Network’s mission is to catalyze changes that develop and support innovations on better territorial governance for Western Balkan in line with its European Union ambitions. We achieve our mission through tools and approaches that mirror macro-regional specifics and encompass, but are not limited to: dissemination of information and knowledge, addressing various audiences of professionals and decision-makers, establishment of living laboratories, networking and alliances, bridging with EU institutions, and establishment of evidence-based observatories on territorial development and governance.”
Why this initiative?
Western Balkan Network on Territorial Governance is established to serve as a platform aimed at bringing forward the research on territorial governance in the Western Balkan (WB) countries bringing together research and policy-influencing forces from the region. In more specific terms, the network will work on undertaking pioneering research and policy advocacy across the region, to enhance the domestic territorial governance and impact in a ‘unique voice’ the EU integration of the WB countries from a TG perspective. In so doing, the network aims to strengthen the WB-EU partnerships at the level of academia, researchers’ community, and civic society for dealing with territorial development in the WB in a combined EU-domestic bottom-up fashion.
Such an initiative, because of the exigency it represents and magnitude in terms of scope it serves, goes beyond the mandate of a particular project’s mandate, or a specific organisation’s mission and policy-influencing means.
We believe the establishment of a regional network on Territorial Governance comes at a timely moment: all countries of the Western Balkans region – Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Kosovo – share, despite their diversity and idiosyncrasies, a common aspiration for a future within the EU. As a region, we share similarities with respect to our development and integration agendas, as we do face the imperfections of our planning systems and Territorial Governance (TG) practices. This has rendered the translation of EU policies to practice rather challenging.
Although the EU has dedicated significant funds to achieving better planning and territorial integration of policies, the effort so far has not included the WB countries. Therefore, when the WB eventually makes its way to the EU, both EU and WB will find themselves unprepared to deal with territorial development in a combined EU – domestic fashion. Under these circumstances, the challenge of the WB is twofold: lack of domestic TG and lack of the opportunity to actively contribute to the EU discourse and transfer insights from WB. Failure to meet both challenges is directly translated into the territory in the form of poor and unethical administration of resources, inadequate planning, non-inclusive policy-making, vast territorial disparities, and conflicting development priorities.
Given the importance of TG, we believe this platform can contribute to international research efforts in this domain, cutting across areas such as: multi-level [territorial] governance, regionalization policies and regional development, sustainable urban and/or territorial development, spatial planning, ecosystem-based governance of the natural resources, energy and climate change, place-based tourism development, and civic society. We also believe that the platform will be able to create tools and models for use in policy decision-making and implementation, both domestically and at EU level for purposes of EU integration. Ultimately, we see the network recognized as an important player in EU debates in the region, on planning and territorial governance related topics; recognized for its role in bridging WB issues to European agendas, and as collaborator in European networks.