Workshop “Integrated approach for sustainable agriculture and green rural development in the EUSAIR region”
Lidija Pavic-Rogosic, director of ODRAZ and member of European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) participated remotely at the workshop “Integrated approach for sustainable agriculture and green rural development in the EUSAIR region” which was held on April 19, 2023 in Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) is a macro-regional strategy adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Council in 2014, currently chaired by Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Strategy was jointly developed by the Commission and the Adriatic-Ionian Region countries and stakeholders, which agreed to work together on the areas of common interest for the benefit of each country and the whole region.
The EUSAIR covers ten countries: four EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) and six non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia).
This workshop on sustainable agriculture and green rural development had for objective to put together different stakeholders from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other EU and non-EU EUSAIR countries with the aim to support the EU integration process through the sustainable agriculture and green rural development with a particular focus on the adoption of integrated approach based on the EU Green Deal and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
The long-term vision for the EU’s Rural Areas until year 2040 was presented by Alexia Rouby, policy coordinator at DG AGRI, as well as EU Action Plan for Rural Development. She also informed about planned events and future activities for implementation of Rural Vision.
Lidija Pavic-Rogosic was invited to take part in the first session in the Panel on “Sharing Rural Pact experiences and learning for the future”. Participants heard more about the Rural Pact initiative and EESC’s activities and involvement in Rural Pact. Two opinions were briefly presented:
- NAT/820: Towards a holistic strategy on sustainable rural/urban development (own-initiative opinion)
- NAT/839: EU Long-term vision for rural areas
The presentations were followed by a Q&A with the following participants: Ministries in charge of agriculture and rural development from EUSAIR region; Institutes of agriculture; Faculties of Agriculture; BiH Rural Development Network and other rural stakeholders. The thoughts were shared on the challenges of greening EUSAIR rural areas, but also about need for holistic and more comprehensive approach to development of rural areas.
Some of the messages delivered to the participants by Lidija Pavić-Rogošić:
- The EESC works in different Sections, with the NAT Section aiming to support sustainable agriculture, a healthy planet and a holistic approach for sustainable rural/urban development. The EESC is therefore well-placed to promote the Rural Pact in their organisations and countries.
- The External Relations Section (REX) of the EESC also closely works with accessing countries, including BiH through The Western Balkans Follow-up Committee, in order to follow political, economic and social developments in the Western Balkans and to encourage the development of civil society and the consolidation of democracy in the region.
- For years, the EESC has been heavily engaged in promoting a holistic approach for sustainable rural/urban development and has fully endorsed the ten shared goals of the Long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. EESC officially joined the Rural Pact community and endorses the Rural Pact proposal. The EESC also agreed upon clear commitments to the Pact.
- The Rural Pact can and should help achieve a more comprehensive approach bringing together urban/rural areas, different actors, stakeholders, levels of governance.
- Rural policies need to be adequately integrated and resourced, and not only through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): technological communication, transport infrastructure (especially public transport), energy poverty, quality and efficient education and healthcare must be provided and be fully aligned with the relevant urban services.
- All concerned European Commission departments as well as all Member States, Regions, local authorities and the Council of Ministers, each Council presidency, the European Parliament, the Committee of Regions (CoR) and the EESC itself need to demonstrate their holistic commitment to the vision.
- Civil society organisations, including LEADER/CLLD and local action groups, should develop local rural and urban partnerships to create economic, social and environmental opportunities and foster a better understanding of interdependencies
- Rural areas play a critical role in economic and social cohesion, in regions’ resilience, and in the contribution of countless services from various local ecosystems, including food production. They should be made more attractive for young people and businesses to improve the quality of life and well-being of all EU citizens, allowing them to choose where they want to live and work.
- Governance will be key by ensuring structured involvement and participation of all actors, including civil society.
- The Rural Pact should facilitate structured engagement of civil society.
- Local civil society, workers, social partners and business actors as well as citizens including youth, need to be fully engaged to unlock the immense potential of rural/urban communities, and to co-design and foster their sustainable development.
This international workshop was co-organised by the Directorate for European Integration of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina within project “Promoting EU integration through sustainable agriculture and green rural development in the EUSAIR non-EU countries”.
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