23 March 2022
12 years of transnational cooperation to benefit citizens.
Jelgava Local Municipality’s story
Written by Luca Arfini
Today we get the chance to discover how European Territorial cooperation contributed to enhancing the lives of citizens of Jelgava Local Municipality, in Latvia. Read what its Vice-Chairman, Ms. Ilze Vītola, has to say on transnational cooperation and its benefits.
Jelgava Local Municipality has been actively participating in transnational cooperation projects since 2009. During those past 12 years, Jelgava Local Municipality joined different Interreg cooperation programmes (Interreg Baltic Sea Region, URBACT, Interreg Central Baltic and Interreg V-A Latvia – Lithuania), and implemented 17 projects in total.
By the end of 2021 Jelgava Local Municipality was involved in six projects in three Interreg programmes: Interreg Baltic Sea Region, URBACT, and Interreg V-A Latvia – Lithuania.
What did Jelgava Local Municipality and its citizens gain from participating in Interreg projects?
Participation in Interreg projects has given Jelgava Local Municipality new prospects for the development of the municipality in such important spheres as innovations and entrepreneurship, environment, tourism, better and more accessible services for citizens. It has also helped the municipality to gain better visibility and recognition, not only in Latvia but also abroad.
Jelgava Local Municipality really appreciates participation in the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme. So far, with the help of various transnational projects, we have met the needs of different groups of inhabitants.
Jelgava Local Municipality has been involved in projects dealing in particular with sustainability and wellbeing, can you share one practical example?
Recently the municipality started to participate in health promotion projects to encourage healthy lifestyle habits in different generations and social groups. With the HEALTHY BOOST project, a pilot on health promotion was developed in the municipality. Within the project lectures and masterclasses for school cooks, pupils and their parents were organised to promote healthy eating habits in two municipal schools. The result was the introduction of more local, healthy, and seasonal products in school menus. This idea was overtaken from URBACT`s project AGRI-URBAN where Jelgava Local Municipality was involved as a partner during the project implementation in 2016 – 2018 and acquired similar experiences in France, Spain and Sweden.
Local and regional municipalities can play an important role in the promotion of sustainability by facilitating short supply circuits, implementing targeted campaigns, informing and educating their inhabitants. It is really welcomed that municipalities are involved in the EU projects as they are at the closest governance level to the population. Strategic planning and cross-sectoral cooperation at all governance levels and with inhabitants bring new prospects to a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits.
How did transnational cooperation contribute to enhancing sustainable water management locally?
Within the project WATERDRIVE, Jelgava Local Municipality could advance environmentally friendly water management practices in the adjacent territories of Svēte River. The project began its activities in 2018. During those three years, communication and cooperation between municipality, landowners and state institutions were established. Project partners trained these key actors on best practice examples in wetland management and renewal.
In addition, also pilot demonstrations of mechanical cleaning and release from water plants of Svēte riverbanks were carried out. Removal of organic mass eliminates flood risks and ensures smooth flow of the watercourse. With the help of the project, Jelgava Local Municipality contributed to raising awareness of close-by landowners on the importance of cleaning riverbanks as an anti-flood measure and nutrient element circulation, as well as improvement of water quality and environment.
It should be noted that recently in the municipality cleaning works in places close to the rivers have been carried out on a voluntary basis. Only within EU projects studying different experiences, we have started to realise the importance of works from the perspective of practical management, natural water flow and drainage as well as fish spawning grounds. It is also welcomed that water resources management projects have made responsible authorities think about sustainable and planned management of water resources in Latvia and beyond.
If you were to encourage other municipalities to join Interreg projects as partners, what would you say?
The activities carried out in these Interreg projects have significantly contributed to the increase of knowledge and potential of Jelgava Local Municipality. Those projects have always been crucial for the sustainable development of the municipality as they opened the possibilities to cooperate between regions and countries across the Baltic Sea in solving common challenges and learning from each other. Therefore, we definitely recommend other municipalities take advantage of Interreg and participate. It’s worth it!
In the next years, Interreg Baltic Sea Region will keep supporting projects having a positive impact on the residents of the region, if you have a smart or green idea and want to receive funding for it check our gateway for applicants, where you will find all the information on our next call for applications.
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