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The Albanian Network for Rural Development organized virtually two regional rural Forums which were previously suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic. The regional rural forums of Arbër and Vjosa were organized in June through the Zoom platform.

The Arbër Forum was the first forum held in digital format, on 17 and 18 June, with the participation of important actors of rural development from the Arbër region, namely the regions of Durrës, Tirana and Dibër. The forum was built as a combination of presentations of keynote speakers from national institutions, local government representatives, rural development contributors from civil society organizations and donors, academics and Local Action Groups ( LAGs) and LAG initiatives, successful entrepreneurs in the field, young people with innovative approaches to rural development, etc. The forum took place over two days with panel discussions, question sessions, comments and dynamic exchange between participants. During the Forum, the development challenges of the Arbër region as well as sectoral national and European regulatory framework were addressed through interventions that were further enriched with evidence, experiences and realities from the lives of agricultural and rural development actors in Albania, to finally conclude with analysis of expectations and conclusions on future trends.

Vjosa Forum, the third regional forum on the way to the II Rural Parliament, was also held on line. It took place on June 30, 2020, in two sessions with the participation of rural development actors from the Vjosa region, namely Vlora, Fier and Gjirokastra counties. In the forum contributed and shared their experiences important rural development actors from Vjosa region and beyond such as representatives from successful rural municipalities, senior representatives of IPARD Program and ARDA who gave presentations on the national and European sector policy framework, representatives from regional development (RD) institutions that brought information on the new RD legal framework, representatives of donors in the field of tourism resource development that shared their experience in the rural areas, mountain tourism entrepreneurs, representatives from academia and civil society who spoke about their activity in the field of agricultural research and environmental protection, activists and implementers of the Leader approach, beneficiaries of IPARD, etc.

The forums brought virtually together many representatives of public institutions and civil society, farmers’ associations and producer groups, young people, active citizens and others stakeholders interested in reflecting the needs, priorities and interests of local actors and rural communities in the Arbër and Vjosa regions. The forums developed a broad perspective of rural development in the respective regions, identifying actors, initiatives, processes, expectations, needs but also partnerships and resources, generating new synergies for boosting sustainable development in the regionsʼ rural communities.

The journey to the Rural Parliament II will continue further with the last forum – Rural Forum of the Egnatia Region- namely the regions of Korça, Elbasan, Berat, in July.