Ukrainians see ‘Lugano Declaration’ as vital to the country’s recovery
Six months after leaders of Ukrainian civil society presented the Civil Society Manifesto – Lugano Declaration, discussions continue among civil society organisations and leaders on plans for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Six months after leaders of Ukrainian civil society presented the Civil Society Manifesto – Lugano Declaration at Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, discussions continue among civil society organisations and leaders on plans for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
According to Oleksandr Solontay, one of the authors of the Mainfesto, there has been a deliberate process to engage with as wide a network of civil society organisations as possible over these months.
“These discussions are open to all,” he says. “In January 2023 alone, 215 new organisations signed the Manifesto, including a number of organisations established since Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, or organisations that have significantly scaled up their activities since then. As these are new active organisations with wide volunteer bases, it is vital that the Manifesto process remains inclusive to all.”
He relates that starting mid-March 2023, regional forums will take place in various Ukrainian regions as part of this process and will include as many civil society members as possible; the first one will be held in Kryvi Rih, the hometown of President Zelensky.
“In fact, we already have progress on the plan. For instance, we have had discussions on secondary and higher education, youth and gender policy, urban planning, and environmental protection as part of the project “Voice of Civil Society in the Formation and Implementation of the Plan for Reconstruction of Ukraine” (“Lugano Declaration”), supported by EED, in recent months,”he says.
He notes that there is now considerable appetite from civil society leaders and from state authorities for dialogue between the government and wider society, despite a pause in advancing the recovery plan in late 2022.
According to Solontay, Ukraine is at a turning point as societal, public and political spheres are in transformation. He believes that the population is now more open to discussions on a protracted war.
“Most Ukrainians now believe that martial law and the process of reconstruction and development, as well as Ukraine’s delivery on its commitments under the newly obtained EU candidate status, must go hand-in-hand. We have done this before – significant reforms were implemented in Ukraine during the 2014 to 2021 period, despite the ongoing war in Donbas. Now most people believe we need to do the same, just on a much broader scale,” he says.
For Solontay and other authors of the Lugano Manifesto, this means a significant revision of the initial recovery plan as presented in July, to allow for its partial implementation at this time of war.
“Ukrainians want an open process to develop the roadmap for recovery and they want civil society to play a central role. The Manifesto is vital to ensure Ukraine’s victory; it’s much more than a roadmap to be implemented after the war ends,” he says.
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