CSOnnect Master Course for representatives of civil society organizations held in Vrnjacka Banja

March 27, 2018

The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe - REC, Office in Serbia, organized a five-day Master Course for partner organizations supported through institutional grants under the Environmental Civil Society Support Programme for Serbia (CSOnnect), funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). This five-day training held in Vrnjacka Banja gathered more than 60 representatives of civil society organizations supported through this program, who exchanged their previous experiences and discussed the current environmental protection challenges.

During five days of intensive workshops, lectures and discussions, the activities undertaken within Chapter 27 (Environment) were presented to the participants in the Course. They also learned about the skills and ways of planning their specific project activities, in order to achieve results as good and visible as possible, up to the end of this year when the CSOnnect program ends.

During the opening sessions of the Master Course, the participants had the opportunity to talk to Srdjan Stankovic, the Adviser to the Minister of Environmental Protection in charge of cooperation with civil society. He encouraged the participants to be highly involved in the activities of the ministry, which envisaged greater funding for supporting civil society initiatives. In the following session, Sandra Sperlic from the Ministry of Environmental Protection presented the third revised National Programme for the Adoption of the EU Acquis (NPAA) and related plans for the transposition and implementation of the EU environmental legislation.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ivan Karic, presented the Ministry's ongoing activities being undertaken on the drafting of the negotiating position for Chapter 27, as well as plans for future work on this topic. As he emphasized, in cooperation with numerous partners and stakeholders, a fourth draft negotiating position that contains some of the information prepared in the framework of the Drafts of Specific Implementation Plans, was developed. The State Secretary also spoke about the next steps in this process - the Ministry expects the finalization of the Negotiating Position Draft by the end of April. The Negotiating Group 27 should submit the Negotiating Position Draft to the European Commission by the end of June this year for informal consultations.

Through workshops the participants gained specific knowledge on strategic planning, financial reporting, public advocacy and communication plans for the environmental topics they are dealing with, as well as the ways of successful implementation of their projects and achievement of the goals foreseen in the project activities. In addition, several priority fields that should be more present in public discourse in the coming period were identified. During the two Master course's sessions, the issue of gender equality in environmental projects was tackled and the participants deepened their knowledge on the importance of gender equality. They learned in which ways the existence of this dimension could improve their project activities and thus how to deal with the challenges of environmental protection. One full day of Master course was devoted to models of financial sustainability of civil society organizations. Additionally, Neven Marinovic from the “Smart Kolektiv”, was talking about the sustainability of organizations through the development of social entrepreneurship and cooperation with businesses.

Another important topic discussed in the Master Course was the improvement of the legal framework for the Environmental Impact Assesment and Strategic Environmental Assessment, presented by Sabina Ivanovic. Finally, the course was closed by a discussion with The Chief of the Department for Waste Management at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Radmila Serovic. The drafting of the National Waste Management Strategy and plans on how to improve the legal framework in the field of waste management, were mainly discussed.