ALBANIA/KOSOVO/MONTENEGRO – Within the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, EcoAlbania in partnership with the Environmentally Responsible Action Group (ERA) from Kosovo and the Green Home from Montenegro implemented the project “Cross-border Dialogue: Youth Collaboration for Transboundary Dinaric Alps”.
The project took place from November 2019 to July 2020 and strengthened youth environmental awareness on the protection and promotion of the cross-border area. It focused on environmental issues as well as on the cultural and economic aspects of the Western Balkan region by bringing youth together in virtual and in-person discussions on conservation and environmental challenges, cultural values and opportunities for sustainable growth.
“Our main goal was to create cooperation bridges for youth in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, making possible that they see the Transboundary Dinaric Alps not as a geographical phenomenon that separates them from each other but as a meeting point that encourages them to cooperate,” Project Coordinator Ms Samel Kruja stated.
Throughout the activities, youth were encouraged to share and address ideas on the threats posed to nature conservation and lack of youth collaboration for shared environmental causes in the region. Moreover, they also discussed the obstacles to the lack of information and exchange of ideas and experience, pointing out that such programs help them engage in cross-border dialogue, learn and network with each other.
“It was very encouraging to meet young people with the same interests in environmental action in mountainous areas and not only, as this will help identify potential future cooperation in upcoming environmental undertakings. Furthermore, it was very helpful to meet and get straightforward advice from experts with years of experience and a lot to learn from. This helped me understand the reality better and see for myself the living, economic, social and environmental conditions of the area and the people, which will help address the problems more efficiently,” one of the project participants, Ms Silvana Rusi underlined.
Speaking of the environmental and common challenges shared in the region and development opportunities, Mr Melitjan Nezaj, another project participant, added: “During the training I was convinced that the places of the Western Balkans, in addition to similarities in culture and thought, also have common problems. This made me realize that they could not find isolated solutions. Youth must work together to deal better and faster with these problems.”
In the conclusion of the project, youth discussed ideas for new collaborative projects and explored new opportunities to promote the environmental and sustainable protection of the region through youth cooperation.
“We raised awareness on the importance of protecting and promoting the Dinaric Alps cross-border area and helped youth cooperation in promoting common values and challenges in the Western Balkans,” Ms Kruja concluded.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.