Integrating Global Environmental Issues into Bulgaria’s Regional Development Process

Introduction

The project strategy is to promote a proactive integration of global environmental issues into the very process of regional and local development, as well as spatial planning, both of which are managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. This would be achieved by developing the capacity of MRDPW and MOEW to integrate global environmental objectives into the regional and local development policies and practices, as well as into spatial planning documents.

The project has been identified as a priority for Bulgaria by the NCSA for furthering its commitments under the UNCBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD (henceforth referred to as “the Rio Conventions”). The NCSA has specifically identified the need to develop national capacity for mainstreaming global environmental objectives into the regional development process, through the integration of these objectives in the formulation and implementation of regional development policies and plans at the national, regional, district and municipal levels.

Project Details

Bulgaria is on the threshold of EU accession and is aligning its sustainable development policies with EU requirements. The goal of EU accession by 2007 offers some important opportunities for explicitly incorporating the mandates of the UNCBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD into the regional development and spatial planning processes, which are typically focused on socio-economic issues. Bulgaria is embarking on a different, systematic regional development planning approach. The responsibility for determining the regional development path lies with the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW), and this development path will be articulated through a series of documents - National Regional Development Strategy, the National Operational Programme for Regional Development (NOPRD), six Regional Development Plans (RDPs), 28 District Development Strategies (DDSs) and 264 Municipal Development Plans (MDPs). It is this evolving regional development planning process that the proposed GEF project is seeking to link in to at an early, upstream stage, so as to ensure that global environmental concerns can be mainstreamed.

Based on the findings of the National Capacity Self Assessment (NCSA) and subsequent discussions with key stakeholders during the PDF-A, the project strategy is to promote a proactive integration of global environmental issues into the very process of regional and local development, as well as spatial planning, both of which are managed by MRDPW. This would be achieved by developing the capacity of MRDPW to integrate global environmental objectives into the regional and local development policies and practices, as well as into spatial planning documents.

To implement the project strategy, it will be essential to involve and build ownership of the project among the following key stakeholder groups – MRDPW at all levels, MOEW, Municipal Mayors, local NGOs and private enterprises. All of these groups are essential to influencing and changing the current practice in terms of how regional and local development and spatial planning documents are formulated and implemented. A particularly important opportunity that this project is capitalizing on is the interest expressed by MRDPW to pursue such an approach during their involvement in the NCSA process.

The project has been identified as a priority for Bulgaria by the NCSA for furthering its commitments under the UNCBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD (henceforth referred to as “the Rio Conventions”). The NCSA has specifically identified the need to develop national capacity for mainstreaming global environmental objectives into the regional development process, through the integration of these objectives in the formulation and implementation of regional development policies and plans at the national, regional, district and municipal levels.

In addition, a need for better coordination among the key ministries at the national/ central and local/ regional levels has been stated as a key to due implementation of the conventions. As stated in the NCS A report, “stakeholder coordination is insufficient to mainstream the obligations under the Conventions and to achieve effectiveness and efficiency in implementation”. Two main interconnected areas of support have been identified in this regard: i) support to institutions in the area of cross-sectoral planning, decision-making and information systems; and ii) support for decentralized integrated environmental planning and action-oriented approaches.

The main challenge has been to identify the exact linkages between the Conventions in each of the sectors and match those with the desired economic priorities identified by the Government. National and regional development policies should accommodate such principles in order to reverse the current practice of treating global environmental issues as a stand-alone agenda of limited concern to national or local development priorities. The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) in Bulgaria is assigned the prime responsibility for implementing the Conventions. However, thus far, it has not been able to develop effective cross- sectoral dialogue at a government-wide level to mainstream global environmental issues into sectoral policies.

The NCSA process also assigned importance to strengthening the capacity of state institutions responsible for the management of financial resources. The objective is to improve the efficiency of their disbursement for the purpose of meeting the objectives of national development and those of the Rio Conventions. The final NCSA document of Bulgaria states: “...the strategy aims at a more efficient use of Bulgaria’s limited institutional, human and financial resources based on the following principles: ... the objectives and measures for implementation of the Conventions are mainstreamed into Bulgaria’s regulatory and economic framework in the context of its EU accession priorities”.

