BNLD Western Balkans



Celebrating Local Democracy in Mostar

Celebrating Local Democracy in Mostar

From September 20th to 22nd, Mostar hosted a regional exchange of best practices in the civil sector and local governance under the banner "Seeing is Believing." This event was conducted as part of the "Project Mostar - Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate". During this enlightening study visit, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar had the privilege of welcoming members from the Balkan Network for Local Democracy (BNLD), ALDA Skopje, and other LDAs from the region. The conference held during this exchange marked a significant milestone - the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first Local Democracy Agency (LDA) in the Balkans, namely LDA Subotica.

The "Western Balkans in Mostar" conference was the focal point of this event. Through a series of interactive panel discussions, attendees gained valuable insights into the Mostar Project - Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate. They also fostered connections between ongoing and future efforts of local authorities and civil society in the Western Balkans, comparing the situation in both sectors in each country, but also offering unique perspectives on successes and challenges in their work.

The Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar, through the aforementioned project, primarily focused on enhancing citizen participation in the decision-making process at the local level and improving the capacity of representatives of local authorities and civil society, who are essential links in the functioning of each local self-government.

Katica Janeva, the director of the ALDA Skopje office and regional coordinator for the Balkan Network for Local Democracy emphasized, "Our goal is to ensure that citizens actively engage in all aspects of local government. Often, citizens are unaware of the activities of local institutions, and we, as civil society, aim to bridge that gap and provide a platform for them."

Over the past two years, the Mostar Project has successfully bridged the gap between the City of Mostar and its citizens, offering them a platform for dialogue and creative expression. This was a significant development, given the city's lack of elections since 2008.

On the second day of the visit, the evening program featured two documentaries created as part of the Mostar Project - Spaces that Move, along with a chronology detailing 30 years of Local Democracy Agency activities in the Balkans. These documentaries vividly illustrated the importance of youth participation in driving positive changes in the Western Balkans.

The exchange of best practices between civil society and local authorities concluded with a visit to the Partisan Cemetery in Mostar, where, in addition to discussing the works of the creator Bogdan Bogdanović and the symbols characteristic of his art, attendees were introduced to "Maps that Move You." This initiative helps young people in Mostar gain a better understanding of the history of the city's public spaces.

The "Project Mostar - Spaces to Activate and Rejuvenate" receives funding from the Government of the United Kingdom and is led by People in Need (PIN), a Czech non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian and development aid in over 30 countries worldwide. Alongside PIN, equal consortium members include Everyday Peace Indicators (EPI), Youth Cultural Center Abrašević (OKC Abrašević), Local Democracy Agency Mostar (LDA Mostar), and NEŠTO VIŠE (NV).

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