The European Union (EU) has joined hands with the German Government to kick off a national program supporting sustainable and inclusive growth, balanced territorial development and good governance in Georgia’s regions.
“Integrated territorial development is key to urban and rural transformation and to reducing socioeconomic disparities between regions and communities. It helps coordinate regional and local development, including its environmental, social and economic dimensions, and strengthen local democracy through inclusive participation. The EU is very happy to assist Georgia to introduce and explore this modern approach and shape lasting solutions to the complex challenges faced by the country’s regions,” said Ambassador of the EU to Georgia, Carl Hartzell.
The EUR 9.5 million ‘Integrated Territorial Development’ (EU4ITD) program, running from 2022 to 2025, is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in close partnership with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and local authorities.
Drawing on EUR 8.5 million from the European Union and EUR 1 million from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the initiative serves to overcome regional disparities and achieve social cohesion by combining territorial development measures, such as urban renewal, with actions promoting economic development and social inclusion. The program covers the four regions of Guria, Imereti, Kakheti and Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti.
“The Georgian Government has embarked on an ambitious goal to design and implement a new framework for regional and local development in line with EU standards. This opens a new chapter in our joint efforts to overcome social and territorial disparities in Georgia, foster economic development, and create equal opportunities for all citizens through inclusive, smart and sustainable socio-economic means,” said Mzia Giorgobiani, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure.
Too often, development initiatives are overly programmatic, with the resulting concentration on particular sectors and a ‘one size fits all’ approach leading to opportunities and nuances being missed. EU4ITD is novel in that it consciously seeks a different path
GIZ, with EUR 7.5 million, will support local economic development, assisting municipalities, businesses, and citizens to realize the untapped economic and social potential in the focus regions.
“Too often, development initiatives are overly programmatic, with the resulting concentration on particular sectors and a ‘one size fits all’ approach leading to opportunities and nuances being missed. EU4ITD is novel in that it consciously seeks a different path: firstly, to be holistic and address the social, economic and environmental, and secondly to follow a “place-based” approach, thereby taking account of the particularities of individual regions and municipalities. These issues lie close to GIZ’s heart, and the organization is therefore institutionally invested in EU4ITD bringing about meaningful change,” said GIZ Program Director Christoph Beier.
UNDP will use EUR 2 million to promote decentralization and good governance and establish institutional development frameworks for decentralized regional policy.
“Regardless of where they live, people strive for a prosperous and livable environment shaped around the principles of inclusion, sustainability and good governance. Through our partnership with the European Union, we can provide Georgia’s regions with the assistance they need to achieve these goals, create new opportunities for local communities, improve livelihoods and reduce rural poverty,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia Nick Beresford.
“We are excited to partner with the EU in support of integrated territorial development in the pilot regions” said Hubert Knirsch, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Georgia. “This project will combine urban renewal initiatives with tourism development measures based on the cultural and natural heritage to be found in the regions and assistance to local small and medium-sized enterprises – thus enabling them to bring their products to Georgian and, I hope, international markets”.
The EU4ITD initiative contributes to and supports the implementation of the Pilot Integrated Regional Development Program (PIRDP), the national program developed by the Georgian Government to advance regional development and decentralization reform and to achieve the goals outlined in the 2020-2025 Decentralization Strategy. PIRDP financing comprises over EUR 54 million from the EU and a further EUR 10 million from the national budget.