Albania, like other countries in the Western Balkans, faces some difficult social and economic problems that do not have easy solutions. Finding solutions for these challenges takes research, creating ideas, testing new ways of doing things and promoting successful ideas to Governments. This is the work of policy think-tanks like the Social Contract Institute (SCI). They exist to find solutions and to help governments adopt policies which will improve society.

The Social Contract Institute was founded in 2015. Its director, Ms. Olda Ceta, says “Our goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all, because by improving policies we can improve human prosperity and meet human needs for education, health, housing and economic security.” 

The most important element of a successful policy think-tank is its people. They need to have the know-how to monitor and identify gaps and challenges in existing policies, and skills to transform the gaps into projects that will work and bring improvement. As well as these primary skills, the SCI staff also need to be able to raise funds and build partnerships in order to carry out its valuable work. Most funding is in the form of donations for specific projects, which means the SCI team needs to have skills in proposal writing, fundraising, and project management.

SCI gives special attention to building the knowledge and skills of staff. This has included participation in EU TACSO 3 capacity building events. Its team participated in the EU TACSO 3 event on Mainstreaming a Human Rights Based Approach and Gender Equality, in June 2021. They consider that this has helped to increase the quality of its project design and proposals, leading to the team winning more projects than ever.

Another EU TACSO 3 workshop, on legal mechanisms and tools to increase cooperation between CSOs and public authorities in March 2021 led the SCI team to consider how it could be more influential in public policy making. Since January 2022, SCI is now a partner CSO on five parliamentary committees[1] to which it provides expert knowledge and policy thinking on a range of topics, including gender equality, human rights, European integration, labour and social affairs, and education.

“An organisation like us, dedicated to promotion of political, economic, and social policies sees incredible support in exchange of practices, learning from others and constant trainings organized by EU TACSO 3, as these trainings are designed to meet our needs and reflect our reality. We benefited a lot from the regional experience, especially our colleagues because there is no school for training CSOs other than the exchanges.”

[1] i. Committee on Legal Affairs, Public Administration and Human Rights; ii. Commission for European Integration; iii. Committee on Foreign Policy; iv. Committee on Labour, Social Affairs and Health; and v. Commission for Education and Media.