Western Balkans Soil Partnership
The Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development (SWG RRD) is coordinating all activities.
Contact person for all inquiries regarding Western Balkans Soil Parternship:
Mr. Boban Ilic, Secretary General
Head Office/Secretariat of the SWG
Blvd. Goce Delcev 18,
Macedonian Radio Television Building, 12th floor Skopje, North Macedonia
Contact us: email@example.com
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia
The partnership is created to preserve, protect, and restore the soils in the Western Balkan region. This partnership aims to mobilize and involve thus unite all stakeholders and institutions in the region,
- to identify and restore degraded soils to improve productivity and the provision of ecosystem services; in particular, the role of soils to secure healthy and sufficient food, to contribute to social stability, water resources, protection of biodiversity, and adaptation to climate change
- to improve national/regional technical capacity, in particular, soil monitoring and advisory
- to enhance public awareness about the importance of soil while ensuring broad stakeholder involvement, to successfully implement soil-related actions related to the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans
Guiding principles for this partnership are received from the following initiatives:
- the ‘Green Agenda for Western Balkans’ (GAWB), building on the Sofia Declaration 2020, and the Action plan for the implementation of the GAWB Brdo pri Kranju 2021, addressing the challenges to safeguard healthy soils for the Balkan region
- the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) tackling land degradation
- the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), its revised World Soil Charter and the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable soil Management
- Develop a detailed, integrated, and scientific assessment of the soil degradation processes in Western Balkans and a set out a regional database of soil conservation practices and policy instruments for soil protection.
- Assess the institutional and scientific capacities of the Western Balkan countries for the implementation of the new Soil Strategy for 2030.
- Conduct regional meetings, and exchange best practices, in order to:
- harmonize guidelines and methods, measurements, soil protection indicators, and sustainable soil management practices;
- improve the quality and availability of data and information about the soil: collection, analysis, verification, reporting, monitoring, and integration with other disciplines;
- raise awareness in the area of soil protection and sustainable land use.
- Design and establish a regional soil platform for data storing and data sharing; ideally, a region-specific decision Support System (DSS) should become available based on the INSPIRE data specifications for the exchange of soil-related information so that regionspecific data are interoperable with neighbouring and other European soil data sets.
- Develop the database to support land degradation neutrality, including desertification risk (vulnerability).
- Establish the Western Balkans Soil Museum for wider dissemination and awareness of the importance of soils for the wellbeing of the society.
- Establishment of summer school for soil science students.
- Develop risk assessment practices (or guidelines) for contaminated sites
- Enforcement and strengthening of scientific work through joint application within various regional initiatives and projects calls
This partnership has been created with close ties to the Western Balkans pre-accession process, related to tight cultural and political connections. In the initial phase of this partnership, specific initiatives and projects target the Western Balkan countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
However, many soil-related topics are cross-border, thus extend geographically to neighbouring countries south of the Danube River, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Italy, thus fully embracing the South Eastern European cooperation. Various future implementation steps of this partnership will thus reach out to its neighbours, and the current scope and membership shall be inclusive and expandable.
Any interested party from the civil society, industry, practitioners, public authorities, scientific organisations are invited to join the partnership, as:
- member by registration
- observer or interested party
Any member or interest party will receive confirmation of membership by the Western Balkans Soil Partnership that will be part of the European and Global Soil Partnerships (GSP).
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on the status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
The Western Balkans Soil Partnership (WBSP) is governed by the WBSP Steering Committee (WBSP SC), which comprises representatives of the WBSP members, from each of the country/territory (member of the Regional Expert Advisory Working Group on soil) which are based on proposals by the ministerial partners. The WBSP SC has a mandate to develop and decide on the organisational structure and statutes of the WBSP, the work programme thereof, as well as to harmonise WBSP activities with the activities of the European Soil Partnership, and of other similar organisations. WBSP will also have an Advisory Board with five members with a function to advise WBSP SC on issues related to governance and other strategic activities.
A chair will be appointed by WBSP SC members.
A Secretariat of the WBSP will be established with the following roles:
- Communication management of members and interested partners
- Information collection and operation and updating of a web site
- Organization of meetings
- Overview of projects
- Monitoring and reporting
SWG RRD as an organization will embed the Secretariat within its structures in its headquarters in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Regular meetings of the steering and implementation body as well as other interested members and partners will collect experiences from implementation, and also discuss needs and requirements expressed by stakeholders. There is no fixed meeting schedule.
Under the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, the creation of a sub-regional soil partnership was foreseen. Mediated by the project “Agriculture Policy Dialog Germany – Western Balkan”, a regional expert advisory working group on soil management had been established, with background papers prepared, and a roadmap in discussion.
In November 2022 the Ministers of Agriculture from South Eastern Europe (SEE) and Heads of Delegation came together in Budva, Montenegro for the 16th Annual Working Meeting. During this meeting they signed the Communiqué/Memorandum of Understanding on Soil Partnership of the Western Balkan.