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Strategic Plan “Chisinau – 2020” - Digest

Urbanproiect Institute and Center for Strategic Studies and Reforms prepared, within the first stage of work on the new general development plan of Chisinau (September 2005 / January 2006), draft Strategic Plan of Socio-Economic Development of Chisinau till 2020 (the main goal, priorities and forecast of main development indicators, mechanisms of implementation). Results of preparatory – analytical (Studiu diagnostic, 2003) and conceptual (Concepžia planului urbanistic general, 2004) – stages were taken into account.  

Examination of the Strategic Plan by the city administration was preceded by public discussion of main ideas of the Strategy by experts, businessmen through opinion polls, as well as in mass media. The draft Strategy is available on our website. Practically, a task is being set to use the strategic plan as a platform for trilateral partnership (authority – business – population) as to the principle issue – what Chisinau should be and what actions are necessary to undertake consecutively for the sake of its prosperity. 

The starting points. In the course of Europeanization of Moldova, its capital, Chisinau, undoubtedly holds a key role. It is an administrative, economic and cultural center of the country, whose experience and capacities of innovations is of national importance. Starting positions of the city as regards its renovation till 2020 have been considerably aggravated by problems of the transition period. Since regulators and resources of centralized economy that the implementation of the General Plan of Chisinau elaborated during 1986-1989 was based upon, vanished after 1990, the city experienced many spontaneous and contradictory processes. On the one hand, Chisinau has been quickly becoming internationalized (migratory exchange, access to Internet and vehicular communication, flows of capital, goods and information, renovation of services and other), business activity rose steeply and network of private educational and healthcare units widened sharply. On the other hand, though, the city lost its future guidelines and planned character of development, which showed through industrial stagnation (the principle city-constituent basis under conditions of planned economy), unordered employment, increasing social inequality, chaotic construction and utilization of urban territory, motorization costs, obsolete transport and engineering infrastructure. 

Understanding of the nature and orientation of changes in the post-socialist Chisinau is important for planning of its future. First, it should be considered that Chisinau as a large city (layout, industry, housing stock, etc.), unlike other capitals of Eastern Europe, took shape under socialism, during 60-80’s mainly, when its population trebled. Self-destruction of the city’s motive forces made its life more difficult in many respects during the transition period, when Chisinau experienced both crisis shocks (bankruptcy of big enterprises, unemployment and outflow of qualified labor force from the city, decrease in welfare, collapse of municipal economy) and uncontrolled transformation of urban environment. 

The main goal and priorities. Strategy and tactics of Chisinau’s development till 2020 should be aimed at achievement of an image of successful “future Chisinau” that the population desires. The key idea of this new, constructive period is to raise Chisinau’s competitiveness within the all-European city network. Hence – the main goal: Chisinau-2020 overcomes provinciality and positions itself as one of regional centers of South-Eastern Europe. 

Achievement of the set goal (“Chisinau is a competitive European city”) depends largely on the urban community’s system of values. Therefore, it is important so that inhabitants of Chisinau would consider their city as a socio-cultural value. Opinion polls conducted during the initial stage of work on the General Plan point unambiguously to the one-vector vital aims of city-dwellers who expect their welfare to improve during stable development of the city – its economic, educational and spiritual potential, improvement of quality of urban environment and provision of secure living in the city. 

Such an understanding of the future look of their city by Chisinau inhabitants fits the framework of the “City” concept, basic for the early XXI century in European urbanistics, quite well. According to the concept, the basis of progress of a modern European city is city development itself as an integral environment of living and business activity rather than industry or other sectors of production. 

