The Beacon Project organized the first official kick-off event in Belgrade for its activities in the Western Balkans, which took place from February 21-22, 2019. The event gathered more than 47 participants including local stakeholders and international organizations. The conference was designed with the goal of bringing together civil society leaders from across the Western Balkans to identify key social vulnerabilities and build resilience against disinformation through national and regional responses. In particular, the conference introduced the Beacon Project, its activities across the Western Balkans and beyond, and engaged with stakeholders to craft necessary responses in the spirit of open dialogue.
The first day focused on presenting the Beacon Project and >versus< and discussing the state of disinformation in the region. The second day brought together 30 local participants from Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and BiH for a series of workshops discussing the gaps, challenges and actions to take on country and regional level in addressing disinformation.
The conference highlighted the imperative of tailoring responses to country or specific group levels, in addition to region-wide initiatives. The event was the Beacon Project’s first major event in the Western Balkans and created an opportunity for IRI to share its recently released Western Balkans poll. More importantly, the event was the starting point for regional action plans and provided the setting for organizations and individuals with similar interests, across the region to discuss shared issues and solutions.