragmented NGO programs) to build capacity to manage these processes. 

 

The barriers and difficulties identified above in the previous attempts of the local authorities to activate their local assets and resources will be further analyzed and used in the implementation of the follow-up activities of the GALOP project, incl. for the systematization of proposals to the responsible central authorities for the creation of specific instruments and regulations for stimulating local innovations. Such tools have long been working with appropriate results, as can be seen from the collection of good practices in the Kingdom of Norway.