Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organisations (SECTOR) in Serbia

Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organisations (SECTOR) in Serbia

Source of funding

Government of Sweden

Name of client/donor

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Overall project value

EUR 694,108

Date

October 2009 – March 2011

Beneficiary countries

Serbia

Number of staff

8

The project strengthened the role of environmental CSOs by contributing to their development; improving their knowledge, skills, capacities and infrastructure; and encouraging them to take a more proactive role in decision making. It was based on earlier SECTOR programmes in South Eastern Europe funded by the Government of Sweden.

The main objective was to promote the development of a vibrant and democratic civil society in Serbia in order to positively influence society towards sustainable development and to improve quality of life in urban areas. Specific goals were to:

  • strengthen CSOs to promote positive environmental and societal changes through networking, lobbying, public participation and advocacy and by acting as a watchdog on government and industry;
  • build independent CSOs, develop their skills and improve their viability;
  • raise awareness in communities regarding existing conditions and possible solutions to environment-related problems (particularly waste, climate change, energy efficiency and health threats);
  • improve the capacities of environmental CSOs to meet the challenges of important international obligations and treaties and create a CSO platform for new responsibilities in the implementation of policies on climate change, waste and energy efficiency; and
  • enable actors in environmental civil society to provide information on, and build links between, the environment and development in other sectors, and between stakeholders, and to participate more effectively in environmental decision making at national and local level.

The SECTOR project in Serbia supported 11 CSO projects implemented by 31 CSOs grouped in 11 consortia. The projects ranged between EUR 28,000 and 35,000 and addressed the following issues: waste management (hazardous household waste, local waste management plans, public participation in policy development); water management; renewable energy sources; energy efficiency; sustainable consumption (green public procurement, phasing out of plastic bags and employment of people with disabilities); sustainable transport; urban planning; climate change; and environmental education.

The SECTOR project in Serbia was implemented in four main components:

  1. The project support component (grants), which supported 11 CSO projects.
  2. Capacity building, in the form of a two-module master class in Serbia and Sweden, which improved the skills and knowledge of CSOs (on legal recourse/advocacy; lobbying; watchdogging; public participation; and effective communication and public outreach). During the second master class module (a study tour to Sweden), Serbian CSOs had an opportunity to learn how Swedish organisations operate; exchange information with their Swedish counterparts; and gain inspiration from the work of Swedish CSOs.
  3. Consultations and networking, as part of which grantees organised consultation meetings in order to establish dialogue with decision makers. Topics addressed under the project support component were further elaborated, while dialogue between governmental and civil sector representatives contributed to better cooperation and also addressed the problem of a lack of confidence in the authorities and/or a lack of interest/motivation among CSOs to become involved in decision making.This has helped to improve public accountability and has contributed to decision makers' recognition of the need for civil society involvement in decision-making processes.
  4. The media component (capacity building and public outreach), which comprised trainings for journalists and editors in order to facilitate the dissemination of best practices, enhance the image of the civil sector, increase media coverage of environmental issues, and improve the visibility of the SECTOR programme as a whole. The SECTOR project in Serbia succeeded in creating a shift among CSOs to a new role as a more proactive player, advocating/lobbying for concrete and measurable policy changes. Out of the 11 supported projects, nine involved actions with a potential impact on policy development. In the process, CSOs identified target groups, engaged relevant actors in discussion, established a platform for dialogue with decision makers, and positioned themselves (by participating in work groups and teams for the development of local action plans, for example) as important actors in society, exercising their civil rights and exerting an influence in a democratic manner.
  • Awareness raising
  • Capacity building and training
  • Grants management
  • Networking