BOOST launches to empower Civil Society in the Western Balkans

May 08, 2024

Citizens engagement EU values and Enlargement Territorial & local development Youth empowerment & Education Linked project:

On 30th of April 2024 in Tirana, a significant step was taken towards strengthening the capacities of civil society in the Western Balkans with the launch of BOOST: Balkan for Optimising Opportunities, Sustainability and Transformation of Civil Society, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

Led by ALDA, the consortium of partners of the newly launched BOOST, came together in Tirana for the 2-day kick-off event to discuss the project’s key objectives, cross country implementation, its challenges and how to address them. During the Steering Committee meeting, on the first day, project partners shared their expertise on boosting the capabilities of civil society organizations, as they play an important role in fostering collaboration, social cohesion and development in the Western Balkans region. The Steering Committee meeting also featured a series of presentations, discussions, and interactive training sessions, the partners gathering demonstrated the spirit of partnership and collective action.

The following day the launch conference brought together members of Western Balkans CSOs, alongside representatives from AFD, the French Embassies in the Western Balkan countries, and local government officials. Participants gathered with a joint commitment to promoting European values such as peace, democracy, and inclusivity. Guests took the opportunity to exchange views on the needs for transparent governance, participatory democracy, and effective citizen cooperation, at both local and national levels. United by their shared belief in the regional benefits and their endorsement of BOOST, they expressed support for advancing the initiative throughout the Balkan region. 

Notably, the official inauguration of BOOST featured two engaging panels moderated by ALDA’s very own Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida and Governing Board member Emir Coric

The welcoming session was opened by Anuela Ristani, Deputy Mayor of Tirana, Sébastien Carreau, Head of AFD’s country office in Tirana, and Oriano Otočan, President of ALDA. Each speaker brought unique perspectives and insights, highlighting the significance of cross-sectoral partnerships and regional cooperation in overcoming shared challenges.

Moderated by Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA, looked closely at the details of European challenges for the Western Balkans. René Troccaz, special envoy for the Western Balkans of France, and Marie Augouy, Programme Manager at the Delegation of the EU to Albania, offered perspectives on regional dynamics and the role of collaborative initiatives in advancing progress.

Alessandro Perelli, Vice President of ALDA and representative of Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region, along with Ugo Poli, Representative of the Central European Initiative, and Nataša Vučković, Vice-President of ALDA and Secretary General of the Center for Democracy Foundation Belgrade, contributed to the discourse, pointing out the power of mutual cooperation and innovation in addressing common challenges for the region.

The launching session of the BOOST project was officially initiated with opening speeches by Catherine Suard, France’s Ambassador in Tirana, and Nicola Le Guen, who heads the Civil Society Organizations Division at AFD stressing the importance of the initiative in empowering communities and promoting sustainable development.

Katica Janeva, Head of the Western Balkans Unit at ALDA, along with Drini Nushi, from the Urban Research Institute Tirana, and Dzenana Dedić, from LDA Mostar B&H, provided a comprehensive overview of the Project BOOST outlining the objectives, methodologies, and expected outcomes of this action.

Speakers underscored BOOST as a dynamic strategic initiative aimed at reducing gender-based inequalities, fostering youth engagement in decision-making, and driving socio-economic development in the Balkans.

BOOST holds the promise to enhance the role of CSO’s across the Western Balkan region through its sub-granting scheme, network-building activities and support in developing concrete project initiatives, all geared towards fostering economic, social, and cultural progress in the region. During its implementation it is expected that around 120 CSOs will benefit from the sub-granting scheme and capacity-building initiatives such as coaching, mentoring, and training sessions, designed to empower both regional and national CSOs. These activities will equip CSOs with technical and thematic expertise, enhancing their effectiveness in their respective areas of work. By establishing sustainable and long-term practices and policies it is expected that around 20,000 people will be impacted positively by BOOST.

BOOST is coordinated by ALDA in partnership with LEADER FrancePulse SOSPulse BalkansLDA Mostar, LDA KosovoLDA Nikšić, LDA ZavidovićiLDA PrijedorLDA SuboticaLDA Central and Southern Serbia and the Urban Research Institute Albania.

Agence Française de Développemnt (AFD) implements France’s policy on international development and solidarity. Through its financing of NGOs and the public sector, as well as its research and publications, AFD supports and accelerates transitions towards a fairer, more resilient world. It also provides training in sustainable development (at AFD Campus) and other awareness-raising activities in France.