SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.

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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “ENABLING CONSERVATION THROUGH DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT: POLICIES, PUBLICS, AND EXPERTISE”, NEW DELHI


Organized by Jindal Global University, India, and supported by EUNIC, the Danish Cultural Institute, the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Embassy of France in India, the conference on September 27-28, 2023, was the closing activity of The Restoration Toolbox project of EUNIC. The event explored how the field of conservation today has moved beyond its traditional boundedness to include the material, the techno-political, the social and the economic within its discursive frameworks.

Sevdalina Voynova, Sofia Development Association, was invited as a guest speaker (online) at the panel “Publics, governance and policy in urban heritage conservation and adaptive reuse”. Sevdalina shared Sofia experiences with urban regeneration and renovations, including Toplocentrala, the open-air stage in St. Troitsa park and others, as a case study of meaningful citizen engagement, site-specific and place making interventions and sustainable business models.

      

FOCUS ON REFUGEE INTEGRATION AND PUBLIC SECURITY IN SOFIA

On 26.09.2023 SDA hosted a meeting of the Monitoring Committee at the Sofia Municipal Council on Penalties and Detention. The Commission includes experts from different directorates and institutions in the municipality who work in the field of internal order and security, crime prevention within groups at risk, social assistance, etc. At the invitation of the committee, SDA presented its activities in the field of integration of refugees and migrants, the Bureau for Information and Services for Third-Country Nationals, as well as various issues related to the coordination and management of integration processes in the city. The participants discussed possibilities to track more effectively the integration itineraries of international status holders who have settled in the capital so that they can receive timely and necessary integration services, as well as to ensure that they will not become victims of crime. The meeting was also attended by the Ombudsperson of Sofia Municipality, the institution is key for ensuring equal access of refugees and migrants to public services and protection of their rights.

The meeting is part of the capacity building activities of local authorities in the field of integration, included in the project "Support for the development of integration policies and services for refugees in Sofia", funded by UNHCR – Bulgaria.

The project Support for the Development of Integration Policy Framework and Service Provision for Refugees in Sofia is supported by UNHCR – Bulgaria.

 

      

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PLOUTOS MENTOR WORKSHOP IN OSIJEK, CROATIA

The partners in the PLOUTOS project took part in a three-day periodic team meeting and training of mentors in Osijek, Croatia, between 20 and 23 September 2023. The aim of the project is to increase the financial literacy of third-country nationals and to provide them with access to various financial services through language courses, entrepreneurship training, and setting up their own business to secure their livelihood in a new environment.

A focus of the meeting was the workshop for mentors and the implementation of the Practice Business Acceleration program. The program offers scenario-based self-paced simulated learning environment aimed to develop basic knowledge and business skills for migrant entrepreneurs. During the meeting, mentors from all partner countries received instruction and engaged in hands-on training to successfully coach the program participants in their countries.

In the next 11 months each project partner will pilot the Business Practice Program, which is offered free of charge to migrants and third country nationals (the online program is available in English and in 7 partner languages). If you would like to become a participant, follow SDA’s website for announcements on how to get involved. We will also publish information on the website of the Bureau for Integration and Services to Third-country Nationals. Join the Viber group of the Bureau to receive news and information on this and related initiatives.

      

 

PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

 

THE AEROSOLFD PROJECT WAS PART OF THE EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK CAMPAIGN


Sofia traditionally celebrates European Mobility Week. In 2023, the slogan of the campaign is: "Save energy". The aim is to promote the use of public transport, active mobility, the reduction of car dependence and the development of transport infrastructure for a just green transition.

On 22 September, in Europe's traditional Car-Free Day, part of the European Mobility Week campaign, we presented the AeroSolfd project, which develops new solutions for retrofitting confined spaces for cleaner air. Sofia is actively involved in the Aerosolfd project. A stop from the Sofia metro was selected to test innovative air purifiers, which are being developed within the project. The results of the operation of air filtration devices and the effect on dust pollution measurements from brake systems will be an important element of the development and rapid implementation of affordable solutions for retrofitting the urban environment.

