Training, workshops, study visits and more – Capacity Building in the Western Balkans

Another objective of POLICY ANSWERS is to strengthen the local efforts in the WB to support policy making and programme implementation of the “Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport” (WB Agenda) through capacity building.

For this purpose, project partners outlined a harmonised methodology for identifying capacity building topics and priorities in each WB economy.

According to these guidelines, partners were guided to implement consultations with the respective stakeholders and drafted the work programme for capacity-building activities; they prepared detailed plans for the first 12 months and more general plans for the following yearsand plan for services such as training, seminars, workshops etc.

Each economy drafted tailored programmes including overall 29 actions that can be clustered as follows:

  1. capacity building and technical assistance in policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation,
  2. support for participation in EU programmes,
  3. specific support to universities and technology transfer activities,
  4. specific support to the business sector, and
  5. general training sessions for quadruple helix actors in the area of circular economy, blue growth and healthy society reaching policy makers, academics, businesses, municipalities, research managers, civil society, etc.

In October 2022, the capacity building work programme has been launched. For more information, read this interview on the WB Info Hub or visit the subpages of the WB economies:

Capacity Building in Albania

Capacity Building in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Capacity Building in Kosovo*

Capacity Building in Montenegro

Capacity Building in North Macedonia

Capacity Building in Serbia

Background and process of designing capacity-building activities

The guidelines mentioned above specified the following process to be followed by project partners: 1) definition, 2) implementation, 3) review/learning.

Phase 1: Definition

The basis for the definition of the respective capacity-building work programmes were the strategic documents at the regional level and at the level of the territory. The following steps were outlined to be taken:

  1. Analysis of the WB Agenda and selection of thematic priorities that are of highest importance for each WB economy.
  2. Establishment of the correlation between the WB Agenda and already existing strategic documents in the respective WB economy to draw up a picture of the strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Identification of topics for capacity building based on the priorities that are of highest importance for each WB economy, building on the strengths and addressing weaknesses.
  4. Consultation and revision of the topics in discussion with stakeholders.
  5. Drafting of concrete activities.
  6. Confirmation of the suggestion through stakeholder consultation and submission to the leader of the capacity-building work programme.

Phase 2: Implementation

In this phase, the activities described in the work programme were implemented in each task. The results of the implemented capacity-building activities (e.g., training documentations, presentations, minutes, etc.) were shared as open source as far as possible.

Phase 3: Review/learning

In the first 18-month period of the project, partners passed through phase 1 and phase 2 and started a first iteration of phase 3. In this phase, partners take stock of what has been done, what worked and what should be adapted for the next round of capacity building activities.

In fact, the definition of topics and actions went through the steps outlined above in each economy respectively:

  1. Desk research, analysis of the WB Agenda, national strategies and policies and proposal of concrete goals and measures. The aim of these activities was to analyse the existing strategic documents at the national and regional level in order to identify the key challenges and objectives in each WB economy.
  2. Co-creation, dialogue with policy stakeholders. This activity (see step 4 above) involved numerous consultations and focus groups with important stakeholders from relevant ministries and other institutions that are in charge of implementing the WB Agenda and strategies at the national level.
  3. Selection of main topics and actions based on the previous two steps. A detailed description of each action started with the analysis of the current state-of-play in the area, related strengths and weaknesses, stakeholders and potential target group for the capacity-building actions.
  4. Drafting work programmes based on a template for concrete actions. This final step comprised of the detailed description of each action, including the title of the action as well as providing other information designed according to the principle: what; who; for and with whom; how; when; where; how much; why; monitoring and learning framework sustainability.

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