The round-table conference was attended by Vice Mayor of Gothenburg (Sweden), experts of Leu Sapeha Foundation, representatives of Belarusian scientific and educational institutions and public organizations, and activists of public initiatives.
Following a discussion of the reports, the conference participants noted:
- Creating a favourable environment in the cities is not possible without the full participation of citizens in the discussion and making decisions at the local level.
- The European practice is based on the need to involve of all the stakeholders in the discussion to make informed decisions relating to sustainable development of local communities.
- According to the Belarusian legislation, there are a number of forms of citizen participation in decision making at the local level. However, they are unattractive and do not actually work due to excessive bureaucracy, formal character, and lack of interest of local authorities in establishing a dialogue with local communities.
The round-table participants consider it necessary to develop communication between local governments and citizens concerning the issues of a local character, and therefore address all the subjects of legislative initiative, including the heads of local governments and the and national government of Belarus, with the following proposals:
- The citizens of Belarus shall be recognized at the level of the law as full-fledged subjects of decision making at the local level.
- Public discussions concerning the development of urban and rural settlements prior to the development of projects shall be guaranteed at the level of the law.
- The procedure for holding local referendums shall be simplified, and referendum results shall have binding nature.
- Local councils of deputies shall be obliged to consider at their sessions the proposals initiated by more than 30 citizens.
- Public advisory councils shall be created at local executive committees at the level of the law.
- The practice shall be introduced of creating budgets of public engagement for local community initiatives for the development of urban and rural settlements in Belarus.