Civic activists from Bulgaria discussed the challenges in the management of the urban environment

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The international conference Urban Areas as Space for Implementation of Sustainable Policies was held on November 28 and 29 in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

More than 40 activists, representatives of civil organizations and local authorities from all over the country took part in the conference. The main topics that the participants discussed were related to the policies for sustainable management and development of the urban environment and, in particular, the green spaces. The participants in the conference shared their experience in working on cases that are emblematic of their cities: the new vision for sustainable development of Sofia, the protection of green and cultural spaces in the new masterplan of Plovdiv, the struggle to preserve "Bedechka" Park in Stara Zagora, etc.

The conference was attended by experts from partner organizations of the Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation from the Czech Republic, Norway, Romania and Hungary. They introduced the participants to their good practices on care of green spaces in cities and youth participation in democratic processes.

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A particularly valuable and interesting contribution was also made by practitioners from the Czech Republic, who presented their good practice of sustainable management of the green system in the city of Brno through a municipal enterprise, with a full integration of ecological practices and the use of natural methods to restore habitats in city parks; active involvement of citizens in periodically organized community events and holidays, working with young people. Lasse Thomassen from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee presented the various ways through which young people in Norway get actively involved in local life from school, and the forms of youth involvement to assert rights and improve the living and learning environment by introducing their own ideas.

Another positive result of the conference was the initiation of an informal network of NGOs and activists working on the problems of the urban environment. The conference participants decided to create their own communication space in which to exchange experiences and ideas to attract wider civic support and participation and solve current problems of the urban environment. The coordinator of the network will be the Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation.

The event was part of a series of forums that are held in all partner countries of the project "Reclaiming our civic space: from the local to the European level" (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia and Norway) and aim to improve conditions and promote democratic citizen participation in European Union countries.

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