Interview with Erika Jacsmenik, Senior Expert of Urban Development, EDC Debrecen Urban and Economic Development Center

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Which are the most relevant and interesting aspects of visited GPs? What will you bring home from this visit?

"Hello! My name is Erika Jacsmenik. I work for EDC Debrecen Non-profit Limited Company as Senior Expert of Urban Development. I am participating in the PROSPERA project as a thematic expert.

Through the good practices presented, we were able to visit Aristotelis in Greece virtually. Seeing the beautiful landscapes, the fascinating natural environment, we thought with regret that we could not travel there in person.

Two of the good practices proved to be interesting to us. They were the Heritage Hikes and the Kouzina Project. Both show similarities to what we operate in Debrecen.

The Heritage Hikes good practice is related to the preservation and promotion of both natural and cultural heritage, which is a challenge for Debrecen as well. In our Wooded lands, the thematic hiking trails serve the purpose of the preservation of natural heritage, supplemented by awareness raising activities, mainly for school children.

This is important for us because our long-term goal is to develop Wooded lands as a recreational area, especially since relaxing and staying in the natural environment has become more important for city dwellers due to the pandemic. For further developments, we were inspired by the participatory governance of the mentioned good practice, that is the way the Municipality of Aristotelis involved local stakeholders - various organizations and residents in the operation of the Hiking routes.

The ambition to develop gastro-tourism as a leverage to drive sustainable development in peri-urban areas, was identified as a common challenge for Artistotelis and Debrecen, as stated in the PROSPERA Synthesis Report. Like the Kouzina Project, there are various gastro-festivals in Debrecen, but they are seasonal. We also try to take advantage of local gastronomic specialties, but it’s so amazing for us how Aristotelis’ team does! We can gain a lot of inspiration about how the local entrepreneurs are using the brands produced in the region, and also about the multi-stakeholder approach, that is how the municipality staff, the tourist organizations and hundreds of volunteers can collaborate efficiently in order to implement those remarkable gastro-festivals.

 An extra element of the Aristotelis Study visit for us was the common cooking in the frame of the Women’s Cooperatives good practice, which - in its form - is unusual among other field visits. Although the office conditions did not allow us to take part, altogether we had a great time at the Study visit in Aristotelis! Thank you for the experience!"