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.
12 members of the BRDN’s Gender Equality Hub, participated at the two-day training on gender equality and mainstreaming, organized in Skopje on April 16th and 17th. The participants learned about gender roles and stereotypes; gender inequality; gender mainstreaming; gender division of labor; practical and strategic gender needs. The training helped the members of the Hub to equip with knowledge useful for their further work in applying gender mainstreaming within BRDN and creating awareness regarding the important role of rural women and men in decision making within the rural households and strengthening negotiating power of women in the rural society.
Gender mainstreaming is one of the major challenges of BRDN for increasing the participation of the women in rural development and include women from rural communities in the decision making process since rural life and disadvantages arising thereof have been influencing rural women in different ways than rural men. Rural women from the Western Balkan countries face similar challenges due to the gender inequality which persists in the region, such as: feminized poverty; insecurity in the labor market; a growing share of unpaid care work; uneven progress on tackling harassment and violence; ensuring access to health, sexual and reproductive rights; greater duties regarding family and care for family members, lack of effective use of ownership rights, patriarchal family relations, relative invisibility in most agricultural and rural development programs and insufficient representation in the decision making process. Therefore, BRDN established the Gender Equality Hub with aim to provide structural approach for securing adequate representation of the rural women needs in the Western Balkan countries.
On December 13th and 14th, 6 of the BRDN members, representatives of the rural development networks of Serbia, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, gathered in Skopje, to discuss and define a draft of BRDN’s Statute, which will serve as a base in the further process of formalization of BRDN.
The Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia, presented the activities planned for the following year as part of the We Effect’s support for developing the capacities of BRDN and introduced the concept for establishing of Gender Equality Hub as an advisory body within BRDN and the rest of governing and executive bodies. A fruitful discussion was initiated by the BRDN members related to the organizational structure and the membership provisions. It is expected during 2019, BRDN to have defined its Statute and procedures for functioning of management and executive bodies.
Rural Development Policy Forum of South Eastern Europe countries 2018
Тhe Rural Development Policy Forum of South Eastern Europe countries 2018 focusing on “Diversification of economic activities in the rural areas and role of CSO in supporting diversification”, was held in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 16, 17 and 18 October 2018. The RDPF 2018 was organized by the Balkan Rural Development Network and Development Foundation of Turkey within the project ALTER – Active Local Territories for Economic development of Rural Areas. The RDPF participants also had the opportunity to participate in the Agricultural Policy Forum (APF) 2018 “Agricultural Policy: Determinant of the Regional Rural Development and EU Perspectives of SEE” organised by the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) in SEE.
The Rural Development Policy Forum of South Eastern Europe countries 2018 served as a platform for dialogue on perspectives of diversification of economic activities in rural areas of SEE countries and provided possibility for dialogue between all relevant stakeholders. After sharing experiences in diversification of economic activities in rural areas in Western Balkan countries, Turkey and EU, the participants were divided in three working groups on the following topics:
Diversification of economic activities in rural areas – how to establish stimulative environment;
Role of civil society organisations in supporting diversification of economic activities in rural areas;
Social entrepreneurship as possibility for diversification of economic activities in rural areas and support employment marginalized groups.
Within each of these topics, the groups identified the key issues and problems, giving appropriate policy recommendations related to the diversification of the economic activities in rural areas in the region. Finally, the participants of RDPF 2018 had the opportunity to participate on the plenary session of the Agricultural Policy Forum (APF) 2018, with possibility to contribute to Policy recommendations.