Megaprojects such as infrastructure development or industrial parks can have a major impact on the economic, social and environmental conditions of entire cities and their residents, for whom the investments should ideally generate benefits. A study of urban and regional development in Belarus has enabled UN-Habitat to analyse integrated planning and implementation of urban development projects in the city of Minsk and development of a new industrial park outside the city.
The China-Belarus Industrial Park ‘Great Stone’ targets global economic development with local impact. Up to 145, 0000 people will live and work in the 207 sq. km area of the park, a key element of the Chinese Silk and Road Economic Belt initiative. The Park will develop the potential of Belarus as a link between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. Companies operating out of the park will receive preferential financial support and other incentives, and in turn will be expected to comply with strict government regulations aimed at protecting the Park, the environment, and the livelihoods of residents in 15 villages and natural reserves located within park territory.
Companies already residing at the Park demonstrate how the Park can generate employment and encourage innovation for traditional industries. Until recently, the MAZ Minsk Automobile Plant of the Minsk automotive cluster did not produce its own engines. Now MAZ engines and super capacitors produced at the Park are being used by eBusses on the streets of Minsk.
While UN-Habitat is not involved in the development of the Park its research on urban and regional development in the Minsk city region has been useful in understanding how sustainable urban development is possible in the context of mega urban projects.
The Committee on Housing and Land Management of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) is supporting countries in the region to prepare country profiles for housing, urban development and land policy reforms. The profiles will help governments to analyse their housing, urban development and land management policies, strategies, and mechanisms. At the core of the country profiles is an analytical study of housing, urban development and land administration and management written by international experts and peer-reviewed.
So far, the Economic Commission for Europe, UNECE and UN-Habitat have organised three fact finding missions to Belarus comprising of expert meetings and policy dialogues. In June 2018, UNDP and UN-Habitat jointly organized a workshop on implementing International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning and its adaptation to regional planning (IG-UTP) to establish national priorities for the Republic of Belarus and learn from international best practices. The first country profile of Belarus was published in 2008 and focused on the housing sector and land management. The Country Profile for Belarus will be officially launched in May 2019 at workshop to be organized UNECE, UNDP and UN-Habitat.