Representatives of five Serbian municipalities - Bački Petrovac, Kuršumlija, Mali Zvornik, Petrovac na Mlavi and Sjenica - participated in the study visit to the Republic of Ireland, one of the best examples of national and local planning framework and utilization of external (EU) funds. Sharing great practices in local governenace and local economic planning from Europe was one of the main activities within Public and Private Finance for Development project, supported by Slovak Republic and implemented by UNDP.
The mayors of Petrovac na Mlavi and Kuršumlija, municipal administration staff and representatives of Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities of Serbia had the opportunity to learn more about Irish planning framework, national planning structure and community-led organizations and initiatives. The participants visited Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government where they met with Mr. John Paul Phelan, Minister of State, and his team responsible for Local Government and Electoral Reform. After getting familiar with the Project Ireland 2040, the participants had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Paul Dunne, Executive Director of the Local Government Management Agency, who presented the specific role of the agency in facilitating local development. The highlight of the study tour were visits to the local communities of Kilmallock and Croom, where participants met with representatives of Ballyhoura Development and Croom Community Development Agency. Mr. Padraig Casey, Chief Executive Officer of Ballyhoura Development gave an overview of the history of rural development in the region and presented challenges in revising organisational model that facilitates cooperation and coordination of activities across multitude of statutory bodies. Ballyhoura Development was the perfect example of how community-led, bottom up initiatives can turn the marginalized regions into world-known agri-tourism attractions.