From 26-28 June 2018, the project manager (PM) of the project “Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Western Balkans” visited two of the beneficiary countries in a three-day mission. The mission objectives were to introduce the new person taking over project management responsibilities to key partners within the projects, assess the progress of the SGD process and its key priorities in the national context of each country as well as to consult with beneficiary institutions about the national needs in respect to the upcoming regional event to be planned for autumn 2018. The PM interviewed various stakeholders and the document is written in the form of a narrative report.
The first meeting took place at the premises of the REC Macedonia, where Ms. Milena Manova Ilikj, expert at the REC Macedonia and REC contact person in the country for the project, briefed the PM about the progress of the project in Macedonia, in particular since the beginning of the project until the kick-off meeting held on 28 February 2018. Another topic of discussion was the Regional Course for Sustainable Development to be held in autumn 2018, and potential locations for the course, the potential agenda was a topic to leave to the local expert currently involved with the project as well as the representatives of the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister Office to gather their feedback.
The first meeting was with a representative of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ms. Albana Markja, who has been working in the sector of education for 22 years. Ms. Markja affirmed that Sustainable Development is part of the Albanian Government official documents’ since 2014 and education for SDGs has been a cross cutting issue since 2014. However, in the document gap analysis within the SEEDLING project, it is stated that the literature in the country regarding SD is almost completely outdated. Later that day, the REC delegation met Ms. Klodiana Marika, current Focal Point for the project from the Ministry of Tourism and Environment. Ms. Marika mentioned that the Deputy Prime-Minister has given information about progress on Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production, in particular regarding the waste management topic) and Goal 13 (Climate Action), however, the Ministry is additionally working on Goals 12, 14, 15. Ms. Marika also emphasize that sustainable tourism is an area of potential development, under the Goal 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure). For the regional course she suggests that the REC invites countries that are ahead in SDG implementation to showcase good practices, as well as to present what are the steps the Government of Albania needs to take to fulfil the SDGs. Another suggestion was to invite the Albanian School of Public Administration, and if the participants can get a certification on participation it will be much appealing to them. Other stakeholders to invite to the regional course should be: the Department of Public Administration, within the Prime-Minister Office, the Institute for Statistics. Ms. Marika mentioned also the draft document that the Albanian Government is presenting in the High –Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in New York, document which was prepared with the assistance of UNDP- Albania, the final version can be found here.
The last meeting was with Ms. Eldisa Zhebo, Director of Institute for Change and Leadership in Albania, who had worked with UN agencies over 16 years and was the Millenium Development Goals coordinator in Albania. The Institute for Change and Leadership’s mission is to actively contribute to the social, human and leadership development of the entire Albanian society as well as the Western Balkans, so as to bring about positive change in political, economic and social growth and reforms, equally for all people in the region regardless of their cultural, social or economic differences. This organization may play a larger role in the SDGs Implementation in the Western Balkan project in the rest of the project period (2018-2020) as Ms. Zhebo has valuable expertise and network in Albania and possibly in the rest of the beneficiary countries to connect and create a dialogue on progressing on the SDGs implementation among the members of its network.
On 28 June, 2018 Ms. Silvana Mojsovka, local experts for the project visited the REC premises. The involvement of Ms. Mojsovska has been beneficial to the project as she drafted the document “Overview of the policy creation process and strategic goals of Sustainable Development in the Republic of Macedonia” document which provided an integrated view of the SDG process in the country. Ms. Mojsovska also mentioned that Macedonia has a Technical group and National Council for SD, formed by different institutions, unfortunately, they do not meet very often as it takes efforts from various institutions to attend where the HR capacities are already very limited. It was suggested that during the regional course the importance of statistical data should be raised, and when talking about Goal 8, a connection with GDP and the industry growth should be presented. In the case of focusing on using a methodologies to develop relevant indicators, the members of the National Councils on SDGs in all beneficiary countries should be present.
Later that day, the REC delegation (Ms. Manova Ilikj and Ms. Rosell) visited the premises of the Government of Macedonia in Skopje, at the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister of Macedonia. Ms. Sandra Andovska and Mr. Daniel Josifovski were the Government officials attending to this meeting and facilitated a very comprehensive background story about the development of the Agenda 2030 in Macedonia. Ms. Andovska is one of the people to start working on SDGs (and previously involved in the MDGs) in the case of Macedonia, this is why she has a solid understanding of the progress of this topic in the country and has been very active in the field.
During the meeting Ms. Andovska suggested for the project team to check the platform of Canada on SDGs as it may be a very good example of what to include in the project website. At the moment the Cabinet is focused to strengthen the National Council of SD of Macedonia by a readiness and support programme. Ms. Andovska mentioned a project within the Statistic Office funded by the Instrument pre-Accession Assistance which is monitoring indicators, however, in terms of the latest high level event in New York, Macedonia is not attending. Ms. Andovska expressed interest when talking about the Voluntary National Review (VNR), and it was agreed that it would be very beneficial for the Macedonian Government if the REC could help develop this report for either 2019 or 2020.