Barriers and opportunities of Aarhus Convention

In the framework of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention (October 18-22), EDEN center had the pleasure to participate in the preliminary sessions organized for this meeting.
In the session " An assessment of barriers and opportunities for young environmentalists accessing justice using the Aarhus Convention" organized by the Youth and Environment Europe network and European Environmental Bureau on 12Aarhus 20 2001 2021 Logo JPEGjpg small October 2021, EDEN center was invited as speaker for sharing its experience in implementing the convention in Albania and the implementation challenges that the convention has. Lira Hakani Program Officer, Public Information and Participation from EDEN center focused her presentation on the importance of the Aarhus Convention, emphasizing that there is a constant need for information and awareness of young people, residents in general, but also the organizations themselves for the important function that the convention has for the environment.

Lira Hakani said: "The Aarhus Convention is the most important convention in the environmental sector. The convention is becoming more necessary to be used in the moment when the environment is at a critical moment, and the impacts on human beings are long lasting on health and social life. We all have the right to be informed, to participate in decision-making processes and to go to court, and this is provided to us through the convention. Young people beyond protests, marches, should know how to use the Convention so that the raised environmental issues can be presented in other settings as well. Government bodies should see young people as an asset and not as a challenge, the spirit of cooperation should be developed and the role of each actor that put in practice Aarhus convention should be understood in order to ensure a more sustainable environment": 

The online meeting continued by presenting concrete cases of violation of the right to information, of directing cases in court. Participants from different countries presented similar realities, emphasizing more and more the importance of information and awareness raising.

 

Training on Environmental Watchdog for representative of CSOs

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Environmental policy-making and decision-making are at an important stage due to the moment of Albania's political dialogue on its EU integration process (approximation of environmental policies according to the environmental acquis/chapter 27).

Given this, the role of civil society organizations is a catalyst and necessary for the orientation of environmental policies towards EU models and for enhancing the participation and transparency of these processes. To increase the participation and effectiveness of interaction between civil society organizations and decision-making structures in charge of environmental and energy policies, watchdogging and active participation are essential.

EDEN Center, on October 7 and 11, organized two training sessions to build the capacities of civil society organizations (CSOs) on environmental watchdog in order to strengthen the role and position of CSOs in the process of the country's EU integration process, focused on environmental acquis. More than +15 environmental civil society organisations benefited from the training sessions.

During this training, CSO representatives were introduced to the practice of environmental watchdog, the main steps in starting a watchdog campaign, the history of environmental watchdog cases in the country and the region, possible current cases that can be followed by environmental CSOs through environmental watchdog. In the following, participants interacted to build plans for environmental vigilance campaigns, combining their previous experience with the knowledge and skills gained during the training.

We thank the participants for their contribution and active engagement in discussions and working group sessions.

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The program for building the capacities on environmental watchdog comes as part of the "Empowering Civil Society Activism and Concrete contribution into EU accession negotiation process in Albania", implemented by EDEN Center and EDMI, with the financial support of the European Union in the frame of IPA 2017 program.

 

Nature - Folk - Gastronomy in Has Municipality

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On 27.09.2021, for the International Tourism Day, the fair “Nature - Folk - Gastronomy. Has the new gate of the cross border tourism" was held in the Municipality of Has.

The fair as a coorganisation between Has Municipality and EDEN center was held organized in the square "Pjetër Bogdani", in front of the Municipality of Has, and aimed to promote Has and the region for its natural values, tradition, culture, energy, and spirit.

More than 20 farmers and artisans, from Has, Kukes, and Klina Commune presented their products conveying the importance of cooperation and promotion of cross-border values for tourism development. This fair is even more special as it promotes the green practices of the Municipality of Has. In the framework of the project "GREEN CROSSING - towards the local green economy through intelligent investments" supported by European Union funds in the Municipality of Has has been realized an investment for public lighting making it more efficient. Exterior normal lamps have been replaced with LED lamps and training is underway to increase the capacity of the municipality and residents for green practices and ecosystem services.

The fair got greeted by the Mayor of Has, Mr. Liman Morina who encouraged such initiatives for the promotion of the area and the development of tourism to take place as often as possible. Has still has unexplored values which should be advertised taking into account the importance of cross-border cooperation with the Municipality of Klina. Mr. Morina highlighted: the intelligent investment made in the Municipality, more efficient public lighting with the replacement of normal lamps with LED ones; the latest 5-year action plan approved by the municipality for Ecosystem Services

The prefect of the region, Mr. Zenel Kuçana, emphasized that the region of Kukës needs such initiatives to be continuous, to strengthen the spirit of the region and cooperation among us and to encourage investments in the area towards green practices.

Other participants in the fair were from the Municipality of Tropoja, the Municipality of Kukës, the Regional Agency of Protected Areas Kukës, Representatives from Kosovo, the Ministry of Local Government, civil society organizations, etc. who unanimously welcomed the regional and cross-border development according to green practices and behavior to the attention of the two municipalities of Has and Klina for their243149492 544942483271735 7705323999462845338 npractices so far.

In addition, all those present had the opportunity to explore more the nature, folklore, and cuisine of the area through the performance by the art troupe of Has, the cultural center, the products of the farmers, and the handicrafts placed in the stands.

EDEN Center and Has Municipality thank all those present at this fair for the energy brought.