More specifically this includes: i) improvement of decision-making within the financial system to honor the country’s obligations under the conventions by revisiting rules and criteria for resource allocation and disbursement; ii) improvement of the workflow and capacity of the existing institutions in order to make funds of international and pre-accession mechanisms available for implementation of the Conventions, especially those that closely match with national development targets; iii) improvement of inter-agency cooperation by introducing appropriate practices into inter-governmental working groups (for example, participation of Convention expert groups and Focal Points in meetings within and among the key economic sectors); iv) building the capacity of the institution/s responsible for regional development, which should play the key role in meaningful coordination of the sectoral policies and their translation into the regional development agenda; v) development of a meaningful indicator system for monitoring and analyzing the progress towards achievement of Conventions’ objectives.

One of the four objectives of the Government Program People are the Wealth of Bulgaria, alongside with economic growth and raising the living standards, is the integration of Bulgaria MSP Integrating GE into Regional Development Planning 10 August 2005 environment into the sectoral policies. The National Economic Development Plan 2000 – 2006 identifies the five priorities of the country’s development as follows:

  • Raising the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy
  • Human resources development
  • Improvement of the basic infrastructure and environmental protection Development of the agriculture and rural areas
  • Balanced and sustainable regional development

According to the Regional Development Act, adopted in 2004, “Regional development is a process of formation and implementation of a policy aimed at achieving balanced and sustainable development of administrative and territorial units, grouped into planning regions in the Republic of Bulgaria”. The need to create conditions for balanced and sustainable development in the regions of Bulgaria has been put forth as the top priority among the strategic objectives of the country.

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Bulgaria
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Completed
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
500,000
Co-Financing Total: 
1,300,000

Key Results and Outputs

  • Outcome 1: The methodologies, skills, knowledge, and information management system for mainstreaming global environmental considerations into the formulation, implementation and evaluation of regional development and spatial planning policies are in place
    • Output 1.1: Accredited training programme on the integration of UNCBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD objectives into regional development and spatial planning processes is established
    • Output 1.2: Key staff from MRDPW and MOEW is trained to integrate biodiversity, climate change and land degradation objectives into their regular work activities related to regional development planning, implementation and evaluation.
    • Output 1.3: Set of uniform indicators and guidance for application are established for measuring the contribution of regional development policy and spatial planning to meeting global environmental objectives
    • Output 1.4: A portal website dedicated to integration of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation issues into development planning is operational for all stakeholders (government, NGOs, CBOs, businesses, academic and research institutions, public)
    • Output 1.5: Develop knowledge materials from extensive information on good practices from Bulgaria, neighboring countries, EU and other regions for dissemination through the portal website.
  • Outcome 2: Institutional changes that support mainstreaming of global environment into regional development and spatial planning are in place.
    • Output 2.1: Institutional improvements introduced at MRDPW and MOEW (SEA) to sustain the capacities developed through the training programme for the integration of global environmental objectives into regional development and spatial planning
    • Output 2.2: Stakeholders have the capacity to monitor, evaluate, adapt, replicate and learn from project strategy
  • Outcome 3: Regional development plans and municipal-level spatial development plans are revised to integrate global environmental objectives in a pilot region or group of municipalities through application of capacities developed in Outcomes 1 and 2.
    • Output 3.1: The Regional Development Plan for the pilot planning region adequately integrates biodiversity, climate change and land degradation issues
    • Output 3.2: The master plan of 1 pilot municipality adequately integrates biodiversity, climate change and land degradation issues

Monitoring and Evaluation

Project monitoring and evaluation will be conducted in accordance with established UNDP and GEF procedures and will be provided by the project team and the UNDP Country Office (UNDP-CO) with support from UNDP/GEF.

The PIU will provide regular updates on the progress on PDF A execution to the Steering Committee (via the CEO of the MNRLGE) at least once a month, and more regularly to the CEO MNRLGE and UNDP. PDF A execution will be evaluated on a timely basis by the MNRLGE and UNDP with a view to modifying PDF A activities accordingly.

Monitoring of the PDF A execution will be done by the UNDP country office , with support from the UNDP/GEF Regional Office. Audit of project expenditure will be done in accordance with agreed UNDP and GEF requirements.

 

Contacts

UNDP [nid:57]
Emma Mario
Country Officer
UNDP [nid:57]
Nodel Neneiya
Project Coordinator