“BRIDGES OF TRUST”: BASQUE MUNICIPALITIES COOPERATING IN THE REBUILD OF UKRAINIAN CITIES
Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz are bilaterally supporting joint projects with Novomoskovsk, Kremenchuk and Nikopol, respectively.
The Basque city councils will advise their counterparts in Ukraine on rebuild and recovery projects to ensure essential services, such as water supply and sanitation, and local economic or urban development.
The “city to city” cooperation is going fordward after the study visit of the Ukrainian local authorities to Euskadi, from June 19 to 23, organized by EUDEL and the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC).
EUDEL is one of the ten local government associations selected by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) to take part in the Bridges of Trust initiative, which will help to rebuild 30 Ukrainian cities seriously affected by the Russian attacks.
This international cooperation experience endorsed by the European Commission has an innovative approach; in addition to the CEMF, it has the backing of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) and the European U-Lead (Ukraine -Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development) programme.
The terms of the participation of the Basque municipalities in this initiative are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the EUDEL Chairman and the CEMR Secretary General.
Apart from rebuilding the country, the BRIDGES OF TRUST initiative seeks to strengthen the capacities of Ukrainian local governments for international cooperation and European integration, by sharing inspiring experiences and stories through local action.
Matching between cities
On 15 February 2023, Bridges of Trust was launched with a hybrid event in Brussels. Up until September 2023, 10 associations of EU local and regional authorities will facilitate 30 municipal partnerships to rebuild Ukraine.
In the case of Association of Basque Municipalities, the CEMR has worked closely with its counterpart (AUC) to drive 3 Basque Country-Ukrainian partnerships:
- Bilbao – Novomoskovsk (in the Dnipro region).
- Donostia/San Sebastián – Kremenchuk (in the Poltava region).
- Vitoria-Gasteiz – Nikopol (in the Dnipro region).
- Knowledge of the local government system of the Basque Country, multilevel collaboration and possible application of the best practices in Ukraine
- Greater awareness and capacity for intermunicipal cooperation among Ukrainian local government officials
- Better skills and expertise in project planning and development, with a focus on rebuild projects for Ukrainian municipalities
- Strengthening associations and relations between the local governments of Ukraine and the Basque Country on the basis of shared experiences and lessons learnt
- Development of specific ideas and plans for joint rebuild projects between the municipalities of Ukraine and (name of the country) with possible future presentation of projects for European, state and regional financing
Fact-finding missions and meetings between local representatives
A milestone of the programme will be the setting up of fact-finding missions by the three Ukrainian municipalities to the three Basque capitals to learn on the ground about their success stories and best practices, which could be applied to rebuilding Ukraine.
The fact-finding missions will be an opportunity for face-to-face meetings between local representatives and to build ties of solidarity and support between the Basque Country and Ukraine.
In April, several remote meetings were held to agree on the themes and scope for the joint design of city-to-city cooperation projects.
The aim is for a validated cooperation project to be drafted between both parties by the end of September and which will then be submitted to CEMR/U-LEAD to start on the search for sources of funding.
Each of the partnerships will work on a collaborative thematic area:
The Bilbao-Novomoskovsk partnership will work on water supply and sanitation, drawing on the experience of the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium.
Donostia/San Sebastián and Kremenchuk will focus on the development of the capacities, tools and processes needed to receive and manage European funds aimed at rebuilding and modernising the city, and on designing and managing urban transformation projects.
Vitoria-Gasteiz and Nikopol will work together on sustainability, in areas such as energy efficiency, urban green infrastructure and waste management, along with municipal planning regarding sustainable development.
Furthermore, all the projects must include the gender perspective and will develop a global partnership regarding equal opportunities between women and men.
As a second important milestone, EUDEL, U-LEAD and CEMR will organise a remote Solidarity Forum for all Basque local councils. The aim is to present the results of the Bridges project and build on the experience to forge new alliances with other interested Basque municipalities.
The event will be a platform to learn in person about the reality of Ukrainian cities and what the needs of their populations are.
In addition to working together on common challenges and problems as municipalities, the Forum will be the opportunity to showcase the potential benefits for all the parties of the association in the short and long term, such as cooperating on rebuilding projects.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Information on the Bridges of Trust Programme