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A Call for a Convention for Economic Growth and Prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021-2040

January 22, 2021

A Call for a Convention for Economic Growth and Prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021-2040

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has failed to seize the opportunity to accelerate the transformation of the country through further reform.

The consequences of long-term stagnation are all too real; even before the pandemic, which will leave a legacy of high debt, displaced workers, growing inequality, and lost trust, the reality of life for far too many of BiH’s citizens was already one of poverty, unemployment, low pay or pensions, lack of opportunity and corruption, leading many of them to emigrate in search of a better life. For the country as a whole, this has put it on a trajectory of demographic, social and economic ill health that can no longer be ignored.

So, under the shadow of the greatest global crisis of our lifetimes, BiH citizens and its elected government advance into 2021 facing a stark choice; to continue doing things the same way and predictably getting the same results, or breaking the cycle with a different approach that delivers the growth and prosperity that is so naturally yearned for in every corner of the country. A new long-term vision for the country must also be forged that secures a balanced and resilient economy. It must also meet the challenges of climate change and harness digital and technological advancements that will shape the economy of the future.

Here at Pi Consulting, we firmly believe that if unity of purpose is intertwined with unity of approach, an effective movement for economic growth and prosperity - that brings together government, citizens, business, academia and the media amongst many others – can deliver meaningful reform results over the short to long-term, to the benefit of all, as well as steering BiH’s economy to evolve in line with European Union and global developments. We also believe that an ambitious and inclusive initiative of this kind could be transformative by offering a much-needed opportunity to reconnect the country, reinstalling a sense of vision of the country’s future, but also forging a domestic surge capacity that advances meaningful reforms from inception through to implementation.

This is an outline of our proposal for how such a new approach could work. Please let us know what you think, including the specific issues and reforms an initiative of this kind should focus on over the short, medium and long-term.

If a new initiative can be launched without lengthy delay, and it is advanced over the long term, 2021 could yet be recorded by history as the year BiH and its citizens decided to come together to deliver the economic growth and prosperity that is unequivocally in the interests of all.

Twitter: @pi_bih
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January 22, 2021

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  2. 2 Snapshot of Where We Are Now Citizens increasingly understand

    the need for the country to reform. Meaningful critiques have so far been mostly limited to small circles of independent progressive minds, external to, and ignored by, policy/decision making circles. The narrative needs to shift decisively to a broad-based, and participatory design of measures to restructure and modernize BiH’s economy and to improve living standards: a focus is now needed on higher value-added growth, jobs, health, well-being, education, food security and resilience, etc. Clearly there is an urgent need to; i) ensure citizens interests are prioritised; ii) give “voice and structure” to the opinions, concerns and proposals of progressive actors; ii) build ”an effective constituency for reform”.
  3. 3 Why is a New Initiative Needed? 1. To redefine

    the 'fundamentals' of BiH’s economy Ø Complete the economic transition which started 25 years ago Ø Put BiH firmly on the “Next Generation EU” train Ø Facilitate growth and improve living standards through meaningful reforms Ø Close the income gap between the EU average and BiH 2. To empower new and progressive advocates of reform to break the deadlock Ø Provide a unique, inclusive and public platform for different voices Ø Forge a legitimate constituency to advocate for change Ø Give citizens and other stakeholders a tool to shape their own future
  4. 4 Key Take Away: It’s Time for a New Approach

    üA conventional approach/thinking is failing to change the dynamics in BiH – it is time to think “outside the box” and try something new üLaunch “A Convention for Economic Growth and Prosperity in BiH 2021-2040” üThe Convention's idea draws on: - relevant experiences from the EU Convention process (as per Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty) - lessons learned from the 2019 Conference on the Future of Europe
  5. 5 Main Objectives of the Initiative A BROAD, INCLUSIVE, AND

    PARTICIPATORY PUBLIC DIALOGUE AND DEBATE ACCELERATED ECONOMIC GROWTH EU INTEGRATION ADVANCEMENT SENSE OF VISION ACCELERATED ECONOMIC GROWTH SENSE OF VISION RESILIENT AND EFFECTIVE CONSTITUENCY FOR REFORM 2021-2040 ECONOMIC STRATEGY EU INTEGRATION ADVANCEMENT Instill a renewed sense of vision into the economic reform process Build a resilient and effective country-wide constituency for reform by getting citizens and other stakeholders involved in a wide-ranging debate on BiH’s future in the coming decade and beyond, including how to address post COVID-19 challenges and opportunities Promote an EU compliant 2021-2040 economic strategy for BiH through a participatory, informed, comprehensive and well-articulated process, involving a variety of actors and a transparent deliberative process Contribute to efforts to accelerate and deepen economic reforms over the short, medium and long-term to restructure BiH’s economy so that it delivers meaningful economic growth and prosperity. Unblock delivery of (short-term) EU integration requirements to enable BiH to become an EU candidate country as soon as possible RESILIENT AND EFFECTIVE CONSTITUENCY FOR REFORM 2021-2040 ECONOMIC STRATEGY
  6. 6 Short Term Outputs/Measuring Success 1. A Convention Declaration ØShould

    be adopted in the form of a binding agreement between citizens, social actors, other stakeholders, and the authorities 2. A Contract for Economic Growth and Development 2021-2040 ØShould set out a shared vision, as well as proposals for growth and development. There should also be commitments to implement, including clearly defined means and a timetable 3. Unlock and advance short term reforms
  7. 7 Constituencies/Participants Citizens NGOs Academia Independent Experts Government Institutions Mayors

    Diaspora Business Community Credible Potential Investors International Community
  8. 8 Structure of the Convention § Convention Plenary: Convenes in

    plenary for key stages of the process § Chairman and Steering Board: Guides all aspects of the initiative, defines four major themes: governance, policies, actors, external environment (constraints and opportunities) and leads the drafting and reporting processes § Secretariat: Including PR/strategic communication; serves as portal/organiser of contributions and expertise (local and international when relevant) § Public Thematic Groups/Forums with Chairs: Advance discussions/consults/prepares proposals/initiatives in specific thematic areas
  9. 9 Indicative Timeline of Phase 1 (to end 2021) JAN

    2021-MARCH 2021 MARCH 2021 MAY-NOV 2021 DEC 2021 APRIL-MAY 2021 Develop detailed proposal/ Initial identification of main actors/Testing of feasibility Consultations on draft proposal/Careful selection of participants and leadership positions Preparation of Launch Event/Launch Event/ Convention convenes/ Declaration in place Thematic groups/Forums produce outputs/Numerous public events/ Consultations/opportunities to lobby for specific reforms to be adopted/Drafting of relevant documents Convention reconvenes to present “Contract for Growth and Development 2021-2040”
  10. 10 Conclusion: Key Points • A new approach is long

    overdue. It is time for a renewed grand vision and fresh ambition. • Economic growth and prosperity is the cause around which citizens and progressive forces across the country can most easily coalesce. • With proper planning and sufficient commitment, an initiative of this kind could lead to meaningful change and to the type of progress that BiH has to deliver if it is advance through the EU accession process. • If successful, the initiative could open up space for wider reforms.