SCN in the Western Balkans
From its inception, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) has supported local leaders and practitioners to share first-hand experience and learning on preventing all forms of violent extremism, informing and improving policy and practice in their own communities. With more than 40 SCN member cities across the Western Balkans region, municipalities are well placed to develop and adapt their own locally-driven initiatives, benefitting in the process from tried and tested international best practice and peer support.
From initial membership in January 2016 in Cair municipality in Skopje, North Macedonia, and Peja and Gjilan municipalities in Kosovo, cities and towns across Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have joined the network in a unique commitment on the part of local leaders to work together to improve their resilience – in social and security terms – to hate, violence and terror. Over the course of 2016-17, ISD worked with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to build regional engagement, connect Balkan municipalities to the global SCN, and deliver 3 in-country training meetings, as well as a region-wide practitioner workshop held in Durrës, Albania in September 2017. Training sessions incorporated issues from risk assessments and local action planning to youth engagement strategies, local referral mechanisms, and working with former violent extremists on deradicalisation and disengagement programming.
Continuing this engagement in 2018, the SCN has awarded one Local Innovation Grant to GUS Albania, a regionally-based organisation for small project delivery in partnership, or working closely, with a SCN member municipality. In addition, the SCN delivered in-depth city consultations, working directly with local political leaders and policymakers to identify specific local needs and gaps in local capability. SCN members in the Western Balkans are also continuously involved in global training and activities through the SCN Global Summit and Online Hub. With extensive regional membership and buy-in at the highest levels, the SCN is well positioned to work with national governments, municipalities and local communities to shape and deliver informed, contextualised and robust measures to drive down risk and promote safety and security region-wide.
Regional practitioners workshop in Durrës, Albania
The SCN Regional Practitioners’ Workshop for the Western Balkans took place on 12-13 September 2017 in Durrës, Albania. SCN member cities from across Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia were joined by partner organisations, experts and multilaterals. The workshop was hosted by SCN partners, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and built on in-country training sessions in Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro earlier this year. In addition to the practitioner training, the event’s opening sessions also brought together key national figures and regional mayors, building cooperation across a membership of more than 40 cities region-wide. Click here to read the full report of the workshop.
City consultations in the Western Balkans
On 17-20 September 2018 the SCN team led consultation activities with member cities and local stakeholders in Kosovo and North Macedonia. Following an engagement and training phase that led more than 40 municipalities across the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) to join the SCN, we are now seeking to deepen our engagement and support local infrastructure and capacity building initiatives in selected partner municipalities. As a first step, a thorough understanding of the local contexts, activity to date, and existing or planned programming across the region is central. In addition to discussing with Mayor Mytaher Haskuka of Prizren and Mayor Visar Ganiu of Cair (Skopje) their respective specific challenges in P/CVE, the SCN team also received briefings and coordination updates on national efforts from the CT and CVE National Coordinators in Kosovo and North Macedonia. Finally, recognising the central role of practitioners, civil society actors and project implementers, the SCN team met with local and international organisations to discuss their current and future projects in the area of P/CVE (ICITAP, Democracy Lab, Konica Institute, CIVIL, OSCE, and Search for Common Ground). This activity underlines an exciting period of SCN development in the Western Balkans, engaging a significant membership in a critical region.
Local innovation grant for the Western Balkans
Following an open call for expressions of interest and after full consideration of more than 80 applications received prior to the deadline, we are very pleased to announce the award of our Local Innovation Grant for the Western Balkans to GUS Albania.
GUS Albania is a NGO, established in 2015 in Tirana. GUS Albania aims to strengthen Albanian CSOs by providing training and organising conferences, and also focuses on youth policies, EU integration, and immigration and emigration in Albania. GUS Albania also organises international exchanges, as part of the 2017 Erasmus+ project Get Started as well as local partner of the project You.Albania. You.Albania is an international exchange programme for youth, bringing young people from Italy to Albania as part of the Italian National Civil Service.
Resources for the region
Our local partners
The SCN works together with several partners in this region: