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Jahorina Agenda 2024: South Eastern Europe's agricultural and development policy breaks new ground

This year's Agricultural Policy Forum (APF) took place in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Jun 4-7, 2024. Over 120 representatives from politics, research, the private sector and civil society from 17 European countries took part to discuss future strategies and challenges for agricultural policy in South East Europe.

As every year, the APF was organized by the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG) of South Eastern Europe, with which IAK Agrar Consulting GmbH jointly conducts the Agricultural Policy Dialogue Germany – South East Europe (APD SEE), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The main topics of the APF included food sovereignty, the effects of climate change on agriculture and the demographic renewal of rural areas. Particular attention was paid to the adaptation of agriculture and forestry to climate change and the implementation of the EU Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.

The main resolutions and recommendations of the APF were formulated in the Jahorina Agenda 2024, named after the venue. These also point the way for the work of the APD SEE and its working groups and include the following points, among others:

  1. EU accession process: The progress made by some South East European countries in the EU accession process was recognized and the importance of ongoing support through relevant EU programmes such as IPARD was emphasized.
  2. Green Agenda for the Western Balkans: Despite some progress in implementation, further efforts to harmonize agricultural and environmental policies were called for. The APFcalled on the EU and international partners to increase their support for these initiatives.
  3. Climate change mitigation and adaptation: Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the region. There is an urgent need for action to adapt agricultural practices and develop national strategies.
  4. Sustainable and multifunctional forestry: The importance of sustainable forestry was emphasized, especially in terms of coping with the consequences of climate change and promoting agroforestry as a means of climate adaptation.
  5. Wine sector: The wine sector is an example of successful regional cooperation. New approaches to adapting to climate change, such as fungus-resistant grape varieties and Viti photovoltaics, were discussed.
  6. Youth and women in rural areas: Policies to promote generational renewal in rural areas and to strengthen the role of women in agriculture are urgently needed.
  7. Berlin Process: The Berlin Process emphasizes the importance of food, agriculture and forestry in the region. It aims to increase the visibility of efforts for food security, climate protection and rural renewal at the highest political level. The APF recommends a joint declaration by the Ministries of Agriculture of the Western Balkan countries with binding targets and a clear roadmap for the transformation of agricultural and food systems in the context of European integration and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. The national heads of state and government are called upon to support this declaration at the Berlin Process Summit. Economic and civil society partners should also expand their political efforts in this area.

The decisions of the Jahorina Agenda set new standards for agricultural and development policy in the region and strive for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient agricultural practices.

The forum ended with the decision to follow up on the outcomes and recommendations of the Jahorina Agenda 2024 at the 18th annual meeting of South East European Ministers of Agriculture in North Macedonia in September 2024.