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QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

EDITION NO. 57

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

In this edition: Partners Albania with a new name and image page 1 New initiatives -Draft law on whistleblowers -Participatory budgeting at central level -Urban Governance/Integrity Building in South East Europe Urban Partnership Program Phase II (UPP II) page 2 Latest developments from ongoing initiatives -The NPO Academy - Monitoring of the EU Guidelines for the support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries - Guidelines on Freedom of Association -U Impact - From Citizen Involvement to Policy Impact page 3

SEPTEMBER 2015

Partners Albania with a new name and image After 15 years of activity in Albania, building institutional and individual capacities in the country through training and research, and facilitation of processes in and among civil society sector, state institutions and the business sector, Partners Albania comes with a new image and name that best reflects its mission and work. This change is part of the rebranding strategy of Partners for Democratic Change International Network (Partners Albania is a member since its establishment in 2001), to refresh and strengthen its international brand, the visual identity of the organization including name and logo. Since its establishment in 1989, the international network Partners for Democratic Change has developed in a global partnership of 19 independent, local organizations in Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East working for peaceful and democratic change.

-Making the labor market work for young people in Albania page 4 -Towards an alternative tourism -Green Ideas Competition 2015 page 5 -Young Entrepreneurs of Albania -Challenges and opportunities for employment of marginalized groups by Social Enterprises page 6 -Enhancing transparency and accountability of electronic public procurement at local level -Report on public opinion about the preelection situation in Albania page 7 - Enhancing active public participation in political processes and local decision-making -Facilitation of public consultations for preparation of the Government of Albania - UN Program 2017-2021 page 8 -The Albanian Crowd, an interactive platform of Albanian NGOs and social enterprises page 9

ANNOUNCEMENT Partners Albania announces the call for nominations for the Philanthropy Awards 2015! The Philanthropy Awards has become an annual event of Partners Albania, to express our gratitude to individuals, families and businesses who support social causes in their community and accross the country. We invite all social actors in and outside Albania to submit their nominations for individuals or entities who have and continue to give their contribution in benefit of the community and its development in Albania. Categories for nominations for the Philanthropy Awards are:

• Award for Business Entities Contributing at the National Level • Award for Business Entities Contributing at the Local Level • Award for the Individual Contribution Companies and individuals can nominate themselves or be nominated by others. For more information on nomination criteria, and to download the Nomination Form, please visit Partners Albania website: http://www.partnersalbania.org

Deadline for submitting nominations is November 2, 2015!

MEMBER OF PARTNERS GLOBAL

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NEW INITIATIVES

In framework of the initiative supported by the Dutch government for drafting a new Whistleblowers Law in Albania, upon the approval of the law, Partners Albania will assist the governmental institutions to prepare the grounds for the successful implementation of this innovative law that provides a new tool for Albanian citizens to tackle and denounce corruptive acts, in the private or public sector. Juliana Hoxha, PA Director and H.E. Dewi van de Weerd, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands signing the cooperation agreement.

Participatory Budgeting at Central Level Partners Albania, in cooperation with and the support of Olof Palme International Center and OSFA, is implementing an initiative that aims to increase the participation of CSOs and interest groups in the process of participatory budgeting at central level for youth, education, sports and social issues. As part of the initiative it is envisaged the organization of roundtables with Ministry of Social Affairs and Youth, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Finance and members of the Albanian Parliament to advocate about budgeting on priority issues that will be identified by civil society representatives participating in the process.

Urban Governance/Integrity Building in South East Europe Urban Partnership Program Phase II (UPP II) Since August 2015, Partners Albania as part of a regional consortium of organizations from Albania, Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia are implementing the“Urban Governance/ Integrity Building in South East Europe Urban Partnership Program Phase II (UPP II). The UPP II represents a logical continuation of the activities undertaken in SEE countries within the UPP I Strategic and Action Planning. Having set a solid foundation for Anticorruption/Integrity building in 10 municipalities from the first phase, in the second phase the program extends its activities further, through the dissemination of the Anticorruption methodology in about 10 new municipalities in the above mentioned countries.

Partners Albania will organize trainings for civil society organizations on budgeting in the central governance, provided by financial experts. Priority issues to be identified by NGOs during the trainings and round-table discussions, will be the bases of an advocacy plan to include the priorities of the sector in the 2016 budget.

