The origins of the Balkan Network for Local Democracy (BNLD) should be traced to the initiative of the Council of Europe for the creation of Local Democracy Agencies (LDA) as independent civil society organizations operating at local level across the Balkans and ALDA as their umbrella organisation with the mission to enhance their regional cooperation.
Since their founding, LDAs established in the Western Balkan countries share an uninterrupted history of promoting European values of local democracy, good governance, and respect for human and minority rights in local multi-ethnic communities. Valuable expertise in these topics combined with civil society development practice have been accumulated over the past decades through collaborative designing and implementation of specific actions at local, national, cross-border and regional level. LDAs have demonstrated both a dedication to working closely with the host city authorities and with diverse local stakeholders on one side, and a strong allegiance to building inter-municipal, cross-border and regional co-operation network on the other side.
After extensive work for more than two decades, back in 2010, LDAs and ALDA recognized the need for closer and more structured joint thematic regional cooperation on common issues identified within the countries of the Western Balkans. Creation of the Balkan Network for Local Democracy is the expression of maturity of LDAs and ALDA who have demonstrated a substantial local expertise, and a firm commitment to elevating their operational/organisational capacity at a new level of functioning.
By the end of 2014, the European Union recognized our efforts and supported our 4 year-long project “Balkan Regional Platform for Youth Participation and Dialogue”. It is through this project that the Balkan Network for Local Democracy (BNLD) has been created.
From 2015 and on, the LDAs and ALDA have been fully focusing on regional initiatives while at the same time building up the idea to officially establish a network that would promote local democracy and regional cooperation in Western Balkans. This extensive collaboration resulted with official registration of the Balkan Network for Local Democracy BNLD in Skopje, North Macedonia in 2019.