By signing the institutional grant agreement under the Environmental Civil Society Support Programme for Serbia (CSOnnect), the Regional Environmental Center (REC) has entered the last year of implementation of this programme. During this year, 11 consortia consisting of a total of 64 civil society organizations from all over Serbia, will continue to implement the second part of institutional grants. Financial support to this project is provided by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the total fund assigned to the organizations as a follow-up of the institutional support amounts to 413,000 €.
During the opening speech, Ruza Radovic, the director of the REC Office in Serbia, emphasized the importance of the role of civil society in the current challenging momentum of the upcoming opening of the chapter 27 in accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union. She added that the overall goal of this project and Swedish support is to stregthen the civil society organizations in order to enable them to take the leading role in the environmental protection.
Ola Andersson from the Development Cooperation Section, Embassy of Sweden in Serbia, pointed out that Sweden supports Serbia's European integration through annually distributed funds that amount to 12 million €, while environmental protection is a priority field. As he explained, civil society plays an important role, closely monitoring the progress of Serbia in the field of environmental protection, as well as the role as a partner in the dialogue with the EU.
Adviser to the Minister of Environmental Protection in charge of cooperation with civil society, Srdjan Stankovic, noted that there is a good will of the state authorities for cooperation with civil society, however there is often a gap in communication yet to be overcome. In addition, he stated that his goal is to encourage the effective dialog on specific issues and problems, as well as on their concrete solutions, especially when it comes to the Chapter 27.
Through signed institutional grants, organizations’ programme activities will cover a wide range of topics in the field of environmental protection. The significant results are expected in the field of horizontal legislation, nature protection, climate change, waste and water resources management, agricultural waste management and civil protection. It is important to mention that granted organizations under the CSOnnect program operate and carry out their activities at all levels - local, regional and national.
The Regional Environmental Center implements this program with the aim to support and strengthen civil society organizations that have the potential to play a leading role in solving the key environmental challenges. Additionally, REC helps organizations in their efforts to contribute to the negotiation process within Chapter 27, but also to establish dialogue both with the institutions of the Republic of Serbia and the European Union.