AeroSolfd is co-funded by the European Union under Horizon Europe.

      

The project is funded under HORIZON Innovation Actions.

 

THE NEXT GENERATION OF SOFIA CITIZENS

On September 18, 2023, the public discussion "The Next Generation of Sofia Citizens" was held at the American Center of Sofia Library, organized by Sofia Development Association, with the participation of representatives of various refugee communities, Sofia Municipality, the UNHCR, the Bulgarian Red Cross, NGOs and students from Sofia.

Our guests and speakers were Valentina Solodkaya, who fled the war in Ukraine to Sofia; Rodi Namo, who was also forced to leave his home in Syria because of the war in his homeland; Fay Eshkevari from Iran, a journalist and women's rights advocate; Eric David Holsey from the USA, who found his way to Bulgaria because of his love of history and has been talking about our country's past on his blog for almost ten years. Special guests were also the students from the National School of Finance and Economics in Sofia, who in June this year won a hackathon organized by Sofia Development Association and dedicated to the topic of inclusion and integration of refugees. Photographs taken by Alexander Aleksov from the same high school during their school campaign were exhibited in the library.

Discussion moderator Yuriy Valkovski prompted our guests to reflect on the questions what does it mean to be a Sofiyaner? Is it easy to love Sofia? Favourite and less favorite spots in the city? Of course, the city looks different in the eyes and hearts of each of the "new" Sofiyaners. For Fay Eshkeveri, the urban environment is both welcoming, but also in certain spaces limiting. Sofia's parks and the opportunity to interact with different people, have access to arts, sports and entertainment within walking distance is of utmost importance to Eric. Music and dance make Rodi Namo smile and are one of his ways of making new friends. The feeling of freedom and safety, of being able to go out on the street without fear, and the ease with which children make new friendships, make Valentina Solodka's life meaningful today.

There are challenges in the path of the new residents, it was made clear by Boris Cheshirkov (UNHCR). Challenges both in terms of the development of the city and the integration of refugees. Nevertheless, there is a growing network of people and organizations that partner to welcome and support refugees. Specifically, Sofia Municipality has created many new forms of support and opportunities for integration, one of which is the Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals.

In the end, the participants in the discussion united around the idea of Sofia as an "open city", as Malina Edreva, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Science and Cultural Diversity at the Sofia Municipal Council, aptly put it. A city in which we must continue to create conditions and opportunities for dialogue and exchange between different communities and different cultures, without fear and without prejudice.

The discussion "The Next Generation of Sofia Citizens" takes place in the framework of the project "Support for the Development of Integration Policies and Services for Refugees in Sofia," funded by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Bulgaria. We will have more discussions and meetings with people who have chosen Sofia and Bulgaria to be their home. To get involved, follow our posts on this website, on the SofiaLab website, and become part of the Viber group through which we share news and event invitations.

The project Support for the Development of Integration Policy Framework and Service Provision for Refugees in Sofia is supported by UNHCR – Bulgaria.

      

      

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UPCOMING RRI-LEADERS FINAL POLICY CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS

Following three years of intensive work, co-creation events and cooperation with policy makers in four territories, the project RRI-LEADERS is coming to an end. The RRI-LEADERS final Policy Conference will bring together diverse participants from across Europe: project partners in ongoing or recently completed RRI-focused projects – RRI-LEADERS, RIPEET, WBC-INCO.NET, TetRRIS, TeRRItoria, ENTRANCES, stakeholders from the city of Sofia (Bulgaria), the region of Western Macedonia (Greece), the municipality of Thalwil (Switzerland), the city of Sabadell (Catalonia, Spain), RRI policy supporters, regional development agencies, business and industry associations, decision-makers in STI at different levels of governance (local, regional, national), as well as representatives of the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, the Committee of the Regions.

We invite partners and experts to join us in Brussels for the conference which will take place in the Committee of the Regions on 19 October 2023, from 9 am to 5 pm. Follow the link below to register for the event, https://www.rri-leaders.eu/2023/05/31/final-policy-conference/.

We look forward to meeting you there.
              

 

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