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.
First Balkan Rural Parliament held in Vrnjačka Banja
Based on the rich experience generated by its involvement in the national rural parliaments throughout Europe, the national networks for rural development of the Western Balkans (The Serbian rural development network, the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia, the Rural Development Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Network of organizations for rural development of Kosovo, the Rural Development Network of Montenegro and the Croatian network for rural development), in cooperation with the Development Foundation of Turkey, the PREPARE and Latvian Rural Forum, for the first time in the history of rural Europe organized a regional Balkan Rural Parliament.
The First Balkan Rural Parliament which was held from 26 to 28 June 2018 was visited by approximately 60 representatives of the civil and public sectors from the Western Balkans and Turkey, representatives of the European Commission, the national rural networks from all over Europe, international networks and organizations and many other rural stakeholders.
Main objectives of the first Balkan Rural Parliament were the following:
Support the regional and inter-sectoral cooperation of the key stakeholders working on rural development in the Balkans;
Raise the voice of the rural population in the Western Balkans and Turkey;
Promote self-help(support) and activism among the rural population, in partnership with the civil and public sectors;
Define major recommendations for the sustainable development in the rural communities of the Western Balkans and Turkey;
Define major recommendations for EU institutions and national governments, in connection with the EU integration in the region based on the regional needs and specificities of the rural communities.
During the course of the event working groups were formed to discuss 5 different topics of interest:
Young people and women working on rural development in the Balkans;
Shorter chain of supply and the role of the networks in the Balkans;
Social entrepreneurship as a possibility for diversification of economic activities in the rural communities in the Balkans;
How to use LEADER/CLLD for achieving faster development in the rural communities in the Balkans;
Cultural heritage of the Balkans bringing possibilities to rural development.
The conclusions and the recommendations of the working groups were summed up and integrated in a Declaration of the First Balkan Rural Parliament, which as an end product of this event will be addressed to the national governments and the EU institutions.
The representatives of the rural development networks from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, gathered in Ohrid on November 22nd to finalize the Balkan Rural Development Network’s 5 years’ strategy and 2 years’ Action Plan. At the beginning of the workshop, the representative of We Effect, as project’s donor and the representative of SWG (Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe) introduced the participants to their organizational structure and activities. After reviewing BRDN’s vision and mission statements and discussing on BRDN’s strategic priorities, two ongoing activities for increasing BRDN’s visibility were promoted: the first one was the finalization of BRDN’s website design and the second was the preparation of BRDN’s brochure.
The project “Support Balkan Rural Development Network – BRDN as a
functional regional platform for cooperation of rural networks in the Western Balkans” is supported by We Effect and implemented by the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia.
The project undertakes actions for capacity building of the BRDN starting with preparation of BRDN strategy document as basic program document for work.
From May 15th to May 17th, 2017, in Skopje, a workshop was organized for preparation of the Balkan Rural Development Network’s 5 years’ strategy and 2 years’ Action Plan. Representatives of the rural development networks from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, as members of the BRDN, were working jointly, to develop a strategic document and to envision the actions needed to achieve the strategic priorities.
The workshop was supported by We Effect as part of the activities implemented by the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia within the project “Support Balkan Rural Development Network – BRDN as a functional regional platform for cooperation of rural networks”. The project’s activities focus on capacity building of the Balkan Rural Development Network (BRDN), in order to increase significantly the ability of its member organizations, which play a leading role in sustainable socio-economic development, to dialogue with Governments influencing policy, and decision-making processes in the rural areas. Capacity building actions for BRDN relates to internal governance, financial and project management, long-term planning, funding diversification and networking. Strong focus of the project is put on the support to rural women in the process of capacity building and inclusive networking as a basis for decreasing the negative influence of the disadvantages arising in the rural areas.
The rural development networks from the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, as members of the Balkan Rural Development Network, were invited by the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe – SWG, to participate on the 38th SWG Assembly Session, held in the period 09th – 12th April 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The Assembly was organized with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of Slovenia.
At the Assembly, the BRDN members had an opportunity to present their networks and the Balkan Rural Development Network in front of the SWG delegates. Within the event, BRDN had its own meeting where current and planned activities were discussed. The representative of the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia presented the project “Support Balkan Rural Development Network – BRDN as a functional regional platform for cooperation of rural networks in the Western Balkans, funded by We Effect and announced the upcoming strategic planning workshop.