Partners Albania will continue to support Kuçova municipality to revise its Anticorruption Strategy and Action Plan, to reflect the changes in the municipality resulting from the Administrative Territorial Reform, and to implement some of the actions identified in the Action Plan. In addition, Partners Albania will work with two other municipalities, based on their shown interest and commitment to implement the Anticorruption/integrity building methodology.

Through an open call, Partners Albania has received the commitment of a group of organizations working in social services, youth, education and sports fields, to join the initiative and be part of the working groups on the above mentioned issues.

The project will culminate with the Regional Conference that will bring together all Mayors and public managers involved in the integrity building process in the region, along with the WB team, Anticorruption practitioners and international experts to share the experiences and lessons learned drawn from the implementation of the methodology in the SEE countries.

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TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

Draft law on Whistleblowers


LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FROM ONGOING INITIATIVES NPO Academy The NPO Academy, the newest initiative of Partners Albania, started in March 2015 as an education and development program for 17 leaders of organizations from Tirana, Vlora, Berati, Gjirokastra, Kukësi and Shkodra.

The second season of the Academy resumed in September with other interactive sessions led by training experts of Partners Albania, guest lecturers both local and international, to be concluded with a study visit to Slovakia where the participants will be introduced to the Slovak organizations practical experience related to topics discussed in the Academy. The visit will be organized in partnership with Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia. The NPO Academy is supported by the Olof Palme International Center in Albania.

Monitoring of the EU Guidelines for the support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries Klotilda Tavani Kosta, PA Director of Programs, participated in the Regional Conference: “Monitoring of the EU Guidelines for the Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries, 2014-2020 - Year 1”, organized on 28-30 April in Belgrade. As a member of Balkan Civil Society Development Network, PA prepares each year the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for CSO Development, Country Report for Albania, part of a regional monitoring report the findings of which are used by the DG Enlargement as a means of verifications for the first two components of the EU Guidelines for the Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries, 2014-2020 (conductive environment & civil dialogue). The conference served to discuss at country and regional level about the revision of the national targets and benchmarks, key inputs for the Progress Reports in each country, priority indicators and the needed elements for the establishment of a monitoring system for the EU Guidelines.

Guidelines on Freedom of Association Juliana Hoxha, Partners Albania Director was part of the consultation round-tables and seminars held in the process of drafting The Joint OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission Guidelines on Freedom of Association. These Guidelines aim to offer advice and expertise on how to legislate on freedom of association-related matters, in a manner that is compliant with international human rights standards and OSCE commitments. They also reflect evolving good state practices, and are intended to enhance awareness of the above right in general. They will offer a practical toolkit to legislators tasked with drafting laws which regulate or affect associations, but also to associations, members of associations and human rights defenders, to support advocacy in this field of human rights law.  

U IMPACT - From Citizen Involvement to EU Policy Impact Partners Albania is one of the nine partner organizations implementing the “U Impact - From Citizen Involvement to EU Policy Impact” project, in frame of Europe for Citizens program of the European Union. The project coordinates citizen involvement with the public authorities on national and European level in eight EU member states and one candidate state in order to develop a sustainable mechanism for increased impact of citizen initiatives on the policy making process in the EU. Blerina Guga , PA Project Manager during the discussion at the launching conference of U- IMPACT project in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 2015

U-Impact builds on the positive experience of the partners in the implementation of the project “Joint Citizen Action for a Stronger, Citizen-Friendly Union” (JoiEU) under which participants have debated and developed policy recommendations in several areas related to European citizenship. For information and updates on U-IMPACT please visit: http://u-impact.net/

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TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

During March - June 2015 Partners Albania organized seven sessions on topics related to the legal and fiscal framework for the operation of NPOs, sessions on organizational development, financial management, fundraising, etc.


Making the labor market work for young people in Albania Some of the main activities of RisiAlbania project during this period were:

www.risialbania.al

RisiAlbania conducted for the first time the competition “Risi Turistike”, organized in Berat and Shkodra in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade and Entrepreneurship, in support of the development of tourism sector as one of the priorities of economic development and jobs creation. Tourists visiting Albania will have soon four brand new touristic products to enjoy during their stay. Bird watching, lake cruises, tourist information centers and branded souvenirs will be the latest additions to the region’s touristic offer. National competition “Risi Turistike” will become a yearly activity under the management of existing tourism structures as well. It will be supported by various stakeholders such as business, local and central government, donors who are always looking for innovative ideas in tourism sector. In addition, RisiAlbania is partnering with the National Tourist Guides Association to develop a unified system for the training, certification and licensing of tourist guides in Albania. The establishment of the new Adventure Resort Center situated close to the Osumi Canyons, in the picturesque Skrapari region, is now secured. It will be the first center of its kind in offering eco-tourism products in Albania, helping to preserve, educate and better appreciate the nature while providing alternative employment and income generating opportunities for local communities in Berat, Skrapar, Përmet and Gjirokastra. This center is expected to immediately employ 38 persons and potentially up to 57 persons by its completion in 2017.

