120 participants gathered in Tirana, European Youth Capital 2022 on the second ReLOaD2 regional conference on the topic: Western Balkans – Youth Perspectives
November 17, 2022
In the past two days, 120 people from the Western Balkans attended the conference organized as a part of the Regional Programme on the Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2), envisaged as an opportunity for youth to be part of discussion along with their peers across the region, as well as to have direct interaction with policy makers and officials.
ReLOaD2 is a regional initative implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which works on strengthening partnerships between local authorities and civil society, aiming specifically at greater civic and youth participation in decision-making processes.
The conference was opened by H.E. Ms. Bora Muzhaqi, State Minister for Youth and Children of Albania who underlined the importance of the LOD model used by the European Union for financing youth organizations, but also for the National Youth Agency, the implementation structure of the Youth Strategy, drafting of the National Youth Strategy, and numerous collaborations for youth activation in Albania.
Ms. Hillen Francke, Head of Sector, Civil society, Social Inclusion & Human Capital Development, European Commission stated: “Youth has never been higher on the EU agenda with 2022 being the European Year of Youth. This is true also for our engagement with the Western Balkans where Tirana has been named the European Youth Capital in 2022. And youth will continue to be at the heart of the EU’s support to the region. The ReLOaD2 project is one of our key regional initiatives in support of civil society, but it also has a strong focus on youth. It successfully manages to promote the role of two crucial actors for the future of the Western Balkans and its European perspective: civil society and youth.”
Ms. Monica Merino, Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme in Albania, said: “Engaging and putting youth at the center of development is very important for all of us and cuts across both phases of RELOAD projects. One strong component of ReLOaD2 is the engagement of young people in local affairs, in the decision making when it comes to initiatives and projects - they care about. ReLOaD has created opportunities for the young to participate in internship schemes, first job experiences, and vocational training to be better prepared for the labor market.”
The programme provided space for young people to exchange opinions on challenges and practices related to youth participation in community life through several panel discussions and workshops. Starting from artistic play by youth ensemble from Tirana and ending in targeted dialogue, young people conveyed that they need to be heard more often.
The participants stated that conference contributed to better understanding of institutional practices, similarities, and differences relevant for youth across Western Balkans. We hope that this conference will create new opportunities for partnerships and space for development related to youth needs.
* For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to position on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For UNDP all references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the UN Resolution 1244/1999
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