A brief review of work history and partnerships

Co-PLAN, founded on the principles of collaborative planning, has been at the forefront of originating participatory planning as a cornerstone for urban good governance in Albania. Its journey began in Tirana, where it embarked on pioneering projects in areas like Bathore and Breglumas, establishing the first-ever pilot urban upgrading projects with a combined social physical approach. These initiatives marked a significant shift from focusing solely on peripheral informal settlements to gradually including formal neighborhoods and the city center. Central to Co-PLAN’s approach was the development of Neighborhood Development Agendas (NDAs), a strategic move aimed at fostering direct engagement with communities and local leaders to establish genuine democratic structures of community representation. Through these initiatives, Co-PLAN sought to address physical aspects of urban development and social issues, thereby fostering holistic improvement within communities. Co-PLAN emerged as a beacon of change in a society where planning had historically been met with skepticism due to past centralized planning failures. It introduced innovative concepts like Urban Forums to facilitate negotiation and partnership with local authorities, bridging the gap between communities and decision-makers. This approach facilitated a paradigm shift in urban governance processes, enabling more inclusive and participatory decision making. Co-PLAN’s impact extended beyond pilot projects and localized initiatives. It was pivotal in developing “Good Urban Governance” models in municipalities like Elbasan and Fier, challenging traditional planning paradigms and advocating for comprehensive urban planning approaches. Co-PLAN helped municipalities prioritize public interests and adopt sustainable development practices by promoting participatory strategic planning, capital investment, and land use planning.

In 2006, recognizing the need for a critical mass of expertise in urban development and governance, Co-PLAN contributed in establishing POLIS University. This higher education institution focused on disciplines related to city-making, urban planning, art design, and environmental studies, further solidifying Co-PLAN’s commitment to capacity-building and knowledge dissemination. Furthermore, Co-PLAN’s efforts expanded regionally by establishing the Western Balkan Network on Territorial Governance in 2018. This platform aimed to advance research and policy advocacy on territorial governance across Western Balkan countries, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange among regional stakeholders.

Over its 25-year journey, Co-PLAN has evolved into a multidimensional organization that engages in civil society strengthening, research and citizen science, consultancy and mentoring programs, and project coordination.

Over the years, Co-PLAN has implemented more than 200 projects ranging from 10,000 – 4,000,000 Euro, all implemented with the same dedication and accountability.

Partnerships constitute an organizational value and can be summarized as follows:

  • The partnership/ synergy with POLIS University

Co-PLAN is innately linked to POLIS University, having contributed to its establishment back in 2006. Though two different entities, Co-PLAN is contributing as part of the POLIS University Research and Development Institute, boosting expertise and research capabilities. Given the similarities in shared values and mission, Co-PLAN and POLIS University align their collaborative efforts in research and innovation, bringing new developments such as the recently opened “Professional School of Energy Efficiency” (with the support of a TEMPUS-funded project), the set-up of a dedicated energy efficiency laboratory within the POLISUniversity premises, etc.

  • Partnerships with Local Governments and Public Institutions

Co-PLAN has worked closely with local governments in the country and has witnessed and closely researched their structural transition towards consolidation into 61 units through territorial and administrative reform. Our partnership with municipalities nationwide builds on jointly implemented projects, capacity development programs, or support provided to municipalities through social responsibility practices. Co-PLAN has developed a sound collaboration with local government units in Albania and their associations (Association for Local Autonomy and Association of Qark Councils). Having developed a reputation as a reliable, professional, nonbiased organization that goes behind the day’s politics, Co-PLAN has grown to play an important consultative role for the government and international development agencies operating in Albania.

  • Partnerships with Local Governments and Public Institutions

Co-PLAN works closely with civil society organizations in partnership terms or on the institutional development of young organizations through dedicated projects such as ideAL, KINDLE Advocacy, LëvizAlbania, SPARKs, SAIL, etc.

  • Partnerships with donor organizations

Over the years, Co-PLAN has acquired significant experience with numerous Funding Agencies and institutions, e.g., the European Commission, the USAID, the World Bank, the Dutch Government, the Austrian Development Agency, SIDA, Swiss Development Cooperation, UNDP, GIZ, the Open SocietyFoundation, the Italian Government, and has successfully collaborated with them on many projects, suchas:

  • Regional Development Programme in Albania, phase III & IV (2017-2023), funded by SDC and ADA;
  • Green AL I & II, Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organizations (2020 – 2027), funded by SIDA;
  • EFFORT, Enhancing Facilities for a Future with an Optimal Resource and Energy Efficiency Trajectory (2023 – 2026), funded by EU Delegation, Albania;
  • GreenFORCE – Foster Research Excellence for Green Transition in the Western Balkans (2022 – 2025), funded by ERA/EU – Horizon2020, Co-PLAN is in the role of Lead Partner;
  • CROSS-REIS – CROSS Disciplinary Network for Research Excellence in Regenerative Economy Innovation Eco-Systems (2024-2028), funded by ERA/EU – Horizon2020, Co-PLAN is in the role of Project Partner;
  • Preparation of Local Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and Action Plans for the 6 Municipalities of Fieri Qark (2023-2024), funded through the UNDP RESEAL project;
  • ideal – Dialogue for inclusive, evidence-based policy development in Albania (2020-2023), funded by the EU Delegation, Albania;
  • EU4Municipalities – EU for Municipalities Grant Scheme (2021-2024), funded by EU Delegation in Albania;
  • SPARKs – Supporting Civic Activism and Advocacy Initiatives in Albania (2023), funded by US Embassy;
  • Better Employment Conditions for Seasonal Workers in Albania (2021-2023), funded by GIZ ORF MMS;
  • LëvizAlbania – Local Democracy Promotion Project (2014-2023), funded by SDC;
  • Planning and Local Governance Project in Albania (2012-2019), funded by USAID;
  • Development of the in West Balkan and Turkey: giving citizens a voice to influence the environmental process reforms for closer EU integration I, II & III (2012- 2017), funded by the EU;
  • Urban Partnership Program II (3 out of 4 components including Municipal Financial Self-Assessment, Urban Audit, Social Sustainability, and Citizen Engagement project), (2015 – 2020) funded by the World Bank.
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