Harnessing the potential of rural areas to contribute to a sustainable & prosperous Europe
The Agricultural and Rural Convention, ARC2020 mobilized a panel with civil society organizations and rural movements, who introduced an open discussion with citizens participating via videoconference, followed by an exchange of views between the presidents of the Committees for Agriculture and for the Environment of the European Parliament.
This overall event “A vision for rural Europe – Harnessing the potential of rural areas to contribute to a sustainable and prosperous Europe” was organized by the President of the Renew Europe Group, Dacian Ciolos and was held on 7 July, 14.30 – 17.00 Cest.
Petar Gjorgievski, was also featuring this discussion to share the views of the CSOs working on rural development in Western Balkan, under the umbrella of the Balkan Rural Development Network. He was speaking of the potentials of the Western Balkan rural areas, the existing gap between rural and urban areas, as well as the needs for investing in the development of the rural areas.
“The rural development process of the Western Balkan is one of the major driving processes that can really accelerate the EU accession process of the Western Balkans. However, to achieve this we need to invest in strengthening of mutual trust on every level, among people, institutions, at national level, but also there is a big investment need for impowering the trust among the Western Balkan and the European Union and to build important equal partnership. Of course that we are aware that somehow the Western Balkans have this negative image from the past, but such a perception of constant mistrust creates a deadlock in the EU integration processes and also negatively affects to the development of the rural areas. So, we want to change this perception into a positive perception that the Western Balkans have specific values that bring us closer than divide us, and these values can only enrich the values of the EU.” said Petar Gjorgievski in his address.
The members of the BRDN’s Working Groups have started to work on development of BRDN’s Advocacy and Lobbying Strategy and Action Plan. Advocacy and Lobbying is one of the priority areas of work of BRDN, but there’s a need of a clear vision of the advocacy issues on which BRDN will represent its constituents and design future activities. At the 2 hours Zoom meeting, held on June 18th, 2020, the members of the Working Groups discussed about their experiences and different issues they’ve advocated on, at national level and managed to draft priorities and actions related to advocacy and lobbying for BRDN. Having in mind that the national rural development networks, members of BRDN, are all experienced in this area of work, BRDN just gives them opportunity to raise these issues on regional and EU level, and to be more influential in the process of representing the needs of rural communities in the Western Balkans.
Client: Rural Development Network of North Macedonia, within the project ” Develop capacities of BRDN network to become accountable actor for development of sustainable rural areas in the Western Balkan Region”, funded by the Swedish development organization “We Effect”.
Subject of the procurement: The subject of procurement is engaging consultant for conducting a three-day training in English, for representatives of LAGs from 6 Western Balkan countries, covering the following topics:
– administration and management of LEADER LAGs; and
– animation and mobilization of rural stakeholders regarding LEADER approach.
Detailed description of the task is provided in Term of References.
In the period from 6th to 8th February, in Belgrade, Serbia, training on fundraising skills improvement for the members of the BRDN’s Working Groups was held. The goal of this training was to develop skills and practices for effective fundraising with focus on writing of the project proposals for EU funding, as well as exploring other possibilities for obtaining funds, such as corporate and individual support as well as through maintaining Social Enterprise Model. 11 members of the Working Groups, nominated by the BRDN member networks, improved their skills in fundraising as an effort to set up the basis for their future work in supporting BRDN to become strong actor in sustainable rural development in the Western Balkan.
Since its informal establishment in March 2011, the Balkan Rural Development Network – BRDN, with the joint efforts of its members, has started to become recognizable among many relevant international organizations and public institutions, at regional but also at EU level, as a potential leading actor in the rural development in the Western Balkan region. The BRDN members have worked hard during the past 8 years and dedicated a lot of their time and energy to lay solid pillars, upon which they can build eminent figure among all rural stakeholders in the region and wider. With formalization of BRDN, they are now moving a step forward towards becoming a stronger social asset for the Balkan rural communities that will significantly contribute to development of sustainable rural areas in the region. The founding assembly of BRDN was held in Skopje, on December 6th, when the rural development networks of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed the registration documents as founders of the Network. The other two BRDN partners, the rural development networks of Serbia and Albania are joining later as full-fledged members. This way BRDN will continue to represent more than 200 rural development associations from the region and will advocate for the interests of more than 9 million rural people from the Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
“I expect that BRDN will prove to be a social asset for the Balkan rural communities, that will be able to utilise the opportunities and strengths of today, in order to annul the challenges of tomorrow and contribute to innovative and sustainable solutions to the current and future social and rural development issues,” said Petar Gjorgievski, the newly elected President of the Balkan Rural Development Network – BRDN.
Thanks to the support of the Swedish Development Organization We Effect in the past 2 years, BRDN managed to lay dawn firm basis of the organization and prepare all crucial documents that give directions and goals in the future work.
13 representatives of BRDN member networks, yesterday participated in the event in North Macedonia organized on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated each year on October 15.
This year’s celebration of October 15 – International Day of Rural Women was just a continuation of last year’s event and an opportunity to see the results of the Declaration on Improving the Economic and Social Position of Rural Women which was signed by the NFF, RDN, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the cooperation between the institutions and NGOs.