We welcome you to upcoming activities.

 

  • Photos of the fair can be found on EDEN facebook page accessible here 
  • RTSH Kukesi media coverage is accessible here

The fair is organised in the frame of the  "GREEN CROSS – Towards Local Green Economies with Smart Investments" project is financially supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Albania through the cross-border program Albania-Kosovo under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) and implemented in Albania by the Center EDEN and Has Municipality and in Kosovo by Balkan Green Foundation and Klina Commune

 

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Participatory Budgeting in Has Municipality

EDEN Cent held 4 meetings for residents in the Municipality of Has, on 7 and 8 September 2021 regarding participatory budgeting. These meetings were organized in the administrative unit Krumë and Golaj regarding suggestions and comments of residents for the budget provided for the following year in 2022.Foto buxhetim me pjesemarrje

These meetings were attended by about 35 participants with whom were discussed 5 budget programs were selected from a total of 23. The selected budget programs were: Irrigation infrastructure management; Forest and pasture management; Rural road network; Waste management; Sewage management and sewerage

It should be noted that the budget of the Municipality of Has in 2020 was 450,277,495 ALL, of which 31% of this budget represents administrative expenditures, 48% are funds for social services and the rest are operational and reserve funds. Only 8% of the budget goes to investment in community development and the budget does not meet any need for investment in various sectors and categories of municipal services. The financial capacities of the Municipality of Has are the lowest at the county level.

The open discussion was referred to a) budget allocation according to the importance/priorities of the programs and the impact on the population and the territory; b) division according to the urban-rural area; c) the method of gathering preliminary information regarding budget requests.

Most of the residents present at the meeting did not have detailed information about participatory budgeting before starting this process and this was another opportunity to talk about the concerns and needs of the community. Suggestions focused mainly on improving the infrastructure to better connect the villages between them; for furthering the development of tourism by creating opportunities for cooperation with the surrounding areas; upgrading insulated school buildings to withstand cold winters; conversion of existing non-functional buildings accordingly to the needs of the population as centers with social services for women, youth, kindergartens, etc .; to plan funds in the sector of agriculture and food as well as forest service, including agricultural infrastructure; planning the creation of collection points of main agricultural products; agricultural and rural counseling; support farmers, etc. Residents said that although the municipality offers small opportunities, they are still underestimated and the area has opportunities for development in various sectors.

Participatory Budgeting is a comprehensive process, which enables the participation of citizens and all other local actors in decision-making on the preparation and distribution of the local budget.
Participatory budgeting is a process led by local government bodies (municipality and its council) in cooperation with the community. This process should ensure participation, information on the budget plan, including planned investments and services, and should enable the community to discuss and address important issues and priorities during the budget consultation. Finally, this process should ensure that funds planned for services and investments are consulted and community recommendations are considered for the approval of a local public budget in response to the needs and priorities of the community.

Training on Green Entrepreneurship and Good Practices

The second capacity development training in the frame of the EU funded “Green Cross – towards local green economies with smart investments”* project was held in Klina Municipality on 9-10 September 2021. The training broughtprocessedtogether stakeholders from the municipality of Klina, the Municipality of Has, small business holders - entrepreneurs from both regions, farmers, representatives of the local governments, social activists and representatives of local CSO’s.
The aim of the training was to increase the capacity of the most important actors in the cross-border region, with a multiplier effect of diffusion to the larger public on green entrepreneurship and share good practices that can be replicated in both areas.

As such the most important principles of sustainability, entrepreneurship, conventional and innovative green entrepreneurship was presented and jointly discussed. What can the business sector do to transform themselves to green business, and what the policy makers can do to incentivize businesses to become green and sustainable was elaborated and were jointly discussed, including in group work. Further on, including the practical measures and inclusive growth that derives from these principles, including and inclusive economic growth with no social strata left behind were presented and discussed in a participatory fashion.
The training used theory to practice methods of information exchange including sharing of experiences of small entrepreneurs present, ideas, and practical recommendations. Also the importance and practicality, including the effects of larger institutional policy measures was elaborated, and how these measures aid in the development of green businesses and sustainability.
Externalities and health consequences were discussed in conventional business models, the transformation from conventional forms to innovative forms of green entrepreneurship and how this can be achieved. The importance of the value chain was discussed, inputs, outputs and innovation technology with a benefit both economically in reducing costs and increasing efficiency, reducing environmental footprint and increasing health outcomes. Creative ideas were discussed in good practices and adaptation with the trend of the new innovation and technology. Sector inter-linkage, between sustainable development, tourism agriculture was discussed and reflected upon with practical ideas and discussions.

Joint recommendation were drafted as a result of the group work, joint active discussion and the nature of participatory approach, will be included in the preparation of the guiding manuals as a practical capacity development tool as practical useful recommendations that can be included in the local policy making process to further aid in the sustainable local development.
The training focused also on increasing environmental awareness and using green, sustainable practices to enable the local development of the cross-border region in Albania and Kosovo, via strengthening the capacity of the local economic and policy sector.

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The "GREEN CROSS – Towards Local Green Economies with Smart Investments" project is financially supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Albania through the cross-border program Albania-Kosovo under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) and implemented in Albania by the Center EDEN and Has Municipality and in Kosovo by Balkan Green Foundation and Klina Commune

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