The Sustainable Development Goals in Montenegro
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Montenegro:
29 June 2021
After 35 years, the nightmare of a legal limbo ends for a mother of 9 in Montenegro
The Radosavljevic-Dobrani are a Roma family of 11, who live in a dilapidated settlement in the northern town of Berane in Montenegro. Like many other Roma families in Montenegro, the family has no identity documents, which deprives them of basic human rights that all of us take for granted. After 35 years of life without any identity documents, Valentina Radosavljevic, finally received ID documents that will allow her to apply for a legal status in Montenegro. She will now be able to confer legal identity to her 9 children, find decent employment, go see a doctor or even open a bank account. Until today, I felt lost all my life. You have to understand that statelessness is like a family virus – you pass it down to your children and wearing a mask and washing hands does not help. I am very happy that this nightmare is over. Valentina Radosavljević Without sufficient proof of their identities, the family was trapped in a legal limbo. The situation was especially critical for the 9 children born in Montenegro, as they only had birth certificates and no citizenship. In the short time that children get to be children, statelessness can set in stone grave problems that will sentence them to a life of limited opportunities and discrimination. Stateless children live in a world in which their status profoundly affects their ability to learn, grow and fulfill their ambitions and dreams for the future. It is heart-warming for us to see that with UNHCR’s assistance the Radosavljevic family, and especially the children, will now be able to achieve a stable legal status. If our hopes for the future generation are to be achieved, then children of this generation must be a meaningful part of the present. Jean Yves Bouchardy, UNHCR Representative to Montenegro. “Not being recognized as a national of any country can create insurmountable barriers to healthcare, social care, jobs and stifles overall life prospects. Statelessness can often have devastating psychological toll not only for young people, but can also rip apart entire families, as it creates legal schism. The ID documents made a huge difference in their lives,“ Valentina says. “We are now one step closer to finally making our family official. My children will not have to beg anymore, and we will be able to receive social assistance. It may seem little to others, but to us this is life-changing”. UNHCR and its legal aid partner, the Civic Alliance, identified Valentina as a beneficiary of a novel form of support provided in cooperation with the Serbian Embassy in Montenegro since 2019. Without any identity documents, Valentina was unable to travel back home to Serbia and apply for ID card and passport. The Serbian Embassy issued an emergency travel certificate that allowed her to go back home, and with the logistical and administrative assistance from UNHCR, receive the identity documents from the Ministry of Interior of Serbia branch office. UNHCR’s work on ending statelessness in the country is one of the major pillars of the joint UN Montenegro programme on integrated social protection and employment - called Activate!, which is funded by the UN’s Joint SDG Fund. So far, 703 people, both formerly displaced and internally displaced and those at risk of statelessness, were provided support by UNHCR for legal status regularization under this programme, which aims to enhance the capacities of the social welfare system in Montenegro and support vulnerable people in accessing social protection and employment.
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12 April 2021
UN Common Country Analysis, Montenegro 2021
The Common Country Analysis (CCA) is an internal document of the United Nations system in Montenegro which aims to inform the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNDSCF). As an in-depth analysis of the situation in the country, the CCA looks at Montenegro’s key development challenges and root causes, and suggests concrete interventions for addressing them.
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18 August 2020
WHO partners with influential artistic group to fight COVID-19 in Montenegro
"Save others, stay healthy!" is the core message of the promotional video jointly produced by the WHO and The Books of Books - an influential artistic four-member group. The authentic, localized video aims to draw attention to the importance of wearing masks, regular hand hygiene and physical distance. “Coronavirus is possible to defeat only through change of habits and behavior. That’s why we partnered with The Books of Knjige who did an exceptional work in reminding people in their authentic and recognizable style about the importance of respecting the measures” Mina Brajović, Head of the WHO Office in Montenegro Brajović added that the broad partnership has been established with web and electronic media to publicize the video During almost three decades of work, the TBOK group has built a unique, authentic style in addressing social issues and dynamics. Member of the group Zoran Zonjo Marković, who directed the video, said that the group gladly joins initiatives aimed at bringing social change. “This is not our first time to partner with the United Nations System. This time it was even more challenging because, apparently, behavior is the key to defeating COVID-19. At the same time, the behavior is probably the hardest thing to change, and I believe that together with WHO we made one important step in tackling that challenge” Zonjo The latest effort of the World Health Organization is part of its continuous support for the national response to the COVID-19 epidemic in Montenegro.
