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Focus group on Sustainability and Sustainability Reporting held at the Faculty of Economics, University of Tirana

On April 3rd, 2024, the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tirana organized a focus group session to discuss the theme of sustainability in business operations. The main objective of this session was to gain a deeper understanding of sustainability aspects, including environmental, economic, and social dimensions, within the context of Albania. The discussions also revolved around the concept of circular economy activities and sustainability reporting practices, with a focus on existing practices and potential areas for improvement in the country.

The focus group session had a primary goal of gathering insights to help develop training programs that focus on encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship through innovation and upskilling. The session brought together a diverse group of participants, including environmental experts and entrepreneurs, to create a collaborative environment where ideas and best practices could be shared. The overall aim of the session was to enhance sustainable business practices in Albania.

During the discussions, the participants examined the impact of business operations on the environment. They considered how companies in Albania can align their practices with environmental standards and address the significant environmental challenges faced by the country. The focus of the discussion extended to the economic implications of sustainable practices, exploring the benefits that sustainable development can bring to businesses. Additionally, the participants proposed economic indicators to measure progress in this domain.

Social aspects of sustainability were considered, as well. The participants highlighted examples of socially responsible behavior exhibited by companies and identified areas where improvements could be made in Albania. The concept of circular economy activities was also discussed, with both the current implementation by selected companies and the potential application of such activities within the Albanian context being explored.

Participants discussed sustainability reporting practices and how companies in Albania approach them. The session aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of sustainable business practices and encourage participants to integrate innovative solutions into their entrepreneurial endeavors.

The focus group was designed to encourage collaboration among stakeholders, creating an environment where they could exchange ideas, identify areas for improvement, and align their strategies with stakeholder expectations. By promoting active participation and knowledge sharing, the sessions aimed to empower participants to enhance their sustainability performance, promote transparency, and accountability, and ultimately contribute to the long-term sustainability of businesses in Albania.

In conclusion, the focus group session served as a platform for exploring various dimensions of sustainability in business operations, with a particular focus on stimulating sustainable entrepreneurship through innovation and up-skilling. The insights gathered from this session will inform the design of training programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing sustainable business practices and driving positive change within the Albanian business landscape.

The attendees of the focus group session included:
– Alis Mustafa, who holds the position of Project Manager at Partners Albania and serves as the Manager of the DPI platform.
– Dorian Pashaj, serving as the Head of the Environment Management Unit at ProCredit Bank Albania.
– Emirjeta Adhami, fulfilling the role of Freshwater and Climate Change Officer at INCA.
– Besmira Bejleri, serving as the Project Finance, ESG, and Agrofinancing Senior Specialist at Raiffeisen Bank Albania.
– Erion Ndreçka, who holds the position of Corporate Social Responsibility & Communications Manager at BALFIN Group.
– Rakip Belishaku, the Founder of Rinora Handmade, a sustainable business specializing in natural soap and sponges derived from a cucumber-like plant.
– Dritan Nako, who serves as the Legal, CSR & External Relations Manager at Titan Cement Company SA.
– Additionally, staff members from the Faculty of Economy, University of Tirana were also present.