From February 21 – 23, 2012, the first Balkan Peer Exchange provided a space for 100 representatives of think tanks and advocacy organizations with established track records in policy relevant research to share good practices and to brainstorm innovative approaches to shared challenges.
The regional event, co-organized and supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, was directed at enhancing analysis and research-based advocacy in an era of open data through facilitating exchanges between a representative group of think tanks, advocacy organizations, and donors active in the Western Balkan region.
The Peer Exchange began with welcoming remarks by Hedvig Morvai-Horvat, Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, and Gordana Delic, BTD Director. Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Bulgaria, delivered the keynote address on challenges and opportunities for think tanks and advocacy organizations in the Western Balkans today. Thematic panels, in-depth debates, and workshops covered topics including freely accessing information; responding to abuse of state resources and promoting fiscal transparency; supporting government accountability; adopting quality standards for policy-relevant research; and defining the role of civil society organizations in the context of European integration.
The Peer Exchange was designed in response to three major trends in the region within which the participants operate: dysfunctional or broken policy processes characterized by a persistently low demand by policy makers for outsiders’ analysis and independent monitoring; the relatively modest capacity of think tank and advocacy organizations and a duplication of efforts to cover relevant topics at the national levels; and an emerging convergence in the work styles and practices of think tanks and accountability organizations.
The Balkan Peer Exchange was jointly organized and supported by Balkan Trust for Democracy, the European Fund for the Balkans, the Open Society Foundations’ Think Tank Fund and Human Rights Governance Grants Program, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Fund for an Open Society – Serbia.
Videos from live streams of event sessions are available on the Balkan Peer Exchange Website