The Western Balkan Digital Summit 2023 took place in Sarajevo on October 4th and 5th, marking a significant milestone in the region’s digital evolution. What marked the event was the active participation of the NALAS and KDZ in two of the main sessions. 

Members of the Digitalization Working Group of NALAS also met during the summit that stimulated depth discussion on digitalization and insightful conversations on role of LG in digitalization, role of associations and advancement of smart cities.

The summit took place at the Parliament in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, over two days – the 4th and 5th of October.

The first day of the sixth Western Balkan Digital Summit focused on a range of topics including digital connectivity, the 5G network, digital economy in the regional market, and cybersecurity. Key moments included the grand opening ceremony and discussions about the transformative role of digitalization in the Western Balkan region.

On the second day, the focus shifted to digital innovation in the public sector. The panel titled “Re-thinking Cities – Smart, Inclusive, Green” was led by NALAS and provided a key opportunity to discuss Smart City development. As a key note, Jana Belcheva from NALAS who also moderated the panel presented recent study on Digitalization in WB6 and Moldova: “Empowering Progress by Digital Transition in Western Balkan and Moldova Local Governments” developed by NALAS and KDZ.

This session offered insights and local-level perspectives on smart, inclusive, and green cities. Panelists of the session were: Mr. Erion Isai, Mayor of Kolonja, Albania and Mr. Srđan Mandić, Mayors of Centar Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina who have presented their activities in sustainable development using innovative solutions; Ms. Violeta Jovanovic BFC Network, Director of NALED discussed importance of leveraging public-private partnerships and collaboration with businesses to drive sustainable urban development, stimulate economic growth, and address pressing urban challenges.

Ms. Sarah Barnekow from Swedish EPA presented the project implemented with UNICEF and its aims to achieve critical environmental and air quality objectives through collaboration with local governments in the Western Balkans. Her inputs discussed multilevel collaboration and alignment of activities on Air Quality, importance of data sharing and integration for improved decision making. Audience had a chance to listen on the new Bauhaus Award received by City of Podgorica and creation of public urban garden. Mr. Thomas Kunert from SAP discusses the data as a new gold, a key to unlock innovative solutions. He examined the concept of ‘data,’ and provided examples of how data has been applied in the context of rethinking cities.

KDZ and NALAS actively participated in the session that focused on digital skills in the public sector. Mr. Thomas Prorok from KDZ shared key inputs from the Digitalization Study, unveiling the Digitalization Maturity Including Opportunities, Practices and Potentials for building capacities and empowering local government in digitalization.

The Western Balkan Digital Summit 2023 served as a vital platform for shaping the digital future of the region. It was marked by insightful dialogues, knowledge exchange, and the sharing of success stories. NALAS’ active role in these discussions further underscored the organization’s commitment to enhancing digital transformation at the local level.

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