Meeting the new challenges of the IV edition of the BFC SEE standard

At the beginning of March 2023 in Belgrade, within the framework of the project "Establishment of a platform for a favorable business environment in the Western Balkan region", and with the support of German development cooperation implemented by GIZ, NALED, in the capacity of the Regional Technical Secretariat, organized a two-day training for BFC representatives in its premises SEE Technical Secretariats from the region, in order to prepare in the best way for the future certification processes of cities and municipalities with a favorable business environment according to the latest IV edition of the international BFC SEE standard. This meeting was also an opportunity to once again consider the organizational capacities, strengthen the position and role of the Technical Secretariats and emphasize the importance of cooperation between all structures in the BFC SEE Program.

The training was attended by representatives of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro (PKCG) from Podgorica, Miljan Šestović and Marija Stanišić Čađenović, the Center for Local Economic Development of the Faculty of Economics in Rijeka (EFRI) from Rijeka, Josip Čičak, the Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of Srpska (PKRS) from Banja Luka, Olivera Radić and Svjetlana Kević Zrnić, Regional Development Agency for Herzegovina (REDAH) from Mostar, Himzo Tule, Institute for Development Research (RIINVEST) from Priština, Visar Vokrri, Saxhide Mustafa and Erisa Kallaba, Association of Local Government Units of the Republic of North Macedonia (ZELS) from Skopje, Ivan Mitevska and Irena Nikolov, and Association for Local Autonomy (ALAA) from Tirana, Adelina Faricci and Enkeleda Hysa.

On the first day of the training, after the opening speeches of the director of the Good Governance Department, Ana Ilić, and Bojan Vojvodić in front of GIZ, the participants had the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the results of the recently conducted research, which aimed to identify space and opportunities for further development BFC SEE Program and improving the position of all participants in it. In the survey, which included nearly 200 respondents from the region, in addition to representatives of the Technical Secretariats, licensed evaluators, representatives of certified cities and municipalities, as well as local self-governments who represent potential candidates for participation in the Program participated. Some of the more significant results indicate that close to 90% of respondents, including numerous local governments, find the BFC SEE Program attractive, and that almost 3/4 of those who have never been part of the BFC SEE Program believe that participating in it would be beneficial for them . As motives for participation, respondents most often mentioned attracting investments, improving the work of the administration, as well as recognition, promotion and image in the country and abroad. On the other hand, as the most significant benefits from participation in the BFC SEE Program, certified municipalities singled out greater networking and regional connection of BFC municipalities, recognition and promotion, as well as the possibility of participation in regional initiatives and projects.

The latest IV edition of the international BFC SEE standard was presented to the participants after the successfully completed revision process and six months of dedicated work in which more than 100 interlocutors and experts in the field of local economic development and standardization of municipal services were consulted. Dušan Petrović, a long-time consultant for the BFC SEE Program and a member of the BFC SEE Technical Committee that led the audit process, presented some of the advantages of the improved BFC SEE Program, as well as the latest criteria that will be applied throughout the region this year. In addition to certain methodological changes and additional benefits expected by all participants, special emphasis will be placed on innovations and good practices, as well as on the areas of environmental protection, circular economy and digitization, which for the first time will form part of the criteria on the basis of which success and progress will be measured municipalities and cities in the certification process.

Later, on the second day of the training, the long-time consultant at the BFC SEE Program, Jovica Damnjanović, presented the participants in detail with the most common challenges in the certification process, as well as novelties regarding the methodology that municipalities expect within the new certification cycle.

To meet the new certification processes and the regional race between the most successful cities and municipalities of Southeast Europe, which awaits us in 2023, the two-day meeting was officially concluded with an agreement on further activities on the project and the BFC SEE Program itself.

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