Dialogue for the Future: Fostering Dialogue and Social Cohesion in, and between, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia

What is the Programme about?

The overall goal of the joint regional programme, Dialogue for the Future (DFF), is to help create more spaces for constructive dialogue between various communities, between citizens and their highest elected leaders, thus promoting peaceful coexistence, increased trust and genuine respect for diversity. This peacebuilding initiative was launched in 2014 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), following discussions between the United Nations Secretary-General and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2015, during the Brdo-Brijuni Summit in Budva, Montenegro, the leaders of the region recognized the DFF project implemented and encouraged its expansion into South East Europe. During the second phase of the BiH-focused project (2017-2019), the United Nations Country Teams in BiH, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia, worked with institutional and civil society stakeholders to design a joint regional programme that aims to:

  • support dialogue and collaborative action around jointly identified priorities;
  • empower adolescents and youth for constructive engagement and leadership;
  • nurture inter-cultural dialogue;
  • strengthen objective media reporting and positive storytelling;
  • and promote the social and political empowerment of young girls and women.

HOW?

Skill-Building. Adolescents (10-18 years) and youth (18-30 years) will benefit from targeted skill building for constructive participation in dialogue and decision-making processes; active contribution to, and leadership in, positive transformation of their communities; fighting negative stereotypes and recognizing the strength and richness of diversity. Learning events will have a strong gender component, contributing to gender equality and fighting gender stereotypes. Reaching out to inactive and marginalized adolescents and youth is a particular focus of the joint programme. Teachers and trainers in primary and secondary schools will be supported to enhance their skills in teaching media literacy, civic education and constructive inter-cultural dialogue. The joint programme also envisages work with journalists and editors to help amplify and broaden positive storytelling, while challenging biased and prejudiced reporting.

Dialogue Platforms. A series of participatory dialogue events will bring together adolescents and youth, civil society organizations, opinion makers and decision makers, to discuss, identify and agree on proposed actions that will strengthen social cohesion at the country and the regional level.

Small Grants Facility. Action on common priorities, identified and agreed at dialogue events, will be supported with grants. Civil society organizations, public institutions, media, local governments and schools will be invited to collaborate across borders and work toward solutions to commonly identified priorities. Through Innovation Labs, adolescent boys and girls will receive dedicated training and funds for collaboration on cross-country projects that address their specific concerns. At least 30 per cent of funding will support projects focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Policy Recommendations. Initiatives for policy improvements - identified and validated through dialogue events, as well as through social media tools such as U-Report - will be supported through thematic advocacy and public information campaigns. The goal is to advocate for institutional and political action that strengthens social cohesion in the region.