The event also hosted a public discussion on the theme “Ownership of Agricultural Land and Property – Challenge for the Rural Woman”. Within the discussion, Marijana Jovovic, as representative of the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Montenegro, shared information about the current and former situation of the rural women in Montenegro, which is similar to the other Balkan countries. Only 12.9% of holders of family farms in Montenegro are women and 3% of women own agricultural property.
“We know that in the Republic of North Macedonia there are facilities for rural women applying to existing measures to support agriculture and rural development through the national program for rural development and IPARD, but I consider it necessary to increase the stimulation of women entrepreneurs and to support women who would be future carriers of projects by providing more information, encouraging, giving business ideas and providing business connections through various ways of networking.“ said Petar Gjorgievski, the President of the Rural Development Network of North Macedonia.
The event is organized annually by the Rural Development Network of North Macedonia and the National Federation of Farmers. This year the event was supported by the Swedish Development Organisation We Effect and was visited by approximately 200 representatives of government institutions, civil society organizations from the country and the Balkans, and other rural stakeholders.
The members of the Gender Equality Hub of BRDN started working on development of BRDN’s Communication and Gender Mainstreaming Policy. For that reason, 9 Hub members gathered in Skopje at a two day workshop, on September 19th and 20th, where they learned how to identify gender roles and needs, as well as to use practically the gender analysis tools. This helped them in the preparation of the Communication and Gender Mainstreaming Policy, an important document which shall serve as basis for their future work within BRDN.
On September 10 and 11, the Balkan Rural Development Network organised the Rural Development Policy Forum in Zlatibor, Serbia. The rural stakeholders of Western Balkan Region gathered to discuss about the challenges and opportunities of youth living in rural areas.
The members of the Balkan Rural Development Network gathered in Belgrade, Serbia, in the period from May 14th till May 16th in order to discuss and develop the rulebooks for functioning of BRDN’s management and executive bodies. After making the final conclusions concerning the Statute of BRDN, BRDN members discussed the details and made some modifications to the rulebooks which determine the procedures for work of the Governing structure, as well as the Secretariat and the Professional Teams, as part of the executive structure.
During the working meeting, the BRDN members also discussed about their joint projects and the implementation process and also shared information on the new joint initiatives.
As of 11/04/2019 to 12/04/2019 the largest ever gathering of the European rural networking community was organized in Brussels. Under the name “ ‘networX’ – Inspiring Rural Europe, conference aim was to recognize the value of networking for rural development, demonstrate the results of the past ten years of rural networking and proactively look at its future. The interactive format ensured plenty of space and time for informal discussions, inspiring conversations and sharing of experiences, reaffirming the value of human connections in the digital world. Over 400 rural stakeholders from all over Europe gathered to discuss:
The role of networking for rural policy
how to build / transform a network
networking for innovation in agriculture and rural areas
networking for evaluation
promoting effective stakeholder engagement in networks
Presentation of Western Balkan Networks and Balkan Rural Development Network at the” NetworX Marketplace”
The Rural Development Networks of the WB countries as part of the Balkan Rural Development Network (Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo ), were invited to participate at the event entitled as ‘networX’ Inspiring Rural Europe, organized by the Contact Point of the European Network for Rural Development. The networks from Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as IPARD countries had an opportunity to present their work as exhibitors at marketplace stands while the Kosovo and the networks from Bosnia and Herzegovina participated as visitors. Besides the individual activities of the IPARD networks BRDN activities were also presented during the marketplace event through poster presentations and individual discussions with participants.
Meeting of BRDN with EU DG-Agriculture and Rural Development
During the event the BRDN had a separate meeting with DG-Agri to discuss about Networks in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The following points were discussed:
State of play of Technical Assistance under IPARD in each country, and possibility to finance Rural Networks under IPARD
Rural Networks – outsourced or within the Ministry – two options possible
Other possible sources of financing (if TA not accredited yet)
Scope of work (thematic priorities) for Networks from IPARD countries
The representatives of DG Agri (Ms. Anna Nowak-Wood Program Manager for Serbia; and Ms. Iwona Lisztwan Program Manager for Turkey) emphasized the importance and role of networks in supporting the implementation of IPARD. It was pointed out that financial support for networks should be provided through the technical assistance measure in those countries where it is accredited, and in those where there is no such support to find other sources of funding. Such a case of government support exists only in Turkey where the National Rural Development Network is financed by the technical assistance measure. An example of successful work was given from the Turkish network during the entrustment of LEADER and TA in Turkey.
Petar Gjorgievski thanked the Directorate for the support and emphasized that all networks through the IPARD Monitoring Committees will propose solutions to the relevant ministries for establishment and financing of national networks and support of LEADER approach. He stated that in Macedonia the Technical Assistance measure is accredited but still no funds for establishment of National Rural Network are allocated yet. He also emphasized that unlike the Turkish network, the Western Balkan networks that are members of the BRDN are civil organizations and have a much wider scope of action than just IPARD, like EU integration, democracy, decentralization, advocacy and lobbying, guided by the bottom-up principles. Furthermore the relevant ministries still do not recognize the importance of networking and they need to work more closely with civil networks in the process for establishment and functioning of National Networks for better implementation of rural development programs, depending to what extent they would like to involve the CSO Networks and what model of network they will choose. Recommendations were accepted by the DG-Agri and support was offered to increase co-operation and dialogue between the relevant ministries and networks.