Austrians’ advice to Lithuania: don’t’ turn a town into a village and vice versa

DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

“How will Lithuania look like in 2030–2050, what will the towns be like, what direction will the business develop, how will we take care of the environment and culture are the issues relevant to every citizen, both for the private sector and for non-governmental organizations and for everyone who creates and thinks about Lithuania’s future. However, if we do not name the answers today, we will hardly have them in 2030. The most important thing is to find a common compromise and rational solutions as the Comprehensive Plan will become the country’s future development guidelines”, Vice-Minister of Environment Rėda Brandišauskienė says.

Focus on areas ranging from landscape to urbanization and communication

According to the organizer of the real situation analysis and the project coordinator, the head of UAB “Gaučė ir Ko”, dr. Kristina Gaučė, the IV forum of the Comprehensive Plan focused on issues of cultural heritage and landscape, and social infrastructure.

According to dr. K. Gaučė, even it is important to name the problems, but by concentrating only on them will be difficult to create Lithuania’s vision, so it is worth understanding core ambitions and values.

“For example, if we have named security as the country’s value, then our ambition is that no one will attack us, and the country’s vision – Lithuania is a safe country. People who attended the workshop also emphasized the importance of life quality, economic activity, national and spatial identity and security. Territorial cohesion in urban structures, territorial identity, Lithuanian maritime potential, regional specialization, healthy lifestyle, social inclusion, landscape authenticity and, above all, co-operation to achieve these goals, were also discussed”, dr. K. Gaučė points out.

The experience of foreign countries – the culture of discussion, cohesion between states and cities

“Looking at Lithuania from the EU perspective, it seems that there is still a struggle between the town and the countryside. Perhaps most of the country’s population associates itself with nature and its resources, and that is part of our identity, but we should understand where the countryside ends and where the town begins. Lithuanian towns are not only internal development engines in cultural and economic sense, but also the window to the world and should be strengthened to become visible and competitive. Paradoxes, such as, people living in Vilnius suburbs own several cars and complain that there is no well-developed public transport infrastructure, because they want to have excellent communication, spoil and weaken Vilnius as a city”, Daiva Jakutytė-Walangitang, urbanist at the Austrian Institute of Technology, says.

According to her, the practice of foreign countries, which have also developed contemporary plans, shows that there is no one right example or template, there are only certain laws of successful development that allow avoiding long-term, hard-to-correct mistakes.

“As the examples from Germany and Switzerland show, the most important thing is that those who created the comprehensive plan of the country would participate in its further processes and develop it. For example, in the case of Lithuania, it could be a state-owned company “Lietuvos Geležinkeliai” or the largest real estate companies that have accumulated extensive expertise and are able to assess the future development of these sectors and help shape the plan so that it makes sense for the country. Lithuania could also take the example of cooperation between Germany and Switzerland and join forces with other Baltic countries to become more competitive on a European scale”, D. Jakutytė-Walangitang says.

She remarks that great efforts to change the culture of the debate have been made in Germany and Switzerland.

“It is important to see the Comprehensive Plan as a complex process, not just a static plan that has to be implemented in some way. Different views and expectations expressed in public discussions, raised ambitious plans for decades, considered values of the country can crystallize the common vision and concrete striving steps for Lithuania”, D. Jakutytė-Walangitang shares a recipe for success.

About the Comprehensive Plan:

The Comprehensive Plan of the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania will become one of the main documents of the development of the country, its solutions will be valid until 2030, and the proposed vision – even until 2050. Decisions are crucial in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This state-level change plan is designed not only to provide a completely new long-term vision for the country, but also to reduce the number of current strategies and integrate their solutions into the new plan. In total, there are three stages of the Comprehensive Plan: real situation analysis, development of the concept (general solutions), preparation of real solutions. The new Comprehensive Plan has to be prepared and approved in 2020.

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