Event report on study visit
On the dates 17th – 20th of September 2018, Albanian Alps Alliance network, within the project
“Alpartners” organized activity named: Experience exchange between the Albanian Alps Alliance network with Serbian network “Center for Democratic Development EUROPOLIS”, in Novi Sad, Serbia.
AAA network in partnership with Serbian network CDDE, within the project “Alpartners”, gives life to this activity with the purpose to discuss on methods and good practices on the work in a network, LEADER approach, problems that they have faced during their way and knowing with concrete examples of the initiatives that they have undertaken.
The team of Albanian Alps Alliance was represented by 7 members with their respective professional background and role in the meeting:
– Petrit Imeraj – Chairman of the AAA Network Board of Directors
– Agron Isufaj – Member of AAA Network Board of Directors, Agronomist
– Qemal Mehja – Member of AAA network, Forest Engineer for Protected Areas
– Gent Imeraj – Member of AAA network, Representative of the youth sector
– Sonar Mesi – Member of AAA network, student of International Studies and Politic Relations (3rd year), interpreter/translator for the meeting
– Vladimir Jeremic – Member of CDDE
– Marina Jeremic – Member of CDDE
The days were organized and coordinated by Mr. Dane Pribic (local coordinator).
According to each day, it will be reported the activity held and their outputs:
– Brunch meeting with CDD Europolis team – presentation of previous Europolis activities, future plans and economic/social situation in City of Novi Sad
– SWOT Analysis of the partnership
After the introductory meeting composed of: who is CDDE, previous projects, partnerships, mission, vision, “getting to know each-other” speeches, the day followed with a short workshop on the common values. At this workshop were identified that the most appropriate values that exist among the 2 networks are: pro-active, promotion of values, continuous changing, sharing ideas, guiding each-other, openness, examples of practices etc.
The 2nd part of the day consisted of SWOT analysis of the partnership among AAA network and CDDE network. Strengths of cooperating and networking among AAA and CDDE were identified, Weaknesses regarding internal functioning and approaches, Opportunities for further common projects and initiatives, Threats imposed by external environments and stakeholders. From the analysis it was reflected on joint possible initiatives (which are part of both network’s mission and focus) such as: establishing / strengthening local action groups, networking with local authorities for promotion of good governance, cross-border cooperation, interlinking similar culture and tradition through events etc. Stressing of donors on regional cross-border projects creates a positive environment in fostering cooperation and broadening opportunities through funds.
– Participating at the organic food fair, with products from Vojvodina farms, organized with the support of the Novi Sad municipality. Experience exchanging with The Organic Agri-cultural Coalition (Project Manager)
– Visiting the Sremski Karlovac city, famous for historical moments, being accompanied by the Project manager of the NGO for branded food of Vojvodina. Experience exchange with NGO “Tastes of Vojvodina”
The 2nd day of the meeting was foreseen in agenda to be: Meeting with Vojvodina Organic Cluster VOC and visit to organic farm in Čenej village – presentation of cluster organization and cooperation with local farmers from community. With the funds from the city of Novi Sad, all the organic enterprises from the farmers were funded to come and exhibit their product at the city. Meeting with Vojvodina Organic Cluster VOC manager, Mrs. Marija Nikolajev, was made possible. The AAA network member had a great interest in hearing their history, challenges and the trail in becoming a popular style of society gathering (organic food cluster). The manager explained the stages products follow to be named as organic, how is their certification made, finding market, fund-raising on providing exchanges/fairs/trainings on organic food topic. The existence of local geographical-positioned products in Albania, which do not have a brand, makes this experience valid to be implemented in Albania. The manager told to the network that they have now experts who offer their knowledge and professionalism in building capacities for such grouping of farmers in clusters and promoting products.
The 2nd part of the day was a meeting with NGO “Tastes of Vojvodina” manager, Mrs. Jelena Bogdanov, who explained us how they created a project to identify all the products from native Vojvodina farms by: data collection, visits in all the farms, data processing, organizing a fair with all the products.
The project from Ministry of Tourism, IPARD, had in its focus similar missions, to create cooperatives that can brand local products. The experience gained from both meetings (project steps in identifying products, branding and exhibiting them) finds room for implementation by representatives of AAA team, who have in their profession agri-culture and development of rural branding, and by the AAA network as a mediator for its partner NGOs (Agro Reci, VIS Albania etc) in Albania that deal with the topic.
– Meeting & networking with NGO “Environment Engineers Group”, operating in NoviSad, for waste management and risk-lowering from pollution. Visiting local volunteering groups of NGO, discussing on their past, present, common possible future.
– Meeting with representatives of the farmers organization for the production of traditional products of animal origin, where their production and promotion (/ marketing) is discussed.
In addressing challenges and problems, there exist some of them that do not have borders, such as environmental issues. “Environment Engineers Group” was an NGO established in 2005 with its mission to contribute to the education and practical improvement of the state of the environment in Serbia, in an effort to involve as many young people as possible in their activities and to enable them to implement the principles of sustainable development and the best available technologies at the local level. Preservation of Alpine region in network’s mission demands for innovation and ideas, some of which were expressed at the meeting. The Coordinator of NGO, Mrs. Visnja Neuel, guided us through their challenges, their inputs of technology in improving conditions of environment. An interesting meeting was with volunteering group of this NGO, with people from all around the world. It is motivational to see that people express interest and are willing to invest time in environment preservation on an opportunity call. Their coordination and organization was told to the network, for having this kind of gathering people valid in Albania, while conducting different activities.
– Meeting & networking with Cluster for Social Entrepreneurship, operating in Novi Sad, for local action group forming, fostering inclusiveness of vulnerable community (NEET group) in local institutions and job positions. Visiting headquarters of Cluster, discussing on their past, present and common possible future.
– Closure of the experience exchange.
– Meeting with representatives of SWG RRD (Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development), establishing cooperation for follow-up initiatives already implemented with their support from AAA network.
Cluster for Social Entrepreneurship is a new form of NGOs, which hasn’t been yet established by law in Albania. This makes it a big potential for upcoming development in NGO field. The manager of the cluster, Mr. Dane, presented a PowerPoint slideshow on the origin of the cluster, organization, coordination, members and activities conducted by them. Partnership with them as of importance for AAA network due to the fact that Alps in Albania often operate with a community which in itself is a vulnerable group because of low economy, migration and lack of job opportunities. The methods presented on how to treat or tackle with this community from the perspective of a Social Entrepreneurship Cluster were noted and clarified by the manager / host of the meeting.
The day followed with the closing ceremony for the study visit. Thanksgiving and gratitude for hosting NGO “Center for Democratic Development EUROPOLIS”, with representative Mr. Dane PRIBIC. Certificates were distributed and closure words were held by Mr. Petrit IMERAJ (Head of AAA network) and by Mr. Dane PRIBIC (Head of CDDE network).
At afternoon, AAA network, as an added value to the agenda had foreseen to conduct a meeting with SWG RRD (Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development), by who was supported with P2P funds on implementing project “Logu I Bjeshkeve Tradition – Culture – Product”. The visit was productive and SWG RRD cooperation in the future was established by appointing at this meeting a common project between to SWG and AAA (a follow-up of the finished project).
“Alpartners” project, implemented by Albanian Alps Alliance network, is supported by the Grant Program for Civil Society Capacity Building and Advocacy for Sustainable Rural Development in the Western Balkans, as part of the ALTER project, funded by the European Union, the implementing organization in Albania, IDM Albania.