On December 12, a conference “Latvia's contribution to global sustainable development: searching for new models of cooperation” was held, where the experience of local governments as a whole and Gulbene municipality in development cooperation activities - the role of municipalities and local communities in development cooperation - was presented. Gunta Kalmane, Senior Public Relations Officer at Gulbene Municipality, said in a panel discussion that decentralized cooperation and the active involvement of local communities in various smaller projects is indeed important in promoting overall development cooperation, but that there are a number of challenges facing small project promoters. Gulbene Municipality has signed cooperation agreements with Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus, but in total 500 municipal agreements have been concluded with 126 local governments from Eastern Partnership countries, including Ukraine and Armenia. The recommendations of the local governments for the new development cooperation policy cycle are as follows:
- it is also necessary to set up a development cooperation fund for the implementation of local governments in Latvia, as is the case in the Netherlands, Flanders, Sweden, Finland, Norway;
- it is important to involve local NGOs, initiative groups and young people in local governments projects;
- local governments development cooperation activities should be based on the principle of the ecosystem of innovation - involving also entrepreneurs and academia.
The conference was organized by the Latvian Development Cooperation Platform “LAPAS” in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, celebrating 15 years of development cooperation. The results of the conference discussions will feed into the new cycle of development cooperation policy and documentation.