Nine frontrunner cities under the M4EG network hold the first regional sensemaking to maximize impact and effectiveness of their work

Brussels, 27 April 2023 – Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG), a joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), brought together Mayors of nine cities across Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in Brussels for a first-of-a-kind sensemaking session, to reflect on their current portfolio of work, exchange with peers, maximize effectiveness and generate intelligence by asking: Why run this particular set of projects at this point in time?

Our pioneer municipalities – Areni (Armenia), Batumi (Georgia), Ceadîr-Lunga (Moldova), and Kutaisi (Georgia) presented their portfolio journey and thematic focus – Sustainable Tourism​ for Areni, Start-up Ecosystem for Batumi, Energy Transition for Ceadîr-Lunga and Eco-Smart City​ for Kutaisi – with mayors and their teams taking stock of learning and implementation so far.

Husik Sahakyan, Areni Mayor, commented, “We conducted a more in-depth series of consultations compared to previous similar initiatives with different stakeholders to collect information and start building a picture of how people see the future of tourism development in their communities. It has tweaked our vision completely.”

Archil Chikovani, Batumi Mayor, mentioned, “Batumi has a solid will and capability to become a startup champion, but there are so many things that we need to learn as a team, we have already gone a long way in shaping a new vision for the city as an active shaper in attracting new start up talents and retaining higher skilled youth, and with our portfolio projects we hope to be on a path to diversify our future economy beyond today’s traditional sectors.”

Anatolie Topal, Ceadîr-Lunga Mayor, said, “Our portfolio mission is for Ceadir-Lunga to transition to renewable energy with more local energy sources and energy independence. This is of utmost importance to Moldova at this point with an energy crisis, and we hope that our municipality can contribute our share and demonstrate how this can be done at the local level.”

Ioseb Khakhaleishvili, Kutaisi Mayor, added, “A city is a living organism; you can’t treat one issue hoping to receive an overarching outcome. Hence, we looked at Kutaisi from different angles, and now we want to explore an eco-smart path and how it can benefit our citizens and be a more future-ready city.”

Five more cities from the second cohort, namely Gyumri, Icherisheher, Kapan, Khirdalan, Mykolaiv, joined the regional sensemaking to focus on dynamic management exploration.

Gérald Audaz, Head of the Economic Development, Connectivity and the Green Transition team in Eastern Partnership countries at DG NEAR, European Commission, said, “We can see that the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative and its portfolio approach is guiding cities towards sustainable changes, in line with European and international best practice. The portfolios will help cities catalyse further public and private investments and tap into the opportunities offered by our Economic and Investment Plan”.

Georges van Montfort, Deputy Director at UNDP office in Brussels, said, “Municipalities from the M4EG network are testing new approaches in international development, moving beyond traditional project and single sector approaches to a systemic whole-of-place transformation. We are working alongside and learning together with the municipalities on this journey.

The Portfolio Journey is a two to three-year long program for in-depth learning and dynamic implementation under the M4EG initiative. The program is based on systems thinking, which uses a “portfolio approach” to address complex problems that cannot be solved through traditional project management methods alone. The municipalities participating in the program receive implementation funds of up to €225,000, and each has support from dedicated personnel from Chora and UNDP to assist with portfolio design, activation and management. The portfolio approach seeks to diversify risks and attract additional partnerships and funding opportunities for the individual cities/towns.

For more information, please see this M4EG Portfolio Journey Brief (April, 2023).


The M4EG Facility draws on the Mayors for Economic Growth Initiative, launched and funded by the European Union (EU) in 2017. Since 2021, the EU-funded M4EG Facility has been managed by UNDP in close cooperation with the EU, local authorities and a range of partners.

For media inquiries:

The European Commission/DG NEAR:

Mr. Thibault Charlet, Programme Manager, Digital and Local Economic Development, DG NEAR Unit C1,


Mr. Anton Sydorenko, M4EG Facility Communications Lead,