SNV has ushered in a new era of development in the Balkans, with the announcement of its demerger to create new local capacity building organisation Connecting Natural Values and People.
Connecting Natural Values and People (CNVP) will be led by Executive Director Peter Kampen and will focus its operations on the improvement of Balkan forests and the livelihoods of the people who live in them.
The announcement was made at a ceremony in Tirana on July 12, celebrating the planned withdrawal of SNV from the Balkan region. Active in the Balkans since 1993, SNV currently operates programmes in Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.
Set against the background of national transformation and EU accession agendas, SNV’s work in the region has included a wide range of initiatives, from building government capacity in basic services and economic enablement, to development of agricultural value chains, forest management and promotion of pro-poor tourism.
SNV has worked in partnership with national governments in the Balkans, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands and funders including Sida, Danida, the World Bank, the European Commission and UN Women.
Speaking at the Tirana ceremony, SNV CEO Allert van den Ham cited SNV’s work in the forestry sector as one of its greatest successes in the region. From working with an initial five forest user associations in Albania, the organisation now supports 268 associations in the country, with similar scale operations in Kosovo and Macedonia.
“This scaling can only be described as viral, and happened because we engaged and harnessed popular enthusiasm for change,” Mr. van den Ham said. “It is this story that provides the basis for our new venture in the Balkans – CNVP.”
SNV’s planned withdrawal from the Balkans comes as part of wider restructuring within the organisation, including a renewed focus on Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“We feel that the Balkans now has more opportunity than other parts of the world and that the region is fast becoming harmonised with the EU,” Mr. van den Ham said. “Such is not the case for Africa, much of Latin America and Asia, and SNV feels that it must retain its focus in these places where desperation and poverty take on dimensions that most of the Balkans now does not see.”
SNV will now close its Balkan regional office in August, with its country programmes to continue until the completion of all projects in the region between late 2012 and mid 2013.