WESTERN BALKANS – The Steering Committee of the “Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation: Building Capacities and Momentum for the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO)” project supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, met online on Tuesday, 27 October.
Co-chaired by the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Albania Ms Fiona McCluney and RYCO Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša, the meeting discussed the overall project progress in 2020 as well as the challenges posed to the implementation of activities mainly caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Blanuša underlined the contribution that the project has had on the institutionalization of RYCO, on supporting RYCO’s work in capacity building of its beneficiaries, as well as in the design and implementation of diverse activities that engage youth and youth workers from vulnerable communities. He reminded everyone of the challenging environment in which the project is being implemented – from the 2019 earthquake in Albania and ongoing COVID-19 challenges to the general political fragility of the region, and pinpointed the excellent project response to achieving results despite these challenges.
In her opening remarks, Ms McCluney took the opportunity to emphasize the commitment of UN agencies to support RYCO in creating long-term sustainable impact and achieving its mandate. She acknowledged that thanks to the efforts made by RYCO and UN agencies the project managed to progress despite the challenges.
UNPBF Program Management Officer Mr Harald Thorud pointed out that what makes this project particularly exciting is that it tackles one of the key priorities of the UNPBF, also covered in its Strategic Plan – gender and youth promotion. He expressed his hope that if the Western Balkans becomes a fully eligible region for funding, more interesting efforts would follow in the upcoming years.
During the meeting, information about project achievements and timelines for the implementation of the remaining activities were discussed, taking into consideration common issues of concerns, resulting from the challenges in project implementation.
“Supporting the Western Balkan’s Collective Leadership on Reconciliation” is a joint UN-RYCO project, supported financially by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, and implemented in partnership with RYCO, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. It focuses on enhancing social cohesion and regional reconciliation across the Western Balkans as well as strengthening the capacities of RYCO. The project was launched in 2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of April 2021.
The Project’s Steering Committee provides strategic direction and oversight and is the key decision-making authority of the project. It is co-chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and RYCO Secretary General and composed of the representatives of UNPBF, Heads of UN Agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA) and the RYCO Secretariat.