Kaunas Strategic Development Plan – the vision of the city for the people

The efficient and systematic development of Kaunas and the increase of the city’s competitiveness and attractiveness in Lithuania and abroad were amounted into the Strategic Development Plan (SDP) until 2030. More than a hundred experts have prepared an ambitious vision, goals and directions for the growth of the city. Three of them – prof. Eugenijus Valatka, Marius Horbačauskas and Rusnė Šilerytė share their impressions from behind the scenes.

Over 100 experts working on this

“Preparation of a strategic development plan is a big and responsible job. We are grateful to the experts who, with their knowledge, competent opinions and insights, helped shape the vision until 2030. Each of them has significantly contributed to the further strengthening of Kaunas as a sustainable and civic city, a leader in business and innovation, a modern and inclusive cultural center.” – said Tadas Metelionis, Director of Kaunas City Municipality Administration.

For more than a year, over 100 experts have asked questions and made suggestions on the city’s economic growth, sustainable territorial development, strengthening sustainable mobility and the green course, health and social security, education and sport, culture, tourism and even more.

Working groups, meetings, public discussions with Kaunas residents and representatives of city communities, have analyzed the current situation and available resources, opinion polls and data analyzes were conducted as well.

Infrastructure – for talented people

“Global practice shows that the city’s prosperity is inseparable from an inclusive environment, incoming people, foreign professionals and new businesses. We have all the needed conditions for efficient development in Kaunas and now an ambitious vision for the future has been confirmed.” – spoke KTU Rector and former President of the Lithuanian University Rectors’ Conference. prof. Eugenijus Valatka.

The expert of the working group working with Strategic Development Plan notes that the implemented infrastructure projects, the development of different areas, and the creation of a favorable legal and social environment in Kaunas all make up a strong starting point. An important task is to fill the existing infrastructure with talented people who create high value and implement innovations.

In order to increase the attractiveness of Kaunas not only in Lithuania, but also internationally, a partnership between the city governments and other organizations, institutions and communities is necessary. This allows the city to meet all the different expectations of the population and business, and the unification of common insights, goals and growth directions strengthens cooperation between them.

A plan created by the community

“The success of Kaunas Strategic Development Plan is guaranteed because it is not imposed by someone, but created by the city community itself. Representatives of various profiles, experiences and ways of thinking took part in the preparation of the project, therefore the creation of a common vision is one of the biggest achievements. Another one is concrete and measurable goals, directions, action plans and clear indicators.” – said Marius Horbačauskas, President of the Kaunas Region Association of Industrialists and Employers.

According to him, during the preparation of Kaunas Strategic Development Plan until 2030, discussions took place with the public society and representatives of different communities. The opinions of each expert in the working group were taken into account, verified and most of it settled in the SDP.

Kaunas and the Kaunas region is a strong industrial centre, but it is important not to lose our track. In order for the outlook of the city to remain positive, according to experts, it is necessary to grow industry, develop new products and increase exports. This rises new competitive advantages and increases the attractiveness of living, working and raising families here.

International Insights for the Green Course

Kaunas’ strategic development plan has been supplemented with international experience. Expert Rusnė Šilerytė agreed to share hers, she is actively working on the implementation of the circular economy in Dutch cities and has contributed to the preparation of the Amsterdam Strategic Plan.

According to her, the biggest challenge for Lithuania and at the same time for Kaunas is the lack of a unified system of data collection, storage and usage. This complicates the processes, but the goals and indicators set in Kaunas SDP is a very big and mature step in the right direction.

“I tried to change the old-fashioned attitude that the goal of the circular economy is to reduce waste. The real aim is to reduce economic dependence on the extraction of primary resources domestically and especially outside the country.

The green course covers a very wide range of topics. It is not just about encouraging people to sort rubbish or choose sustainable goods and packaging, but also about the impact of business on resource use. I am satisfied with the achieved result and I wish the city of Kaunas a smooth implementation of the plan.” – said R. Šilerytė, a researcher at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands.

The expert is also positive about Lithuania being not too far from the vision of a circular economy like other Western European countries. Lithuanians tend to save, reuse and dispose of less, so economic and planning processes remain flexible. As a result, it is easier to change them in our country than where it is quite stagnant.

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