New media formats to boost employment RisiAlbania and the Faculty of Journalism at the University of Tirana organized a conference which brought together media experts, journalists and students of journalism, showcasing several innovative models of how media can inform youth on employment issues. The German experience on how media reports on jobs and employment came from the Rundfunk BerlinBrandenburg (RBB) Television, positively challenging the current practices of job reporting in the Albanian media, and also presenting success stories that can be followed and implemented in Albania.

MOOCs, code and jobs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) give everyone with an internet connection access to free, quality courses in almost any subject. And now MOOCs are also available for IT programing in Albanian! Real Visualz, RisiAlbania partner, through the online platform ALMOOC is rapidly developing its offer of free high quality IT courses, with a focus on web and software development. In just a couple of months, over 1500 students have enrolled in the first 4 courses, including 35% women, each course being followed by an average of 380 students. In addition, Real Visualz has offered 17 students work as independent individuals (freelance), even full-time employment for 7 of them.

Establishing Skill Sector Committees: bridging the education – business world gap

In order to bridge the gap between VET providers and the market needs, RisiAlbania is working closely with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth to setup Skill Sector Committees. RisiAlbania has developed a model for the establishment of these committees, which has now been endorsed by the Government of Albania. In order to see first-hand how they function, a study visit was organized in Estonia. The visit has reinforced the conviction of the participants about the usefulness of such committees and relevant stakeholders are now ready to start piloting them into three sectors where RisiAlbania is active, namely Agro-processing, Tourism and ICT.

Improved marketing services for Agro-processors

Access to marketing services for food processors remains a significant obstacle to their further growth. RisiAlbania is therefore partnering with the Albanian Association of Marketing to enable access to simple, locally based and affordable consultancy services, focusing on marketing service and on agro-tourism. In partnership with National Employment Service, up to 120 young unemployed women and men from the regions of Fier, Skrapar and Korça will have the opportunity to be employed as local agents or independent consultants.

RisiAlbania project is implemented by a consortium of Helvetas Swiss Inter-cooperation and Partners Albania, and funded by the Embassy of Switzerland in Albania.

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TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

“Risi Turistike” Awards 2015 in Berat and Shkodra


Towards an Alternative Tourism From June 2013 to March 2015 Partners Albania and partner organizations MEDF and LDA Struga in Macedonia worked to support the sustainable economic development through the promotion of alternative tourism in the cross-border area of Korça region in Albania and Struga, Ohrid, Debarca and Vevcani in Macedonia. During the initial phase of the project, Partners Albania conducted a mapping of tourism products and services with highest potential for development of tourism in the region of Korça. An important component of the project was the enhancement of businesses capacities to provide qualitative services.

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

Partners Albania and MEDF designed and implemented an intensive media campaign promoting the region as a tourist destination, through TV ads, a website, a documentary film and a series of promotional materials depicting tourist attractions in the project area. As part of the efforts to promote the region, were organized cross-border visits of business representatives, journalists and tour operators from Albania and Macedonia, exchanging experiences and promoting best practices. The project “Towards an alternative tourism” was implemented by Partners Albania, MEDF Foundation and LDA Struga, and was supported by the European Union and the ABC Foundation.

Green Ideas 2015 Partners Albania organized in May 11-12, 2015 in Tirana, the national competition “Green Ideas 2015”. This is the fourth year Partners Albania organizes the Green Ideas Competition which promotes social inclusion and local economic development through the utilization of local resources and the revival of traditions, following an environmental-friendly approach. The novelty of this competition lies on collaboration and creation of a joint seed fund created through private and business donations, local and international philanthropic donors. This year’s competition was supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tirana, Credins Bank and Telekom Albania. Seventeen finalists selected from the first phase presented their ideas in front of a panel of experts who selected three winners: NaturALB Soaps, an initiative of the organization Youth Center Borderless, consists in the production of healthy natural soaps from aromatic and oil local plants, employing and supporting local farmers.

