Agricultural Policy Forum 2022 organized in Tirana, Albania

The Agricultural Policy Forum 2022 is successfully completed! This year, the event gathered more than 140 representatives of relevant institutions from 12 countries of the Western Balkans and beyond.

The 22nd Agricultural Policy Forum, “Agriculture and Rural Development in the context of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans: Overcoming the Impact of the Global Challenges”, hereafter referred to as the “Forum”, was held on 19 and 20 October 2022 in Tirana, Albania. The Forum placed a special focus on the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the Western Balkans (WBs) and the recommended policy actions towards mitigation, including enabling and stimulating organic agricultural production as well as sustainable wine production and finding respective markets for it, sustainable forest management, developing functional Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems, and Regional Soil Partnership in the Western Balkans. Rural youth received attention in the Forum due to its potential to be the major driver of sustainable rural development.

The Agricultural Policy Forum 2022 was held under the joint auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Albania and the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) in South-Eastern Europe.

The participants of the Agricultural Policy Forum 2022 highly appreciated the support provided by the convening institutions and organizations: European Commission (DG Agriculture and Rural Development), German Government (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture – BMEL, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development – BMZ and German Agency for International Cooperation – GIZ), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The Forum summarized the outcomes and recommendations from the four working groups dedicated to regional cooperation on legal harmonization in the wine sector, sustainable forest management in the Western Balkans, Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) and the role of youth in the rural development The Forum greatly appreciates the efforts of the EU and the countries/territories of the Western Balkans to accelerate the EU accession process of the region. It encourages the governments in the WBs and especially the ministries of agriculture to undertake all the necessary actions to respond to the challenges along the way. While focusing on immediate issues (food security, increased prices of agricultural inputs as a result of the high energy cost) the countries/territories are urged to stay on track with the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (GAWB).

Tirana Agenda 2022 summarizes the main outcomes of the Forum.



  • Impacts of climate change on agriculture and recommendations for adaptation measures in the Western Balkans
  • Agricultural policy developments in the Western Balkans
  • Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in the Western Balkans
  • Regional cooperation on legal harmonization and market development in the wine sector
  • Organic Agriculture in the Western Balkans
  • Towards the Regional Soil Partnership in the Western Balkans
  • The role of youth in the rural development in the Western Balkans


Working Groups


Working Group 1: Wine sector

Working Group 1: Regional cooperation on legal harmonization and market development in the wine sector

In the past year, the market situation has deteriorated dramatically, with high energy and fertilizer prices having a particularly severe impact on the agricultural sector in general. Therefore, efficient management of energy, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides remain important factors for sustainable development. In addition to these challenges the wine sector also copes with a scarce supply of glass bottles and other packaging materials. Further on, it is expected that the demand for wine will decrease. Therefore, the Forum confirms that further improving the competitiveness of producers and reduction of the environmental impact of the wineries should continue to be among the highest priorities for the WBs. For example, new fungus resistant grape varieties are available on the market and can help reduce the use of pesticides by up to 80 % in humid climate conditions. Promotion and information campaigns are needed to make the wine sector more attractive for young producers and make consumers aware of wine as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet. The wine sector continues to aim at high-quality wine and access to research, innovation and knowledge will encourage wineries to improve the quality of their grape and wine production. However, if the market situation is to become worse in 2023, specific tailor-made measures might be needed to support small producers in particular.

Presentations from the Working Group 1:











Working Group 2: Sustainable Forest Management

Working Group 2: Sustainable Forest Management in the Western Balkans

Climate change presents a significant potential risk in achieving sustainable forest management. Following the EU Forest Strategy, Forest Europe principles and other international commitments, the Forum recognized the importance of multifunctional forest management as an approach to fulfilling economical, ecological and social needs of the society in Western Balkan countries/territories. Close to Nature Forest Management has been proposed as the main concept for improving conservation value and climate-resilient multifunctional managed forest, but the implementation of this concept is in the initial phase in the WB region. Creating a regional platform for strengthening long-term cooperation and exchange of best praxis in the region could serve as effective tools towards creating vital and resilient forest ecosystems that can stand over climate change risks.

Presentations from the Working Group 2:










Working Group 3: AKIS

Working Group 3: Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems in the Western Balkans

Regional Expert Advisory Working Group on AKIS was established in 2019 to assess and enhance research, innovation and technology transfer capacity in the agri-food sector in the Western Balkans (JRC, DG AGRI, WeCR). It was consolidated in Sep 2021 as part of the Agricultural Policy Dialogue Germany-Western Balkans to:

  1. Represent an “AKIS” knowledge and innovation transfer network, which brings together governments, academia, research, private sector, advisory services.
  2. Develop on regional and six national policy strategic plans aiming at fostering knowledge and innovation transfer in defined topic areas.
  3. Develop at least five virtual further education and communication measures for scaling up technical innovations and innovative business models.

The APF Forum calls public authorities of the Western Balkans to enable functional and integrated Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) in the region. This would be a long-term process that could be achieved gradually through steps that focus on the transfer of knowledge pertinent to addressing the impact of the global challenges of food security and climate change. National AKIS action plans should be adopted, leading to enhancing existing and creating new structures and forms of networking, capacity building and knowledge exchange of all actors in the agri-food system. The level of awareness of farmers should be raised on the benefits of the use of knowledge, technology and innovation. Use of all financing mechanisms, including IPARD support for the knowledge – based measures, should be availed of as part of this process.

Presentations from the Working Group 3:











Working Group 4: Rural Youth

Working Group 4: The role of youth in the rural development in the Western Balkans

The Forum recognizes the importance and underutilized potential of the rural youth for development in rural areas. Massive rural outmigration has been occurring, especially among the rural youth population. In that context, the Forum strongly encourages the creation and implementation of policies that support rural youth to become more visible as agents of change in the agri-food systems as well as enhance their contribution to the sustainability of rural areas and rural development in the WBs.

Presentations from the Working Group 4:












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