First Forum of Local Self-Governments on the Green Agenda

Under the motto of “Unlocking the Future: Innovate, Eco-vate, Elevate,” the inaugural First Forum of Local Self-Governments on the Green Agenda took place on October 12 in Tirana, Albania. This momentous event, organized by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS), and Tirana Municipality, with the support of the European Union, marks the beginning of a structured regional dialogue between Local Self-Governments from the Western Balkans. The primary aim of this forum is to accelerate the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans at the local level.

The opening ceremony included Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General of the RCC, Mehmet Ergün Turan, President of NALAS and Mayor of Fatih, Istanbul, and Mathieu Mori, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Arbjan Mazniku, Minister for Local Government of Albania, Luigi Soreca, EU Ambassador to Albania. Their insightful remarks set the stage for engaging discussions and meaningful deliberations.

In the framework of the Berlin Process Summit to be organized in Tirana on 16 October 2023, the Regional Cooperation Council and NALAS in partnership with the Municipality of Tirana, the Ministry of State for Local Government Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Agency for Support of Local Self Government and the Association of Local Autonomy of Albania, and with the support of the EU funded ‘EU for Municipalities’ and ‘Municipalities for Europe’ projects, conduct a two-day conference in Tirana on 12-13 October, bringing mayors and local officials from the Western Balkans to Tirana to discuss and share good practices on green cities and the key role of local governments in the EU accession and Berlin processes.

The two-day event has started with the first Local Self-Governments Forum organised by the Regional Cooperation Council and NALAS, with the support of the Municipality of Tirana on 12 October, under the title of ‘Unlocking the Future: Innovate, Eco-vate, Elevate - Western Balkans Unite for Smart Cities’.

NALAS President & Mayor of Fatih, Mehmet Ergün Turan said the following in the opening speech of the forum:

“We are witnessing an extraordinary event in Tirana; because the two most relevant regional cooperation networks in the Balkans, namely the Regional Cooperation Council that connects central governments and NALAS that connects local governments through local government associations, have come together to discuss the Green Agenda.

As the Mayor of a historic municipality in Istanbul and the President of NALAS, I firmly believe that local governments play a crucial role in improving the quality of life for citizens. To achieve this, there needs to be coordination between national and regional strategies, central government policies, and the active participation of citizens. Local governments need sufficient resources and support from the central governments to execute their actions effectively. Citizens' involvement is also crucial in ensuring the success of these actions.

I am convinced that NALAS can play a vital role in realizing the development agenda and creating hope for prosperity throughout the South-East Europe. Therefore, it is time to join forces with NALAS to drive coordinated actions and improve the lives of citizens.”