On 14 November 2019, the conference “People for People: Bulgaria and Switzerland” will present the impact and lessons learned from the 10-year implementation of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.
Swiss Ambassador Muriel Berset Kohen and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev will address the conference that is open to institutions, beneficiates and other donors in Bulgaria. Jointly with representatives of Bulgarian state institutions and municipalities, people involved with the Programme - dual education apprentices, Roma health mediators, teachers, farmers, businesses and NGOs - will be among the key speakers there. Representatives of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) will join the discussions, as well as meeting with people in Sliven where the ZOV Programme (Health and Education for All) worked for the Roma inclusion and visit pilot centres for hazardous households waste across the country.
Solidarity & Cooperation: these are the two key words that best describe the Swiss contribution to a more prosperous Bulgaria. “Our solidarity is based on the conviction that the Swiss and Bulgarians share one common future. Working together, we are stronger and we can succeed to overcome the challenges”, says Swiss Ambassador Muriel Berset Kohen. “We are proud that together we have supported hundreds of initiatives”.
Presenting a handful of personal success stories, community endeavours and results achieved, participants in the conference “People for People” will discuss ways ahead and challenges the Bulgarian society is still facing.
In its 10 years of implementation, the Programme has supported more than 120 initiatives and key reforms in Bulgaria reaching thousands of people in almost all municipalities. Near to its formal end in December, the Programme speaks through visible achievements. A long-standing environmental problem, the disposal of dangerous obsolete pesticides is going to be solved in over 100 municipalities. Modern dual vocational education is piloted and promoted as the most effective tool for youth employment. Approaches for social inclusion of vulnerable groups and care for elderly people are adopted in 15 municipalities and at a national level. New models of nature protection that are based on the commitment and improved livelihood of local communities are working. Combatting of organized crime and trafficking of human beings is now high in the agenda of the institutions and Bulgarian society. Contemporary standards in juvenile justice and delinquencies, human rights -based policing and environmental crimes are spread within law enforcement institutions.
The Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme disposed of 76 million Swiss francs for the period 2009 – 2019. Switzerland provided support in areas where Bulgaria has claimed needs for catching up: security and justice; support to the civil society; social inclusion of minorities and vulnerable groups; environment and infrastructure; promotion of the private sector; bilateral partnerships; research and education. The Programme, that is part of Swiss contribution to the reduction of economic and social disparities in the enlarged European Union, aims also at promoting in weak periphery regions in Bulgaria and enhancing lasting cooperation between the two countries. All projects co-financed under the Programme are or will be completed by the end of 2019.
The Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme: in facts and figures:
- The Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme is part of the Swiss contribution to the reduction of the economic and social disparities in the EU. With a total enlargement contribution of CHF 1.302 billion, Switzerland autonomously supports a number of bilateral projects in the 13 countries that have joined the EU since 2004 (EU-13 countries). The distribution of the enlargement contribution among the partner countries was based on population size and per capita income.
- Bulgaria ranks 5th place of 13 partner states supported by the Switzerland’s enlargement contribution after Poland, Romania, Hungary and Czech Republic in terms of the amount of the Swiss support.
- The Programme supported 93 projects and 22 doctoral students and post-doctoral visits.
- Partnering public institutions co-finance projects with 15%, while the non-governmental organizations – 10 %.
- Each project contributed to at least one of the five overarching Programme objectives: promoting economic growth and improving working conditions (12 % of the total budget); improving social security (17 %); improving public safety (10 %); protecting the environment (48 %); strengthening civil society (11 %) and support for developing projects (2 %).
- With a total budget of CHF 23,4 million, of which CHF 19,9 is the Swiss contribution, the largest project, financed by the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme, is the project “Disposal of obsolete pesticides”.
- The largest number of supported projects (36) are in the fund enhancing civil society.
The objectives of the Programme are attained and even exceeded in the vast majority of projects co-financed by the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.
The Exhibition “People for People: Bulgaria and Switzerland” was presented in the Bulgarian Parliament on 8th of May and travelled in five regional cities to share the major achievements of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.
The Conference “People for People” is marking the formal end of the Programme, but many of the supported initiatives extend just beyond administrative deadlines to match the demands of Bulgarian people throughout the country.