Regional ‘Dialogue for the Future’ shows critical importance of social cohesion

Dialogue Platform, held simultaneously in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Podgorica, showcased two years of results within joint "Dialogue for the Future" initiative.

The two-day Regional Dialogue Platform, organized simultaneously in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Podgorica 26-27 April, showcased the results of initiatives implemented within the joint regional program "Dialogue for the Future: Improving Dialogue and Social Cohesion in and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia", which was implemented in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro with the support of the United Nations.

The event, which summarized the results of the two-year regional program and indicated possible directions for further development of the initiative, gathered participants from national institutions of the three countries, representatives of the United Nations, as well as representatives of numerous program participants - citizens, NGOs, youth associations, educational and other institutions, as well as the media. The regional platform presented a perfect opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons learned through cross-border cooperation, carried out through 19 dialogue platforms, 19 cross-border projects selected through seven Calls for Cross-Border Grants that have facilitated 43 partnerships, 40 local projects of adolescents and youth in 33 municipalities, with a reach of more than 5,000 direct beneficiaries.

Your region has been characterised by a diverse history, ranging from conflict to peace, but it is in your hands to create the region’s journey going forward. This is both a great responsibility but also an opportunity, and the United Nations stands ready to support you with this mission. As we look to recover better together from COVID-19 by strengthening peace, mutual understanding and trust, youth must not just be a target of action but a central part of the plan and decision-making.”, stressed Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

“In this time of global crisis, we see how important it is to maintain social ties. Trust in people and institutions, respect for social rules, civic participation and volunteerism and solidarity were instrumental in responding to the pandemic. Inclusive and resilient institutions are essential to sustainable development and peaceful societies. When societies have channels for dialogue, cooperation and interaction, efforts to promote hatred and highlight differences have no breeding ground. Building social cohesion strengthens the resilience of states and societies as they change and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. I am pleased to know that, through this Joint Programme, we have played a role in achieving this,” said dr. Ingrid Macdonald, UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since the Programme’s launch in January 2019, 1,230 adolescents and young people have been trained in socioemotional skills, advocacy, leadership, teamwork, mobile journalism, public policy processes, media and information literacy, 221 girls and women have been empowered for social activism through educational seminars on leadership, gender equality, social cohesion, 490 teachers and librarians were trained to teach media and information literacy and civic education, 108 journalists and editors on lectures on media and information literacy, objective and fair reporting.

It is our great pleasure to have the opportunity today to showcase the activities of our Programme, a joint one for BiH, Serbia and Montenegro. Over the past two years, UN agencies, UNDP, UNICEF and UNESCO in all three countries have worked closely with institutional partners, presidencies and ministries. At the very start of this initiative, nearly 1,500 representatives of civil society, educational institutions, media, young activists, and private sector met to identify priorities for social cohesion and suggest ways how to address these. Working together for the benefit of local communities has been at the heart of the Dialogue for the Future programme from the day one and will continue to steer the UN’s future work with all its partners. I am convinced that we will continue, both in BiH and in other countries of the Western Balkans, to build on the results of cross-border cooperation and partnerships,” noted Steliana Nedera, UNDP Resident Representative in BiH.

The Programme has also delivered a number of innovations that will help end users in the form of an innovative online platform for mentoring women, the media pact, and the Declaration on Media and Information Literacy and Social Cohesion.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 19,500 participated in programme activities through eight implemented projects: Territory of Culture, Art of Democracy – Theatre as Dialogue, Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Understanding, Education through Play, Cooperation and Culture for the Future, Green Western Balkans – Better Western Balkans, Empowering sight impaired women to combat violence, discrimination and gender inequality, Voices of Peace.

Thanks to the Dialogue for the Future Programme, and with all the projects within it, we felt genuine happiness and came to realise what it means to learn in an innovative and creative way. We met many children and young people from Serbia and Montenegro, and they also met young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had a special charm in all this cooperation. I am very proud and happy for all that we have achieved in these unfavourable conditions. The mental health of young people is very important, especially in the 21st century when many adversities occur; thanks to those working with young people and all these projects, we have managed to achieve something good and help ourselves and our community,” says Sajra Kustura, a member of the Children of Sarajevo Association and a participant in numerous DFF programme projects.

The joint regional program Dialogue for the Future: Promoting Dialogue and Social Cohesion in and between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia is implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and UNESCO and funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UN PBF).

Full event can be watched at the official "Dialogue for the Future" Facebook page.

UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Children’s Fund