65 hometown associations and local public authorities want more sustainable communities

April 19, 2024

Representatives from 65 communities advocate for concrete actions for sustainable communities at the Alliance of Hometown Associations (AABM) Forum on 19 April 2024. Communities aim to use renewable energy sources, build with environmentally friendly materials, implement recycling programs, promote organic farming, use biomass, and clean transport to reduce carbon emissions. 

The event also took stock of the organisation’s first year of activity and set out prospects. The Forum brought together over 90 participants, including Moldovan government officials, representatives of civil society, local public authorities, development partners and was organised with the support of UNDP Moldova and funding from the Government of Switzerland. Such meetings are held every six months.

“The partnership signed in the summer of 2023 between the Alliance and the Bureau for Relations with Diaspora has contributed to increasing capacity for action, promoting dialogue, building partnerships, identifying community needs and implementing joint projects between local communities and diaspora associations. An example of this is the ‘DAR 1+3’ Program, which creates a sustainable framework for the engagement of fellow citizens in the diaspora and highlights the role of hometown associations in creating an enabling environment for constructive discussions between community-diaspora-LPA members for sustainable local development,” said Ana Calinici, State Secretary of the Government of the Republic of Moldova. 

Another topic discussed at the forum was the effectiveness of cooperation tools with diaspora members and increasing the absorption capacity of funds for local development, with the diaspora acting as a catalyst. 

“Switzerland believes that a civil society with strong community structures has significant potential to contribute to sustainable community development and strengthen democracy in Moldova. Civil society organisations contribute to the accountability of public authorities and institutions and give a voice to the voiceless by ensuring the participation of excluded groups. This is why it is so important that they are systematically included in the decision-making,” said Guido Beltrani, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Moldova.

“I'm delighted to witness the fruitful outcome of our joint efforts with Swiss Cooperation Office and Diaspora Relations Bureau in pioneering a unique model of engagement with the diaspora – the Hometown Associations. This innovative model has not only significantly advanced social cohesion across more than 200 local communities but has also united like-minded individuals who share a common dedication to the development of their hometowns and villages”, said Daniela Gasparikova, UNDP Resident Representative to the Republic of Moldova.

In its first year of activity, the Alliance of Hometown Associations concluded partnership agreements with the Bureau for Relations with Diaspora, the LEADER National Network and the Green Energy Cluster of Romania. 

“It is worth noting that during 2023, the 60 Alliance members raised a total of US$951,000 in community funding. This is why cooperation between hometown associations and local public authorities is a strong tool in improving the quality of life in communities. It is the only way to find solutions to local problems, increase social cohesion, encourage civic participation and citizen engagement in local decision-making, identify opportunities for efficient use of available resources and attract funding. All this is the basis for building sustainable communities,” said Violeta Ciuperca, Executive Director of the Alliance of Hometown Associations of Moldova. 

The Alliance, thanks to the support of the project “Strengthening social cohesion through inclusive participation and empowered citizens”, implemented by UNDP Moldova and funded by the Swiss Government, will financially support at least 10 sustainability initiatives. 

The model of diaspora engagement in local development will also be extended to the left bank of the Nistru River with the support of the EU-UNDP Confidence Building Measures Programme. 

The Alliance of Hometown Associations is an umbrella organisation created with the support of UNDP Moldova and the Government of Switzerland and composed of 65 representatives of hometown associations.