On September 2nd and 3rd, at Hotel Continental in the City of Skopje in North Macedonia, the Regional Best Practice Fair was held, organized by the Balkan Network for Local Democracy. The nature of the event was a hybrid meeting, with participants and presenters both in person and through the zoom platform online. 30 participants joined the event, together with the speakers. The latter, thanks to interpreters were able to speak their respective languages, giving to the initiative a great international atmosphere.
Presentations and discussions on data related to several matters, be they: self-government, participation, CSOs, were on the agenda. Moreover, various case studies of individual community practices in the Western Balkan 6 Countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) and among 9 communities regarding topics such as active citizenship, decision-making. Besides, the overall initiative culminated in a digital activity in which participants voted through their phones, while sharing their ideas through the Slido app.
Progress has been made, as clearly demonstrated during the fair
In addition, findings presented by the researchers will be used on a national and regional level as a basis for further development of civil society; as well as advocation for the interests of citizens among the Western Balkans. Hence, getting citizens, especially youth, more involved and informed with local self-government is among the goals of this initiatives. Many examples of mobilization and promotion of values of active citizenship, such as:
- Youth podcast,
- An initiative to get local elections back in the city of Mostar,
- Promotional videos,
- Spreading of environmental consciousness though a booklet
were among the individual municipality cases presented. Overall, this event showed that there are still ways to considerer, regarding the enrichment of local democracy, but progress has been made, as clearly demonstrated during the Fair. Hence, many best practices were highlighted, and many more are still to be done.
This event is part of the project “CSOs Networking for Better Local Democracy in the Balkans”, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA),and implemented by the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN). It included participants from various groups such as CSOs, youth groups, BNLD members, certain national stakeholders, etc.