When orienting at Europeanization of Chisinau, priority directions of raising of its competitiveness based on the new quality of urban environment presume:

·      Emphasizing Chisinau’s positioning as a regional center of Southeastern Europe. Iasi, Galati, Odessa, Vinnitsa and Chernovtsi are its competitors in this sub-region. But Chisinau is the only state capital among them. And in order to strengthen its positions as such, it is necessary to make international efforts and relations more active (political, investment, financial, informational, etc.); to reconstruct transport complex and services; to ensure political stability, cultural and intellectual environment, adequate municipal administration;

·         Improving quality of urban environment based both on dimensional and planning approaches, reconstruction of dwelling and recreation zones, transport and technical infrastructure, as well as preservation of historical and cultural heritage of the city;

·         Modernizing the city’s economy based on development of export-oriented, high-tech production, industry, strengthening of the service sector and support of small business oriented at needs of the city inhabitants;

·         Improving city inhabitants’ welfare – high employment, sufficient incomes, qualitative housing stock and municipal economy, social support of those who need it;

·         Improving educational and cultural potential through development of international relations in such fields as science, education and culture, adoption of European forms and standards of continuous education, including retraining of labor force, development of the city as a cultural center;

·         Ensuring secure living in the city as regards energy, man-caused disasters, ecological and public security, public order, counteracting dissemination of social diseases;

·         Improving city administration - based on principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government both in relations with the Government and business (decentralization of functions, fiscal decentralization), as well as in relations with the population, including its “participation process” in making and executing decisions. 

At the heart of the given – in form of seven priorities – decomposition of the main goal of the Strategic Plan (see Scheme) lie, based on opinion polls, values of Chisinau’s community, interests of basic groups of inhabitants – blue- and white-collars, businessmen, state officials, politicians and public figures, “scientists and specialists”, “cultural workers”, active youth and pensioners. 

Development scenarios. While planning advancement towards the “Chisinau-2020” model, two possible scenarios can be realistically considered: inertial scenario (not excluding elimination of the most critical problems generated by the crisis of 90’s within its framework) and constructive scenario aimed at overcoming provinciality and improving urban environment of Chisinau during the process of achievement of the strategy’s main goal – raising of pro-European competitiveness of Chisinau based on implementation of the “City” concept. 

Main components of economic growth are as follows: steady raising of investments to real sector of economy, first of all – export-oriented, raw materials- and energy-efficient production, market services and infrastructure; increasing employment and real incomes of the population; introduction of ecology-friendly technologies and transition to innovation processes in production and management – multipliers of the city development. 

Within the framework of the constructive scenario, issues concerning improvement of urban environment quality were thoroughly worked over: dimensional and planning development; social block, including strategy of housing policies; structural modernization of economy; integration of Chisinau into information-oriented community; improvement of management of the city’ sustainable development. 

New solutions for the future. Unlike practice of the Soviet period, the Strategy proposes to construct the general plan counting on the regulatory orientation of activities of all – state, municipal, private and public – “players” on the city’s territory, rather than on directives. The goal is to ensure balance of interests. Resting upon the internal potential of the city mainly presumes city development within the existing limits, zoning of the city’s territory through legal means; transition from monopolar system of urbanization to the multipolar one; reconstruction of industry and development of small business aimed at the city’s needs; orientation of most traffic-flows towards public transport; creation of a social housing municipal fund; paying attention to “public areas” (squares, parks, tourist zones); creation of objects ensuring execution by the city of functions of a capital; integration of Chisinau into information-oriented society. 

As a whole, while substantiating Chisinau-2020 Strategy, its developers relied on the key directive of the European Charter of Cities (1994): “Since all cities differ, each city should find its own path towards sustainable development. As regards all directions of our policy, we will rely on principles of sustainable development (social justice, dynamic economy and ecological stability) and use advantages, internal potential and attractiveness of our cities as a basis for locally oriented strategies”. 

Strategic plan within the system of municipal administration. Once examined and passed in accordance with established procedure, strategic plan of socio-economic development of the city becomes a framework document for the whole municipal administration system. 

A part of the Strategic Plan to be executed by municipal administrative subdivisions is detached as a separate Administration Action Plan with a view to implement the Strategic Plan in 4 years term with detailed elaboration of the first year. This action plan is a list of measures, tasks, realization of which is assumed by administrative subdivisions during the nearest 1-4 years to implement actions of the strategic plan. 

The action plan is approved through a decree of the city’s Mayor and thereby becomes a normative document of direct action. Measures of the approved Action Plan are considered during preparation of the draft budget and serve as a basis for corresponding subdivisions of the city administration to apply for financing. Action Plan of the city administration for realization of the Strategic plan during the next year can be adjusted by the Municipal Council, once the budget is passed and limits of financing are established.