Strategic Development Planning: Progress in Visaginas

By Ingrida Zabuliene (Baltic Environmental Programs Office of ECOLOGIA), March 2004

During the period of July-December 2003, Baltic Environmental Programs’ Office (BEPO) together with Visaginas Municipality administration and Visaginas community conducted a project “Strategic planning – a tool to implement principles of Sustainable Development in Visaginas Municipality”. The project activities were covered by a grant to BEPO from the Open Society Foundation in Lithuania.

As a result of this project, a strategic development plan for Visaginas Municipality was prepared using the “down-to-up” method of Local Agenda 21. Visaginas community future vision (development directions, priorities and goals) is now combined with a description of the practical actions and means needed to implement the plan. The document was prepared using state methodologies adopted in 2002.

Strategic planning is a quite innovative tool in Lithuania on both the national and regional levels. To this date, only five municipalities in the Republic of Lithuania have adopted their local strategic plans. As distinct from the rest of Lithuanian municipalities, the Visaginas strategic development plan was prepared by Visaginasians themselves. Professional experts on Lithuania law in strategic planning and basic national regulations only reviewed the prepared material and gave fragmentary consultations on different steps of the process.

In total 148 Visaginas inhabitants were intensively involved in the project. Working groups included representatives from local NGOs, municipality officials, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant workers, businessmen, school teachers, librarians, culture centers administrators etc. A Steering committee under the leadership of Visaginas municipality mayor V. Rachkauskas was established to manage project activities. During the project old partnerships among ECOLOGIA and visaginasians were strengthened and the new ones were established. Visaginas Community Development Council (leader A. Ogijenko) was the main ECOLOGIA partner for the project.

These six months of project activities received very intensive local media coverage: journalists have described previous ECOLOGIA work in Visaginas, highlighted goals and expected results for the recent project, constantly made follow-ups on the project activities (working meetings, seminars, management meetings, editing work for the paper, public hearings etc.). Extracts of the prepared document were also published in the media.

After the strategic development plan was drafted and improved according to project experts' recommendations, it was handed over to Visaginas municipality council. It is up to the council decision to adopt the plan as an official strategic planning document for Visaginas municipality administration.

In frames of this project ECOLOGIA and BEPO have contributed to the integration of community future vision into every day operations of municipal administration. The project enabled BEPO to unite different community sectors, municipal administration officials and politicians for strategic planning of city future and to raise skills of different stakeholders in the field of strategic planning and implementation.

To make sure that the development plan will be progressively implemented, in the future BEPO intends to provide education on implementation mechanisms of the plan. In addition, BEPO intends to promote the adopted plan and share know-how on its preparation and implementation procedures with other Lithuanian municipalities and possible with municipalities in other countries of transition.

Last updated: November 2004          Please make comments & report problems to the Webmaster