Community Forum in Moscow: experts discuss the role of civil society in national projects
In Moscow, the final Community Forum of 2018 took place, and during discussions there, representatives from state authorities, business and civil society discussed strategy for developing the country through the implementation of national projects.
The Secretary of the Public Chamber, Valery Fadeev, announced that the Public Chambers ensure societal control over the implementation of national projects, designed to fulfil the national goals which were designated in the May Presidential Decree. The monitoring of implementation of national projects, is guaranteed by regional working groups, which will be created by the resolution of the Council of Public Chambers of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.
During discussions at the final Community forum in Moscow, national projects in the spheres of health care, education, demography, digital economy, ecology and development of rural areas and the urban environment.
Member of the Public Chamber, Sergei Rybalchenko, said that the national projects are different from current activities in that they are aimed at bringing about qualitative change to the environment. The expert believes that in order to achieve the goals set, it is necessary to learn how to design plans. In Rybalchenko’s opinion, the aim of the national project should be “measurable, changeable and ambitious”. The member of the Public Chamber emphasised that whilst the aim of the project ‘Demography’ to increase population growth is ambitious, they should still strive for it. Rybalchenko believes it is impossible to take on this challenge using only state means, rather it must involve society as a whole. In the next few years, it is necessary to do everything to involve societal representatives in this work. The expert emphasised that the Public Chamber is ready to become a coordinating space for societal initiatives which will facilitate the implementation of the national projects.
The Deputy Director of the Ministry for Labour and Social Security, Svetlana Petrova, said that ‘Demography’ is a conceptual project and all citizens of the country are its clients from birth to old age. It is aimed at the development of the non-commercial and state sector in the spheres of social services, education, healthy ways of living and the development of sport. She highlighted that the project is starting in 2019 and then there are six years in which to perfect its undertakings.
Vsevolod Vukolov, the Director of the Federal Service for Labour and Employment, said that the national project ‘Labour Productivity and Employment Support’ will become the core of economic development. He explained that the formation of the project was preceded by active work with enterprises in six regions, who expressed a desire to modernise their production. As a result, Vukolov said, the staff structure and approach to manufacturing changed at the enterprises and it became clear that the existing configuration of the project allowed them to move forward. Similar work is planned next year in 16 regions, and by 2020 the number of participating subjects of the Russian Federation will be 26. Vukolov emphasised that currently employment services are not sufficiently client-oriented, and state structures count on the support of the public in developing new standards for these services.
The reverse side of increasing productivity is the threat of people losing jobs, the member of the Public Chamber, Elena Topoleva, said. The structures of civil society can play a serious role in solving this problem. She highlighted that that doesn’t just mean non-profit organisations, but also small businesses and social enterprises – these all offer new opportunities for professional employment and retraining of older citizens.
Topoleva noted that public councils and expert groups have been created for the national projects. These channels, through which society can contribute suggestions, and she emphasised that proposals will be closely examined. Topoleva also noted that in the majority of projects, civil society institutions are already involved in one way or another and a large amount of attention is paid to the roles of non-profit organisations.
So far, the state sees representatives of the non-profit sector as assistants and carriers of innovative practices, Topoleva said, but another function is emerging amongst NGOs. She gave the example of the ‘Starost v radost’ Foundation, which the state trusts to be one of the main players working on systemic changes in the social sphere, namely introducing a system of long-term care. “This is a unique practice and we should closely follow the implementation of this project,” Topoleva stressed.
In October 2018, the main activities of the government until 2024 were confirmed. The document particularly talks about socially-oriented non-profit organisations (SO NGO), social enterprise and charitable and voluntary activities. The government has emphasised that these are essential to improving the quality and accessibility of social services and that they use the potential of public initiatives. Earlier the government noted the importance of the participation of SO NGOs in the implementation of the national projects.
The results of the two-day Community Forum were summed up on 3 November at the final plenary session ‘National Projects: how to ensure a breakthrough’.