21/12/2023 | News

Final Conference of AI-NURECC PLUS

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AI-NURECC PLUS operated in the following fields: Sustainable Tourism, Cultural and Creative Industries, and Circular Economy. The AI-NURECC PLUS partners have joined their efforts to support the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Sea Region (EUSAIR) implementation, ensuring deep and broad territorial coverage while enhancing Regional and Local Authorities’ appropriation of the EUSAIR main objectives and opportunities in the EUSAIR cross-pillar topics: “Research and Innovation”, “SMEs Development”, and “Skills Development”.

Special attention was paid to Youth, also through initiatives addressed to training, sport, integration and social inclusion, tools that are expected to further encourage community sustainable development, cohesion and solidarity in the area.

Final Conference of AI-NURECC PLUS took place on November 30 at Thon Hotel EU in Brussels (Belgium). As an external expert representing the Western Balkan Region, Mr. Milan Stojanović, a WBAA Regional Board Member and the coordinator of the Adriatic Ionian Youth Network (AIYN), actively engaged in SESSION 1, focusing on Circular Economy and the UN Agenda 2030. During his participation, Mr. Stojanović offered insights into the youth's viewpoint regarding circular economy matters. He delineated the pivotal role of youth hailing from the Western Balkans and the broader Adriatic Ionian macroregion in steering the transition towards a circular economy: To reach sustainability, we must act immediately because time is running out. What emerges as the main, and most likely the only solution we have at our disposal are young people. So, the way how to include youth in the action plans, strategies and policy-making must be shortened. Because it is not about the action plans and strategies, it is about their implementation. It is about lifestyle change, raising awareness and how we as individuals can demand more from our governments and companies to provide us with sustainable products and services.

Then he added: “On the other hand, what we have on the ground is brain drain and lack of paid opportunities for young people which is the principal reason why young people are not motivated and leaving the region. This affects all the countries of the Adriatic-Ionian region, and especially the countries of the Western Balkans, and young people from rural areas. This negative practice must be stopped immediately because young people are our most valuable resource and future leaders and protagonists of innovations and change we want to see. So we need them, we need youth now and immediately. It is not an option anymore; it is an existential question for our region.”

Following this, Milan presented the outcomes of his research focusing on the 'Youth Perspective on Circular Economy in the Adriatic-Ionian Macro-region.' This comprehensive study involved over 60 youth organisations representatives from all 10 Adriatic-Ionian countries. Milan shared key insights gathered from this collaborative effort.

In conclusion, he unveiled plans for a heightened engagement of the Western Balkans Alumni Association in alignment with the EUSAIR strategy. Specifically, he emphasized the Association's intent to actively contribute to pivotal topics such as the transition towards a Circular Economy in the Western Balkan region.

Milan Stojanović

Novi Sad, Serbia, 20th December 2023