The “FRIENDSHIP-Strengthening EU-Mongolia Friendship through Equitable, Resilient and Innovative Growth in Darkhan City” project was officially launched today. An impressive number of dignitaries from Darkhan-Uul Province, Mongolian government institutions, EU member embassies and the EU Ambassador to Mongolia assisted in the hybrid kick-off event that will last until tomorrow.

The overall financial envelope of EUR 3 million contains a financial support of 2.7 million provided by the EU Commission. The activities will be implemented over a 36 months period led by a consortium of Darkhan-Uul Province Municipality (City) as Lead Partner, NALAS and the School of Agroecology and Business of the Mongolian University of Life Sciences.

The overall objective of the FRIENDSHIP project is to promote inclusive and sustainable growth of Darkhan city and its province, using collaborative multi-stakeholder participatory and knowledge sharing approaches for improving resilience, accelerating digital transition, fostering innovation and promoting employment opportunities.


The EU Ambassadress to Mongolia, Ms. Axelle Nicaise, stressed the expected results of the project to contribute to social cohesion, the creation of new business start-ups, employment opportunities and the improvement of quality public service delivery to the local population. In this context, the FRIENDSHIP project supported under EuropeAid’s thematic line “Local Authorities: Partnerships for sustainable cities 2021”, represents a window of opportunity for Darkhan to become a national model city for urban sustainability and liveability, with a vision of becoming a “smart and green city” by 2028.

NALAS Executive Director, Mr. Kelmend Zajazi, related to the excitement that member associations expressed in participating in the implementation process of the project with notions such as green, inclusive, smart and sustainable development being key terms for bringing all stakeholders and partners together. Sharing and developing knowledge on a daily basis as a characteristic and distinctive trait of the NALAS network, is expected to be reflected in the FRIENDSHIP project. “Bringing together the expertise of our Network and Uul Darkhan, we will jointly create a new vision, we will develop new solutions for the common development challenges and we will create bridges for future partnerships beyond this project”, said Mr. Zajazi.


The contribution of NALAS to implement the project was addressed by Mr. Joachim Roth from NALAS Secretariat. In this context, the development of the network as a unique knowledge hub in South-East Europe with support from the international donor community (SDC, GIZ, ADA, EU) and its capacity was emphasised, feasible know-how exchange related to methodologies, processes and successful approaches related to inclusive and sustainable development highlighted, which bear the potential for joint learning and innovative solutions for common challenges. NALAS as a network itself and member of renown networks operating at European and Global scale such as CEMR-PLATFORMA, Energy Cities, DeLoG, the Congress of Local & Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), will contribute to build bridges for future partnerships.

The final part of the project introduction to the participants was reserved for the Mongolian University of Life Science projecting the development potential that lies within Darkan-Uul province with regard to its natural and human resources. The last two speakers from Darkhan-Uul Provice’ Wheelchair Users and Youth Association, expressed their high hopes of tangible results to be obtained for the benefit of the most vulnerable ones and by creating an environment conducive to improve the living conditions of the population.