On 12 December 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference devoted to development cooperation, titled “Latvia’s contribution to sustainable global development: Seeking new cooperation models”. The conference brought together more than 80 promoters of development cooperation projects, representatives from civil society organisations and the private sector, as well as communication experts. The conference was opened by Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Inese Vaivare, Director of LAPAS.
We have seen the positive impact of development cooperation both as a country receiving support and a country supporting positive change elsewhere, said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica. In 2004, upon joining the European Union, we became a part of a community that is the leading provider of development assistance in the entire world. To give help to others became our duty too, noted the Parliamentary Secretary.
In the 15 years since Latvia began providing assistance to other countries, Latvia’s official development assistance has amounted to 250 million euros from 2004 to 2008. With the Foreign Ministry’s funding of five million euros for bilateral development cooperation, it has been possible to mobilise other donors’ co-financing, which is almost 2.5 times larger, or 12.5 million euros. Over 15 years, 307 projects and activities have been implemented in 20 partner countries and in Latvia itself.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica named examples of development assistance offered by Latvia. In association with other donors, 310 young professionals from our partner countries have received training in EU law, economy and policies. Latvia has helped establish an agricultural advisory system in Ukraine. We have supported decentralisation processes in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. We have provided support to women and girls in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, promoting their return to school. Latvia has supported the supply of equipment for and renovation of kindergartens in Georgia (2014) and supported the furnishing of an initiative centre for children affected by the armed conflict in Ukraine (2016).
However, it is even more important to discuss what we are going to do in the future, said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica. The present-day challenges – climate change, inequality, opportunities created by digitalisation – create the background for actualizing Latvia’s development cooperation policy. Intensive work lies ahead on drawing up the new development cooperation policy guidelines. The current guidelines are the result of extensive and inclusive discussions. Likewise, we want to identify the priorities and lines of action for development cooperation in the new period in an inclusive process involving all stakeholders, the Parliamentary secretary pointed out.
The conclusions and ideas voiced at the conference about engagement with the private sector, mobilizing public support, promoting cooperation between the numerous implementers of development cooperation will be integrated into the new guidelines for development cooperation policy after 2020.
In concluding the conference, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, presented the Foreign Minister’s Certificate of Merit to the LAPAS association for its contribution to the facilitation and promotion of Latvia’s development cooperation. And, marking the 15th anniversary of LAPAS, its Director, Inese Vaivare, offered thanks to a number of cooperation partners.
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