SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.



Sofia Development Association (SDA) organizes an international conference "Countermeasures to Urban Heat Islands" on March 1, 2024. The conference is held within the BeReady project under the Interreg Danube Region Program, which includes a consortium of 19 partners from 12 countries in the Danube region with lead partner SDA.

2023 was the hottest year on record. The recent unprecedented heatwaves demonstrate the acute need to strengthen the readiness and adaptive capabilities of society to cope with the effects of climate change and promote resilience at the urban level.

The conference is dedicated to science, design, engineering and public policies to effectively address the effects of urban heat islands in cities.

Among the speakers are Julian Popov, Minister of Environment and Water; Angelina Boneva, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works; Nadezhda Bobcheva; Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality for Ecology.



09:30 - 10:00     Registration 

10:00 - 11:00     Climate resilience policies and UHI 

        Julian Popov, Minister of Environment and Water

        Angelina Boneva, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, National Coordinator, EUSDR      

                                   Nadezhda Bobcheva, Sofia Deputy Mayor, Green System, Ecology and Land Use 

11:00 - 12:00     Approaches and solutions to overcome urban heat islands

        Dr. Bernhard Pucher, BOKU University, Vienna, "The Vienna Experience - Strategy for Urban Heat Islands"

        Branka Knezevic, Municipality of Podgorica, "The role of cities in overcoming heat island effects"

        Helena Jurašková, DEX Innovation Center, Czech Republic and European Institute for Technology and Innovation Health, "The  Climate-Health Nexus"

                                        Lydia Vitanova, PhD, GATE Institute, Sofia University St. K. Ohridski, "How can  urban data and scientific methods be used to estimate UHIs? Sofia case study“


12:00 - 12:30          Discussion

                                               Moderator of the event:
            Sevdalina Voynova, Sofia Development Association

This conference is supported as part of BeReady, an Interreg Danube Region Programme project co-funded by the European Union.


“Projects like LEAD Online are important as they address the root causes of hate speech and build awareness about the magnitude of the problem,” said Tommaso Chiamparino, policy officer in the Fundamental rights policy unit at the European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice, in his opening address to the international valorisation conference, organized by Sofia Development Team in Brussels on February, 6 2024.. The project has been very successful in building local multi-stakeholder partnerships in each of the seven partner countries, coordinating the efforts of various actors to tackle hate speech online in an engaging, informative, and effective way.

Hosted in the premises of the Regione Umbria in Brussels, the conference gathered more than seventy participants for a full day of panel discussions, interactive presentations and networking. Partners of the LEAD Online consortium highlighted the project achievements, an online hate speech self-assessment tool, ‘digital gardening’ trainings, local talks for raising awareness of hate speech online, and much more. Over 4000 people participated in activities and over 100,000 have been reached through social media and online publications. 

The star of the day was the interactive online game, HateOut! Game, which features animated scenarios enabling players to recognize hate speech incidence and to select the most appropriate response in each case.

The speakers and participants shared important insights about their experiences with cyberhate and the ways to inform and empower people, especially young students, to report and counter it. Key points highlighted in discussions focused on the need to combine online interventions with face-to-face learning events which engage participants in real-life interactions to counter hate speech and help to foster a sense of belonging amongst learners. Building inclusive, responsive digital tools and games is equally important: co-creating open educational resources with the participation of young people, especially from hard-to-reach groups and marginalized communities is critical for improving the efficacy of online hate speech/cyberhate interventions and reducing the creation and/or consumption of hateful content online.

After two years of intense collaboration, the LEAD Online project, coordinated by Sofia Development Association team has come to an end, but the consortium partners are already gearing up for new, more joint initiatives ahead. Follow the project at ;, check out our tools and games, and do reach out if you’d like to become part of an ambitious, knowledgeable community of like-minded people who are working to make our online and offline communities safer and more tolerant places.




