“Municipal partnerships established on a short-term basis can have a long-term future” – Magnus Liljeström
Magnus Liljeström works with international projects and represents SALAR International, which is a subsidiary of the huge international organization Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR). SALAR has been in existence for over 100 years and shares the experience of the Swedish decentralized public sector in 14 countries.
“Municipal partnerships can be created on a short-term basis, but they can also have a long-term future. For example, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish municipalities began to establish partnerships with the Baltic states, and again, we see that many of these partnerships are still living a full life,” Magnus Liljeström, advisor to the Cities4Cities | United4Ukraine initiative and SALAR International expert, shared his experience.
SALAR International has been working in Ukraine since 2014 to support the decentralization reform. According to Magnus Liljeström, after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, there were a lot of initiatives from European municipalities and communities. They were interested in providing direct support and assistance to Ukrainian communities and cities.
“In fact, a partnership is not just a relationship between two municipalities or communities; at best, it is an impetus for cooperation between two stakeholders: representatives of civil society or business. That is, it is necessary to cover the entire community, not just a specific local government body,” said Magnus Liljeström.
In his speech, the SALAR International expert mentioned a successful example of cooperation between twin cities, the Slobozhanska community in the Kharkiv region and the Swedish municipality of Vännes. As part of the Cities 4 Cities | United 4 Ukraine project, they signed a cooperation agreement in June 2023.
“This Swedish municipality is very small, with only 9,000 inhabitants, but we should not compare only on the basis of population. Vännes municipality employs about 1000 people. Despite this, municipalities in Sweden offer a lot of different services. And this particular municipality provides educational services to the entire region around it, with more than 1400 students,” Magnus Liljeström shared the success story and added: “So we are, to a certain extent, performing this function of pimping. In the case of this partnership, after the first meeting, there was interest. And after the meeting in Sweden, we parted ways as friends. And now this relationship continues. Maybe there are no concrete projects yet, but it’s very important to just nurture these relationships to try to understand what we can do together.”
The Lviv Municipal Partnership Forum was held as a result of a year and a half of the Cities4Cities | United4Ukraine initiative, which helped establish 36 active Ukraine-EU partnerships. In particular, as part of the initiative, 13 Ukrainian communities have already launched partnerships with Swedish municipalities.
Cities 4 Cities | United 4 Ukraine are partnership initiatives that joined forces in September 2022. The project helps Ukrainian communities establish inter-municipal partnerships with municipalities in Europe. Cities 4 Cities was founded by the city of Sindelfingen (Germany) under the auspices of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. United 4 Ukraine was launched by SALAR International and the city of Lviv (Ukraine) with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Strategic partners: Association of Ukrainian Cities, All-Ukrainian Association of Amalgamated Territorial Communities.
Photo: Roman Baluk
The Lviv Municipal Partnership Forum is an annual event of the Cities 4 Cities | United 4 Ukraine initiative, which aims to promote the idea of intermunicipal partnerships between municipalities in Ukraine and the EU by sharing best practices, strengthening cooperation, opening opportunities and coordinating efforts between national, international and local players for the rapid recovery from the Russian war and Ukraine’s European integration at the local level.
The forum is supported by the USAID Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI) and the Support to Decentralization in Ukraine project of the Swedish Association of Local and Regional Authorities (SALAR International).