4 eyes for the nature an initiative of the Ornithological Association of Albania, consists in the promotion of Birdwatching and the protection of biodiversity and nature through offering BW in the form of a green touristic package.

From Tradition to Creativity an initiative of the association “Northern Craftswomen” consists in the production of crafts and other objects through recycling willow. The social enterprise will employ young people from disadvantaged groups in Shkodra region.

Three winning ideas will be financially supported and assisted by Partners Albania during the first year of implementation. The winners of the national competition participated in the regional competition “Philanthropy for Green Ideas” organized by Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Kosovo, on 24-27 July 2015.

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Young Entrepreneurs of Albania As part of PA initiative to promote youth employment and entrepreneurship, it was organized the televised competition “Young Entrepreneurs of Albania”, broadcasted on Vizion Plus TV.

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

Nine winning companies from the competitions organized in the schools “Harry Fultz” in Tirana and “Beqir Çela” in Durrës, pitched their ideas in front of a jury consisting of representatives of business companies committed to financially support the winning ideas. The youngsters presented their business ideas through photographs and prototypes of products and services, or interactive computer softwares they designed. The three winners were:

I Choose, which will be financially supported by Alpha Bank for the creation of a rod equipped with sensors, an assisting device for visually impaired people to help them be more independent.

KEID, which will be financially supported by Çelësi Company for the creation of Techno Pen, a smart pen that records everything that listens, automatically transferring the information in a smartphone or tablet.

E-Type Blind Assistant, which will be financially supported by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tirana, to build a software for simulating a Braille keyboard, assisting visually impaired people to write on the computer.

The project “Young Entrepreneurs of Albania” is implemented by Partners Albania with the support of the Public Affairs Office of the United States Embassy in Tirana and in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.

Challenges and Opportunities for Employment of Marginalized Groups by Social Enterprises In framework of the regional research initiative on social enterprises as a driver for employment of marginalized groups in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, during this period Partners Albania research team conducted interviews with 30 entities functioning as social enterprises in Albania. Interviews served to create an overview of these social enterprises as regards their legal and operational form, governance and management structure, as well as employment opportunities they can provide for marginalized groups. Findings from the interviews and recommendations will be part of the research report Partners Albania will prepare by the end of 2015. As representative of the research team, Ariola Agolli, PA Director of Programs participated in several regional and international activities related to social entrepreneurship. The workshop on “Producing Policy Relevant Analysis & Writing to Influence Decision Making”, was organized in Belgrade on 25 - 27 June, with participation of researchers from the Regional Promotion Programme in Western Balkans (RRPP) funded projects.

For project’ products visit the website http://socialenterprisesbalkans.org/

On June 30 - July 3rd was held in Helsinki the conference “Building a scientific field to foster the social enterprise eco-system”, organized by the international research network EMES. Together with colleagues from Kosovo and Macedonia, Ariola Agolli presented in the conference the paper “Social enterprise models in transitional countries: legacy from socialism, challenges from capitalism and uncertainties from rising inequalities”, a collaborative research work among the partner organizations involved in the research project on social enterprises in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

The research project is implemented by partner organizations in Albania (Partners Albania), in Macedonia (Reactor - Research in Action, Konekt and Center for Media Activities), and in Kosovo (Center for Peace and Tolerance). The initiative is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in cooperation with Universite de Fribourg.

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Enhancing the Transparency and Accountability of Electronic Public Procurement at Local Level From November 2013 to April 2015 Partners Albania undertook an initiative to monitor the implementation of the Public Procurement Law, transparency of the process and satisfaction of economic operators with procurement procedures in the municipalities of Berati, Fieri, Himara and Saranda. The purpose of the monitoring was to assess the alignment of procurement procedures followed by the respective municipalities and to identify technical, legal and implementation issues. Partners Albania brought in this monitoring the voice of economic operators as an added value to the assessment of procurement practice.

The conference was addressed by H.E. Dewi van de Weerd, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Enea Hoti, Advisor to the Minister of Local Affairs, representatives of the Public Procurement Agency and participating mayors. In her remarks, H.E. Dewi van de Weerd highlighted the importance of such initiatives that promote transparency and good governance. She appreciated the inclusive approach that PA applied in this process including all different stakeholders and affected groups of citizens, and creating spaces for dialogue and transparency. Panelists and participants discussed on some of the issues encountered during implementation of public procurement at local level and shared opinions and recommendations for improvement of the public procurement system.