          - Learn, Engage, Act: Digital tools to prevent and counter hate speech Online | LEAD-Online 
              Denitsa Lozanova, LEAD Online Coordinator, Sofia Development Association

               Prompting Awareness: The Hate Speech Self-Assessment Tool
               Konstantinos MantzosDAISSy Research GroupHellenic Open University

               - Hate Speech ontologies and Hate Speech Self-Assessment Tool
               Sylvia Liuti, FORMA.Azione - Italy

                - Learn, Engage, Act: Digital Tools to Prevent and Counter Hate Speech Online
                   Amina El-Gamal, project coordinator, ZARA, an Austrian counselling centre AgainstOnlineHate and AgainstRacism

Konstantinos Potsis, Project Manager, DAISSy Research Group, Hellenic Open University

                 Panel Discussion - LEAD-Online: Championing a Hate-Free Digital Future

              - Learn, Engage, Act: Digital Tools to Prevent and Counter Hate Speech Online
                Maria KORECK, project coordinator, DIVERSE Association, Romania

              - Learn, Engage, Act: Digital Tools to Prevent and Counter Hate Speech Online
                Summary and Way Forward




Facebook   @LEADOnlineEU

Instagram   leadonline_eu

Twitter   @LEADOnlineEU


The project is funded by the EU’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme.



Representatives from the Sofia Development Association attended the final conference for the ARGENTUM – Strategic Competencies for Silver Economy project. Hosted by InnoGrowth with the support of the Sofia Municipality, the conference delved into innovative solutions and strategies aimed at addressing the needs of an aging population.

The conference provided a comprehensive overview of the project, summarizing the mapping and creation of an innovative cluster dedicated to the silver economy, presenting a training course designed to integrate innovative services for aging individuals, and addressing the topic of educating local governments and providing e-lessons to target groups, among other topics.
During the conference, Svetlana Lomeva, Executive Director of the Sofia Development Association, alongside other experts from the organization, presented the SYNCLUSIVE project and its main objectives and achievements to the event's guests.

SYNCLUSIVE and ARGENTUM share a similar group of beneficiaries in Bulgaria – the former focuses on ensuring fair access to the labor market for women above the age of 55, while the latter addresses the need for economic inclusion of a broader group of the elderly.

At the event, representatives of the ARGENTUM project participated in informational videos for SYNCLUSIVE and reassured that networking and collaboration are key factors in making a true impact on the subject of a fairer economy and greater access for vulnerable groups to the labor market.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526


On January 24th Sofia Development Association on behalf of SYNCLUSIVE met with the team of the CitizenCentered Social Services (CITICESS) project, funded by the Interreg Europe Programme 2021-2027 of the European Union. CITICESS project aims to improve policies for regional development policies dealing with vulnerable groups by sharing experiences, testing innovative approaches, and building the capacity of partners to identify, dissemination, and transfer of good practices and engages Sofia Municipality and 7 other partners from 7 EU countries. Both projects address the needs of better and more efficient inclusion of the vulnerable groups – SYNCLUSIVE focusing on the labour market, and CITICESS targeting on innovative social services. The project teams discussed how the complementary activities and outcomes of the two projects can improve the wellbeing of the vulnerable citizens. SDA presented the ENGINE concept, the local coalition and the Living Lab that will offer specific interventions for unemployed women 55+.

The two project teams also agreed on specific outreach and dissemination activities and using the Living Lab in Sofia as a launching pad for some CITICESS innovative services as well.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526












PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.




The final event of the RRI-LEADERS project, the endorsement workshop in Sofia was held on December 13, 2023 in SofiaLab. The event, organized by Sofia Development Association and the ARC Fund, brought together over 20 participants from Sofia Municipality and local stakeholders from the quadruple helix (NGOs, academia).
The meeting aimed to present to municipal policy- and decision-makers, local stakeholders, and experts the Transformative Outlook developed under the RRI-LEADERS project. The outlook for Sofia Municipality is the result of an intensive co-creation process that the project partners followed over the past two years. The document includes the policy objectives and actions for four policy areas for Sofia, namely, (i) support for innovation, (ii) digital transition and new skills, (iii) youth employment and entrepreneurship, and (iv) sustainable urban development. In addition to policy-specific actions, for each policy the outlook presents activities related to the framework of responsible research and innovation (RRI-AIRR). Both the actions and the RRI-related measures have been formulated and discussed in a series of local stakeholder meetings and confirmed by a panel of randomly selected citizens.

Feedback from the participants emphasized the potential of this forward-looking document to influence policymaking and implementation, by enhancing policymaking practices with the input from research and innovation and ensuring that citizens and stakeholders are actively involved in the process. In times of deep socio-technological transformations there is a growing need for consensus-building around contentious societal matters and the participatory models of policy development tested by the project can provide much-needed pathways for increasing the effectiveness, efficiency, and legitimacy of public policies.



 RRI Leaders is funded by Horizon2020.


Page 1 of 91

Go to top