Mission: National Development Strategy

May 9, 2022


Fatmir Bytyqi, Deputy of the Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, coordination of economic sectors and investments

Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative


One year ago, we embarked on a mission together, to create the ‘National Development Strategy’ for North Macedonia, a visionary strategic document that will give our society the much-needed clarity on the common development goals and path, that would require a nation-wide effort to achieve. Nation-wide effort in which we all contribute, together, for our country. We designed a process that is inclusive, comprehensive, and inviting towards everyone in the creation of a joint vision for the future development of the country. At the same time, we envisioned a process that will learn from previous experiences of developing strategies, as well as other countries’ experiences in development planning. Finally, we wanted to see innovation both in the development of the strategy and the document itself.

We trust that the this development strategy will create an enabling environment, a new way forward, that would allow our society to come together and pave the path for development of our country in the upcoming 20 years. The commencement of the NDS development process came at a time when the world and our country were facing one of the most complex challenges of our time, the COVID19 pandemic and its effects.  Moreover, the way we are responding to the pandemic is not the only choice that institutions and people are making, we are also facing numerous wicked problems around us, including climate, environment degradation, migration, resource management, new technologies and their impact on our lives and societies. So, the NDS process should account for the capabilities that a society needs to build, to respond to the short/long term global challenges of the next decades, and ensure that it is resilient, skilled, and agile enough to respond to them. We see the NDS as an acceleration platform to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals for our country as well as a process that is complementary and can further contribute to the EU accession process. The NDS can help us frame the Agenda 2030 challenges, and provide a greater focus on their implementation, trickle down the policies that the EU has been pursuing, including the Green New Deal and the Digital Agenda, while at the same time tap into the collective intelligence and wisdom of our citizens and frame our priorities into social challenges, and opportunities for growth. The NDS will serve as an umbrella strategy that will try to encompass new and existing planning processes and strategies, while at the same time build complementarity with existing achievements and processes. We can already see the ‘acceleration’ potential of the NDS in practice for domestic development policies. Namely, recently jointly with the office of the President of the Republic an agreement was reached to synchronize the ongoing MKD2030 initiative with the NDS process.

In this process of creating the NDS, we adopted a systematic approach, meaning that we did not want to rush into pre-made solutions to our unique societal challenges, but rather to appreciate the complexity of our reality, and learn more about the system we are trying to change in the process. In this past year we have been doing precisely that, learning about our system. We focused on learnings about the best practices in creating development strategies, what we can improve in our public policymaking process; how to better map and engage societal actors to pursue change in our communities, what role digitalization should play in this process, how to incorporate the latest development models in our strategic planning, and most importantly how to enable a whole-of-a-society approach towards the development of the NDS.

In her book ‘Mission Economy’ Professor Mariana Mazzucato talks in detail about the importance for a ‘mission’ like ours (the development of the NDS) to be inclusive of different voices from the start of the process, to give the perspectives of citizens and the implications of the process on their everyday lives. She argues ‘having a vision is not enough: it is essential to engage with citizens about it’. We echo this sentiment, and we have tried to build mechanisms within this process, that will enable not only consultations with citizens, but concrete engagement mechanisms that will keep citizens involved in the process of formulating the strategy, but also its implementing and monitoring process. One of the key activities that we are implementing in the NDS process is a future imagining exercise with our fellow citizens, where we are collectively trying to [re]think our present challenges, and what type of future do we want to build as a community. This process directly feeds the creation of the strategic document itself and thus far in our ‘visioning workshops’ we have had more than 1000 citizens involved, from all regions of the country. In addition, we are soon going to promote an online platform, that will be available for all in the country, to follow and add-on to the development process of the NDS, by providing feedback and ideas that will be incorporated into the strategy.

The NDS process is at its core a co-creation process, and to implement it will require the meaningful inclusion of a variety of societal actors. Mindful that we are discussing our joint future, and the development of our country, the NDS is an opportunity to unite our polarized society and together create a plan and vision for the future, that we can all rally behind.

We began the NDS process amid a global pandemic, which is telling, from the perspective of overcoming the crisis and recognizing the need to create this Strategy, that will strengthen our resilience to future global challenges. In practice, during the pandemic, we quickly learned that we need to be agile and adaptable to overcome challenges. Symbolically the NDS process will be built on the same principles that we hope to convey in the document itself.

Let us all join forces and have the courage to imagine and create a better future together.

The Government of North Macedonia started the preparations for the development of 2021-2041 National Development Strategy in early 2021, through a project supported by the British Embassy Skopje Good Governance Fund and implemented by the UNDP in coordination with RCO North Macedonia to ensure that that the collective UN expertise is utilized in the process where needed.