The online kick-off event took place on 4 July 2024 and gathered participants from the previous project “Bridges of Cooperation”, U-LEAD GIZ staff from both the Kyiv as well as regional offices, new partners and NALAS Secretariat.

Continuing in our joint efforts of building bridges of cooperation between EU host and Ukraine beneficiary local governments, the existing eight tandems from Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria were complemented by tandem partners from Montenegro and North Macedonia. Key of the partnerships between local governments is the co-called Shadowing Programme, a partnership instrument adapted from peer-to-peer knowledge sharing among Local Government Associations to direct expertise exchange among local governments.

The Shadowing Program, as a mechanism for exchange and transfer of knowledge between peers is based on coaching, mentoring, and on-the-job learning using the expertise of both host and beneficiary party to strengthen via a short-term project intervention the capacities of Ukrainian local governments and to prepare the ground for a potential comprehensive project intervention soon to be based on tangible results achieved via inter-municipal partnerships and decentralised cooperation.

The project intervention continues along the line of a common need identified by all 10 Ukrainian local governments during the previous “Bridges of Cooperation” pilot and the “New Wave of Cooperation” intervention among jointly defined key priority topics. In this sense, the actions will provide support to Ukrainian local governments in the cross-cutting issue of EU accession process, preparation, and management of local development projects to support Ukraine’s reconstruction and reform process. Furthermore, increasing capacities and skills in EU fundraising will help to address the acute challenges in specific sectors facing local authorities and local communities in terms of service delivery in a country experiencing aggression and a full-scale war.

Sharing the positive results and potential of the Shadowing Programme at European level to a wider EU audience of interested stakeholders from EU member states, EU candidate countries, EU institutions and the international donor community, via the experience/testimony of EU host and Ukrainian beneficiary local governments participating in the actions, contributes to showcasing the prospective of this particular knowledge transfer and learning-sharing tool as a serious option to be taken into consideration for the future bottom-up reconstruction and reform process in Ukraine.