Our project targets an area that, although very rich in natural and cultural resources, is economically poor, socially disadvantaged, without opportunities, with an aging population and high rate of migration, dependent and captive to local politicians, with a very weak and inefficient involvement of citizens in the decision-making processes.
The UNESCO Geopark project will involve the whole community in building the future of the area and give it a chance for sustainable development.
The project takes place in Romania, in the Vâlcea district, in four rural and two small urban units.
The local communities are poor and disadvantaged, although the area is very rich in environmental and cultural heritage (a National Park, 17 nature reserves, dozens of historical monuments including one in UNESCO World Heritage List, cultural traditions, among which pottery is also UNESCO).
Local opportunities are limited and this creates an unhealthy dependence on local politicians, inhibits the involvement of citizens in decision making and even generates a fear of expressing their opinions.
By involving local communities in co-creating it, we want to develop in a participatory and democratic way a strategy for the region, which offers new local opportunities and whose implementation in 2021-2030, under the auspices of the UNESCO Geopark, will offer a new alternative to this area.
An important part of the local community, including ourselves, now feels alienated, ignored and deceived by local officials and does not agree with the lack of vision and coherence for the development of the area.
Through this project, which is the result of the will and desire of a part of the local community, we want to involve the whole community in proposing, discussing and choosing the best solutions and ideas that make up the development strategy of the region. We want the voice of all citizens to be heard and taken into account. We have been working for over 15 years with the 6 local authorities, with the educational institutions, with the NGOs, with the private sector and through the project we will bring them all together at the table of proposals, discussions and decisions.
The target group directly targeted is that of the communities from the 6 units (two urban with strong rural accents and 4 rural), 24,366 inhabitants, living in 8,769 households. 25% are under 24, 27% over 60. 42% have high school education, 31% high school, 15% primary. Only 57% have access to running water, 52% to sewage, 18% have central heating.
The target groups indirectly targeted are the 33,695 inhabitants from the 11 neighboring localities who will be influenced by the future UNESCO Geopark and its visitors.
The geopark and the development strategy are the tools through which the interest of different categories of target groups work together to identify and apply the best solutions to promote, capitalize, develop and protect the capital of the area for its future and prosperity.
Project activities Nov20-Dec21:
1. Setting up the voluntary association of the communities: partnerships and projects with local administrations, schools, research institutes, local organizations, business environment.
2. Multidisciplinary analysis of the territory for the identification and development of the natural and cultural heritage.
3. Creating a unitary and coherent strategy and an action plan, based on studies, consultation and involvement.
4. Promotion of visual identity: logo, brand, website, informative materials, publications, local products.
5. Information, education, research, interpretation, specific facilities and infrastructure (visitation centers, thematic routes).
6. Developing the management structure of the geopark.
7. Preparing the evaluation visit of UNESCO.
The concrete result of the project will be the co-created strategy and related action plan of the Oltenia sub sub Munte region. This will be done together with local stakeholders (authorities, NGOs, schools, institutions, business environment, local producers and entrepreneurs) and will be integrated for implementation in the development plans of the 6 localities. Through local and national partnerships we will carry out related projects strategy, aimed at promoting and capitalizing on local heritage, developing local products and services, informing and educating citizens, their active participation in the development and implementation of the action plan.
The strategy will be presented to UNESCO evaluators during their visit, in order to achieve the status of UNESCO Geopark.
Our project can represent a model of participatory sustainable development of an area and of economically poor communities, despite being rich in natural and cultural heritage.
We will continue our efforts by activating and supporting citizens to get involved in proposing solutions for the benefit of the community, which will also impose on decision makers the real interests and problems to be solved for the good of the community.
The power of the examples through which we managed to establish of the National Park by Gov. Decision from the bottom up, the change of laws for the benefit of nature and people, the implementation of projects with benefits multiplied 100 times - all these give new courage to us, but also to those around us, with whom we can do even more, faster and better.
I coordinated the foundation of the Buila-Vânturarița National Park, the only national park in Romania established by an NGO, which then became involved in the Park’s administration, for the benefit of nature, local communities and visitors of the area.
I strongly believe that the area where I was born and raised has a great potential for development based on the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources for the benefit of both the people in the area, and of those who visit it, as well as to the benefit of nature. I studied and learned about many models that can be applied to poor regions and communities with economic and social problems and I think that the model that will come together with the status of UNESCO Geopark is the one that best suits the Oltenia de sub Munte area.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
The main requested expenses will go to the creation of materials and promotion (66%), those with logistics (5%) and equipment (4%) necessary for local meetings, with the hosting the visit of UNESCO experts (2%) and project team staff costs (23%).
The project started in '19 and will be completed at the end of '22. We have invested 21% from our own sources + 1 grant, we have 18%, we have applications in evaluation at 4 foundations and companies for 36% and we look for more opportunities.
Any kind of constructive feedback.