Balkan sub-regional Declaration - English
Founding declaration of the Balkan Regional Land Coalition of ILC and - in solidarity with traditional communities and protection of nature in Sinjajevina, Montenegro.
The International Land Coalition - ILC is the largest and most diverse coalition working on land rights in the world. It has more than 300 member organisations covering 84 countries and representing over 70 million people depending upon land - such as young men and women, rural communities, farmers and pastoralists. In the Balkans the members of ILC are the National Federation of Communal Forest and Pastures -NFCFPA- (Albania), Connecting Natural Values and People -CNVP- and the National Association of Private Owners -NAFPO- (Kosovo), and the Save Sinjajevina Civic Initiative -SaSi- (Montenegro).
With the aim of securing land rights for rural communities to protect the environment, promote resilient local food systems and strengthen democratic processes, ILC members met on 2nd of June in Kolašin, Montenegro.
This encounter has forged a cross-border cooperation network in the Balkans composed of ILC Balkan members and other organisations concerned with food security, governance of the commons, inequality, climate and biodiversity as a token of engagement in a long-term process of intraregional cooperation aimed at strengthening the rural population, with special focus on pastoralists and forest dwellers.
This regional event also outcomed with several specific commitments and engagements:
- Building trust and cooperation is the aim of this initiative within and beyond the ILC as a contribution to local democracy.
- The National Land Coalitions we lead in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro are aimed to secure people living out on forestry and pasture. We aim for national legislations that are giving back state land to forest and pasture traditional users and recognise local customary systems. We agree to reinforce local communities and promote their sustainable way of life.
- We promote landscape approach and joint management plans informed and participated by local communities.
- We recognize the role of Peoples Organizations as key players in the response to the Climate Change and the maintenance of the sustainable local food systems. We will work to facilitate their access to IPARD, rural development programs and Climate funding and bring the voices of local communities from the Balkans to the global debate.
- We recognise the dramatic impact of Climate change and we will contribute to sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem protection and restoration while advocating for conservation -including protected areas- with people and not without them.
- In promoting good governance we commit to produce data and call for accountability to improve democracy and reduce corruption. We contribute and actively participate in inclusive processes in the decision making over land.
- The youth in the Balkans are also at the crossroads of staying and defending local biodiversity and ecosystems versus migrating seeking better economic opportunities and services. We support young leadership in the region and promote regional youth to youth exchanges to preserve their roots for a prosperous future.
- We recognise the unequal access to opportunities for women and we aim to empower them through reinforcing their economic development and participation in decision-making processes.
Furthermore, the celebration of this founding event in Kolasin means a show of collective solidarity in the face of the military siege of the Sinjajevina region, one of the largest high altitude grassland regions in continental Europe, whose biodiversity and livelihoods have been threatened for several years by the Montenegrin government, and request to cancel the official decision of creating the military ground, along with a new one creating a natural protected area co-designed and co-governed by Sinjajevina’s local communities.
In this sense, the undersigned welcome the creation of this brand new regional network for the promotion and defence of land rights and biodiversity and, at the same time, urgently call for national and international intervention to protect Sinjajevina, adding our support to the international campaign "Save Sinjajevina", signed by more than 90 organisations from all over the world.
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