Use of Electronic Procurement System at Local Level, Monitoring Report is available online at Partners Albania website, under Publications menu.

This initiative is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania, under the MATRA program for civil society.

Report on public opinion about the pre-election situation in Albania In early April 2015, Partners Albania organized a series of focus group meetings with citizens in frame of the research initiated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Albania to discern the most significant informational and educational needs of citizens in the final few months before Local Elections of June 21, 2015. Partners Albania organized 8 focus groups across the country, in rural and urban locations, with focus on some of the areas affected by the Administrative Territorial Reform specifically in Vora, Rubik, Orikum, Ura Vajgurore, Ndroq, Mbrostar, Dropull, and Bushat. The focus groups reached voting age citizens (women and men) with different educational, ethnic, economic and cultural background. The discussions attempted to explore general issues in voter education and awareness, the reasons for supporting a candidate or party, attitudes toward women’s participation in voting and standing for office, understanding of electoral violations and sanctions, and the affects or impact of the recent administrative territorial reform on voter’s behavior. All the findings and recommendations from the focus groups are reflected in the report “Research on voter education and motivation prior to the June 2015 local elections in Albania” that was released prior to the local election of June 2015 to offer to every interested national or international entity, information on preelection situation and issues of voters’ education and motivation in the country.

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On April 30, 2015, Partners Albania organized a public event to launch the results, findings and recommendations of the study. Government representatives, mayors and other local officials, donors and organizations working with and supporting local government attended the event.


Enhancing active public participation in political processes and local decision-making

Partners Albania assisted coalitions of local stakeholders (representatives of CSOs, business community, media, youth and students, etc.) in Durrësi, Vlora, Puka, Lezha, Kavaja, Elbasani and Pogradeci, on the design and implementation of advocacy campaigns around priority issues for their communities.

Work with local coalitions to design the advocacy campaigns.

In the pre - election period, the citizen coalitions worked to identify and include priority issues in the agendas and programs of candidates for mayors.

During the forum with the candidates for mayor in Pogradec. At the conclusion of the activity, the candidates signed a cooperation agreement with the Coalition “Citizens for Citizens”.

Since September, Partners Albania is assisting the citizen’s coalitions to turn election promises in concrete working plans in the respective municipalities, with the aim of establishing a sustainable model of participatory budgeting as a mechanism to increase the representation and influence of citizens in local decision making. The initiative is implemented by Partners Albania with the support of Olof Palme International Center and the Embassy of the United States of America in Tirana.

Public consultations for preparation of the Government of Albania - UN Programme for the period 2017-2021 Partners Albania organized a series of public consultations in framework of the preparation of the Government of Albania - UN Programme for the period 20172021. The consultative meetings were organized in Tirana, Shkodra and Korça with representatives of civil society organizations, local government, private sector, media and various interest groups such as children and youth, women, people with disabilities, Roma and Egyptian communities etc. During June-July 2015 was organized the first round of consultations in framework of the preparation of the Common Country Assessment, that provided an analytical basis on the political, economic and social situation in the country. During September was organized the second round of consultations to identify strategic development priorities and planning of the United Nations support in Albania.

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In framework of local election 2015, Partners Albania worked toward enhancing active public participation in political processes and local decision-making.


www.thealbaniancrowd.org

The Albanian Crowd

The Albanian Crowd is an interactive online platform of the Albanian NGOs and social enterprises. The platform provides comprehensive information on the location, scope of work, areas of activity, beneficiaries, services the organizations and social enterprises offer and projects they are currently working on. We encourage all organizations that are already part of the platform to send us frequent updates, news about their work or requests for volunteers and supporters for their programs and initiatives.

Partners Albania is an Albanian organization with a mission to advance the Albanian society and a culture of change and conflict management. Partners Albania is a member of Partners Global, a network of 19 independent organizations in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Middle East, working for peaceful and democratic change.

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY

All Albanian organizations and interested groups can join the platform by completing the online registration form in the following link: http://www.thealbaniancrowd.org/ aplikimi/

Address: Rruga Sulejman Delvina, N.18, H.8, Ap. 12, NjĂŤsia Bashkiake 5, Kodi Postar 1022, Tirana, Albania, PO BOX 2418/1, Tel: +355 4 2254881 Fax: 2254883 Email: partners@partnersalbania.org Http://www.partnersalbania.org Follow us in

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Towards a Sustainable Society  

Partners Albania Newsletter, edition 57, September 2015

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