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15 June 2021
Balkan bytes: How digital agri-entrepreneurship is changing a country
In March of 2021, a Montenegrin cow became the first known exemplar of the species – indeed, the first farm asset of any kind – to be bought with a virtual currency in the western Balkans. Comically but appropriately enough, she was named Bitkoinka. The animal went for 0.013 bitcoin, the equivalent of USD 1 600 at the time. In doing so, she achieved the kind of fame more commonly associated with the reality show stars that populate Montenegro’s TV screens. In her own country and across the western Balkans, conversations swirled about digital farming markets. That this happened – in an environment where a few short years ago, buying an animal was a matter of hear-it-on-the grapevine, pay-it-cash-in-hand – is largely down to one young man. A young man who had some stuff stolen and decided to transform his homeland. Cattle, country and video tape Marko Maraš is thirty-one. Gangly and loquacious, his blond hair gathered in a ponytail, he does not, by his own admission, conjure the average Montenegrin farmer. Nor is he, not really, though he has worked as a farm hand. To listen to him, a rural affinity was always there – but only latently till the mid-2010s. Marko was running a video equipment rental business in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, when his life changed. “I had USD 20 000 worth of equipment stolen,” he says. And that was that. In a heartbeat, things shifted; a calling stirred. Marko packed up and moved to South America. He volunteered on rural development projects in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, until he felt what he calls “the pull”. “Of patriotism,” he explains. He means the thoughtful, unshowy kind of patriotism: the kind that spots a national vulnerability and sets out to mend it. Independent only since 2006, Montenegro is historically old but politically new. It is one of the world’s smallest nations, both by expanse and population, with just over 600 000 people. Tall ranges plunge into the Adriatic coastline; alpine pastures look down on beaches and olive groves. Agriculture brings in only a few points of GDP. COVID-19 pandemic aside, tourism does the heavy lifting. Still: socially and emotionally, it resonates. Farmers number no more than 50 000. But one way or another, nearly a third of the workforce depends on rural jobs. As elsewhere in the region, part of Montenegro’s farmland was collectivised in the socialist era. Its return to private hands has dotted the nation with small family holdings: four of five cows is a good average for stockbreeding households. A rugged ethos runs through farming folk. Voluntary association is rare. The business of chickens On returning to his native land, Marko helped out on farms, either for free or in exchange for dinner. He also thought he might want to raise chickens. He had no rosy-eyed view of the life: with farming vocations rare, young people like himself were almost an extinct species in the countryside. Still, “the pull” was there: “I had this idea that I wanted to keep Montenegro’s mountains alive.” Where to buy chickens to start the business? There was scarce information on who might be selling any and little marketing support services. Poultry farming presented you with two options: you were either born into it, or you could forget about it. And those born into it in the last 30 years were far more likely to be working abroad. Plans changed once more. Chicken-rearing was out. Systemic intervention was in – albeit with a makeshift, bottom-up vibe. In 2017, Marko magicked up a classified ads site – what he calls a “Craigslist for the agri-crowd” – and called it seljak.me. Then he set about signing up suppliers. “I went about it in the most analogue way imaginable, driving the mountain roads, stopping over when I saw a couple of goats grazing, jumping out of the car and tackling the herdsman about digital entrepreneurship,” he chuckles. “I could see them checking me out with that look that said, who the heck is this guy and where did he spring from?" Seljak is Montenegrin for peasant. A derogatory label in principle, it has been fondly re-appropriated. Over time, the website grew into Montenegro’s first peer-to-peer agricultural market, allowing farmers to buy and sell inputs from seed potatoes to electric sprayers – or indeed, animals like Bitkoinka the cow. In late May 2021, seljak.me relaunched as a full-blown e-commerce and knowledge- sharing platform: it continues to offer near real-time customer service. Marko has only just begun paying himself, and not much at that. Making money was not the idea – but rather, birthing a form of social entrepreneurship that strengthens the countryside and consolidates a national community in the process. “Patriotism to me is about solidarity. Stitching a place together.” FAO and EBRD gets on side “Montenegro has the sea and the mountains, and such a diversity of traditional agri-food products,” says FAO agricultural economist Nina Coates. FAO, in conjunction with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is scaling up seljak.me as part of the two organizations’ COVID-19 response package. The partnership is strengthening short food supply chains and providing marketing and IT support. It is also signing up small producers and aggregating their offer to sell to hotels and retailers. Finally, as Montenegro negotiates to join the European Union, FAO is offering technical assistance to register informal farm operations and increase food safety compliance. From eccentric to celebrity Growing media coverage and grassroots plaudits have begun to open doors for Marko, in an atmosphere where, he says, scepticism is common. “I’m no longer in the box that says, ‘funny guy with crazy ideas’.” “He has a lot of those,” laughs FAO’s Coates. “Something like twelve a minute. Fires them off like a volcano. But I call them brilliant rather than crazy. Marko is changing the narrative for young farmers – and consumers.” One of the ideas would involve how to introduce blockchain to benefit farmers. Another would see farmers strike deals with mobile operators to fit cattle with affordable GPS trackers, a way to make herding less onerous and thus more attractive to young workers. The general buzz surrounding Marko and his partners excites Coates all the more as the pandemic has wiped out income from the tourism sector, adding pressure on Montenegro’s Seljak community to generate revenue domestically “So, you know,” Coates says with a grin, “let’s turn this lemon into digital lemonade. In Montenegro for now, but – who knows – wherever farming needs that touch of re-invention.” Learn more Website: FAO Investment Centre Website: FAO Country Profile: Montenegro Website: World Food Forum Innovation Lab Story: Keeping Montenegro’s flavours alive
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11 September 2020
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