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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Working toward sustainable development: cooperation among local government municipalities / Latvia

Posted By: Alanda Pulina
Date: Wednesday, 26 April 2000, at 12:35 p.m.

Key words: economics, planning, resource use.

DESCRIPTION AND STATUS: The territory of the Local Governments' Co-operation Union (LGCU) "Ziemelkurzeme" lies in the northwest part of Latvia, it is washed by the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, and consists of ten rural local governments. The total land area is 2,200 kmē, and the population is 13,000. The area is covered by large tracts of forests, and bog land. The south part of the LGCU is less forested and more agriculturally oriented. The main economic activities are forestry, wood processing, agriculture, fishing and fish processing; and tourism is starting to be developed. The co-operation started in 1997, and it is the first such collaborative union to be started since Latvia regained independence.

The LGCU "Ziemelkurzeme" was founded to help local governments work more effectively than before to solve common and similar problems and to work for the real development of the territory; also to create joint institutions able to work with the different spheres which are the responsibility of local governments. The LGCU institution has been founded, to co-ordinate the whole collaboration process in the region. The political council of the organisation consists of the chairmen of all ten local governments.

LONG-TERM BENEFIT: Local governments are responsible for solving many questions in today's Latvia with an inadequate amount of financing. Because of this, local governments are only able to fulfil everyday needs (to put out the "fires") but are not able to work for overall development. The last mentioned activity is the task of LGCU "Ziemelkurzeme" working on long term development projects, including future planning and effective use of the resources.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND INSTITUTIONAL STRENGTHENING: Co-operation fosters the possibility for all stakeholders to reach the highest development level in each sphere, using the best achievements and practices in the region. LGCU is seeking the most effective ways for management of the region, keeping the possibility to be quite flexible in each case.

SUSTAINABILITY: Co-operation has started with organisations able to promote, train and teach on the sustainability issues that need to be integrated into all spheres of the region's development. In accordance with the demands of the legal, national, European Union (EU) and other documents and programmes, the sustainability principles are included in the development projects of the territory.

TRANSFERABILITY: The experience of the LGCU is spread out and applied nation-wide. The "Ziemelkurzeme" is also taking part in programmes to try and evaluate the most useful aspects of collaboration system.

CONSENSUS BUILDING: The LGCU is developing solutions topical for all, or at least most of the participants. Participation is dependent on the benefit for each stakeholder.

PARTICIPATORY PROCESS: The council and other meetings of the co-operation union are open to interested persons and organisations. Transparency is maintained with the help of mass information, such as meeting reports and participants. Different sectors of society and various organisations inside and outside of the region have been involved in the projects.

EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION PROCESS: The flow of information is maintained and developed through inside communication and with other institutions. The most developed municipality in this sphere helps to bring other municipalities to the same level.

STRENGTHENING LOCAL IDENTITIES: The co-operation organisation is responsible to raise the level of self-reliance and self-confidence of the local inhabitants. Special attention is paid to the region's image and to work with the young people to motivate them to stay and work in their native country.

LEGAL NATIONAL POLICY: The activities of the LGCU not only adhere to current government legal policies, but also stimulate changes in the legal policy to make it more democratic. LGCU has been founded in accordance with the law of Administrative-Territorial Reform of Latvia and the law of Local Governments of Latvia.

REGIONAL DIMENSION: All questions are solved within a regional context.

DOCUMENTATION: The project is documented, at different levels and in different forms, for the organisation itself and also as a response to the considerable outside interest.

Alanda Pulina (Ms)
Development Department, Senior Expert
Dundaga Municipality


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