National Conference, 11 October 2013, Tirane
Institute for Democracy and Mediation, organized on Wednesday on 9 October 2013 a National Conference on “Community Led Local Development: Towards a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”
Main speakers were Mr. Alban Zusi, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration; Ms. Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Francois Begeot, Representative of EU Delegation to Albania, Mr. Goran Soster, Coordinator of PREPARE Network. Other participants included MPs, representatives of local government units (Qarks, Municipalities), representatives of international organizations and donor community in Albania, civil society organizations etc.
This National Conference comes in a very crucial moment of governmental changes in Albania. Sustainable Local and Rural Development are the outmost key priority to the new elected government. Upon the establishment of the new government policies and programs will be designed, therefore it is crucial that policy makers are aware of the policy options to promote local and rural development in Albania, in view of EU objectives and strategies. EU Cohesion Policies 2014-2020 place Community Led Local Development (CLLD) and Local Action Groups (LAGs,) at the heart of local development. Ms. Zineb Touimi – Benjelloun stated that “these partnerships in the form of formalized local action groups for rural development for example will be the instruments through which to realized the objective fo giving EU a face and a soul among the ordinary people of Albania”.
In this line Mr. Begeot, reiterated the “commitment of the EU to help Albania facing the challenges of local development, particularly when the local communities take the leadership of the development process in their area”.
A public – private partnership with the civil society and the private sector in local development is the most sustainable and inclusive approach, towards an economic, social and institutional development. According to Mr. Sotiraq Hroni, Executive Director of IDM “adapting the CLLD principles and the establishment of LAG-s, to promote an inclusive development from a bottom –up approach, is the only way that can help the country to withstand the great challenges it is facing, in view of social equality, economic sustainable development, growth of social capital etc.”
In the second panel Mr. Goran Soster, Coordinator of PREPARE Network presented the successful Slovenian model of establishing LAG-s and the Rural Development Network highlighting different aspects of the model that could be implemented in Albania. Other IDM experts presented the challenges that civil society is faring with regard to supporting local development in Albania.