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Session 6: Image of the Future: A Green, More Developed Western Balkans (supported by UN Women and in partnership with Women’s Platform for Development of Serbia 2014-2020))

Session 6: Image of the Future: A Green, More Developed Western Balkans (supported by UN Women and in partnership with Women’s Platform for Development of Serbia 2014-2020))

Discussion Points:

  • What (economic) is Western Balkans development vision?
  • Who should be at the core of investment in development?
  • What are the missing ingredients?
  • What role(s) for the state(s)?
  • How do we recognize and boost success?
  • What about the ’invisible’ burden ?


We want to explore opportunities that are real but that may have been underappreciated and/or under-invested in so far with regards to a harmonious and sustainable economic, social and environmental development of the Western Balkans region.

We start from a premise that there are sizable underutilized resources in the Western Balkans (human, natural and financial) but that we are also faced with significant actual and/or pending threats to development, especially with regards to lasting damages to natural resources and neglect of human resources which is conducive to brain drain and brain waste.

We will discover avenues that lead Western Balkan countries to boost and not undermine chances for tomorrow.  We will seek answers that ensure re-energized commitment to policies as instruments leading to improved quality of life for citizens of Western Balkan countries, freedom of entrepreneurship initiative, support to research and development, innovation, ICT and digitization, as well as development of basic services for citizens whose needs are currently being under-served in rural areas, for example.  We will attempt to consider and perhaps even answer some of the following key questions:

Wouldn’t it be great if we signed up for development that preserves natural resources and ensures a balance between economic, social and environmental objectives? Could we rely more on circular economy, green economy and the so-called doughnut economics[1] in search for better answers to quality of life issues[2]? Why are we not prioritizing the power of social and technological innovation in the Western Balkans? What if we did?   How would the roles of key stakeholders need to change?

Who is in the center of current policies and measures for economic development support in different Western Balkans’ countries? Are we creating societies where women and men, girls and boys come last? What about water and other natural resources and animals?

Could we be stuck in legal forms that prevent development and growth of ideas and initiatives? Or is there a chance still for us to leap frog and turn the delays in economic development into advantages for a green Western Balkans?

Is cooperation and collaboration the true and missing secret ingredient that we have yet to utilize in our new take on the Western Balkans’ economic cuisine? Can we value local economic contributions more in order to gain more from local actors? Are Western Balkans’ states still hostile to entrepreneurship and innamoured with large foreign direct investors who have yet to arrive? Are collaborative systems the new way forward?

Can small countries do it better? Are Western Balkans’ states true leaders in guiding economic development the way SIFIRE (SIngapore, FInland, IREland) did? Are Western Balkans’ states benevolent but under-skilled in terms of supporting economic development? Or could they be investing in myths? Are local communities embracing their development roles?

Can we do more in terms of measuring and promoting successes and learning from experiences? Within the framework for EU integrations, what is the room for manouevre and experimentation  in picking economic development recipes? Is there a role for private sector in acknowledging what works? Do citizens have a say?

Can we truly move forward without unpacking the unpaid work and low paid care economy? Should we wait for others to start talking about it? Is there a mandatory sequencing in development where equality comes last? Or is equality a prerequisite for inclusive development?


Selected Readings:



[2] Women’s Platform for the Development of Serbia