Foreword by the Executive Director
Dear colleagues and partners,
The summer period has been a time of reflection on the past 3-year achievement and preparation of the new 2015-2017 mid-term Strategy. It was also busy preparation period for all activities taking place before closing, what has been one of the busiest and rich years for our network. At the end of August, our Board met in Montenegro to lay the ground for a new Strategy and the Executive Office was busy with preparation and submission of new 2-year phase for support for the Monitoring Matrix exercise under the IPA CSF funding. While presentation of the monitoring results under the Monitoring Matrix for Enabling Environment for CSDev has dominated the first half of 2014, the period ahead of us will be marked with exchange and advocacy actions and naturally, first concrete results of these efforts. I hope you enjoy keeping-up to date with our activities and useful information.
With best wishes,
Tanja Hafner Ademi
- BCSDN Become Associate Member of AGNA and Referral Partner of TrustLaw
Through a strategic focus of developing external partnerships, the network has become a member of the CIVICUS Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA), aiming to increase co-operation across national and regional boundaries, and a partner of the Thomson Reuters Foundation's TrustLaw Connect, a global pro bono legal service for CSOs and social enterprises. For accessing the free legal services as BCSDN members, contact Branka Juran at: email@example.com
- Tanja Hafner Ademi Appointed as the Executive Director for Another 3-year Term
The Board has performed a 360 degree evaluation of the Executive Director for the period 2012-2014. Based on successful evaluation and an interview, Tanja Hafner Ademi has been appointed the Executive Director of BCSDN on the Board corresponding session held on 2nd October. Ms Hafner-Ademi 3-year mandate will start on 8th October, 2014 and will last till 7th October, 2017. The Executive Director is expected to present her work programme at the next Board meeting in November.
- New Policy and Advocacy Officer Joined the EO
In August, the Executive Office team welcomed an additional Policy and Advocacy Officer. Ms. Jelena Mirkovic (Serbia) will be responsible for policy analysis and the organization's advocacy work mostly focusing on activities around the Monitoring Matrix. She has experience working in civil society and private sector in Serbia and Macedonia and has been collaborating with BSCDN on various projects so far.
- MAXCAP Expert Panel and Policy Briefing - 7-8 October, Georgia
As partner in the MAXCAP project
dealing with research on maximizing EU’s integration capacity, Tanja Hafner Ademi , acting Executive Director, will feature as a panelist at a the expert panel discussion on the role of maximizing conditionality in Enlargement countries and the role civil society can play in this process. The overall aim of the panel will be to examine the role of EU in the Neighborhood region and factors shaping its capacity to shape political and economic domestic change.
- Service Provision Study Visit – 22 -24 October, Ljubljana
Service provision (incl. social services) has been identified as one of the key issue areas needing attention in several countries and the study visit aims to expose BCSDN members to best practices found in Slovenia (hosted by CNVOS). During the study visit ministry and municipality public officials will explain how the system of the social programs was developed in Slovenia, what is the legal framework, what were the obstacles, what are the recent challenges, etc. From two CSOs, implementing social programs, participants will learn, how they face with the conditions, how the development of the concrete program is encourage and how they combine service provision and advocacy.
- Economic Value of CSOs Workshop – 3 -4 November, Belgrade
Organized by Civic Initiatives, the workshop will aim to train BCSDN members’ staff in Enlargement countries in collecting and analyzing date related to economic value of CSOs to establish levels of taxes being paid, size of its workforce, income structure, etc. The date to be collected in the course of 2015-2016 aim to get Governmental institutions to recognize the economic value of CSOs and design key strategies for economic and human resource sustainability of civil society. The research exercise to be performed as part of the Monitoring exercise will aim to gather and analyze via the country reports and a separate study.
- MAXCAP Conference- 21-22 November, Sarajevo
The conference titled “EU Integration and Minority Protection in the Western Balkans: mapping the way ahead” is part of the MAXCAP project and aims to assess the effectiveness of EU instruments and strategies for strengthening minority rights protection in the Western Balkans. Bringing together academics, civil society representatives and EU officials the event will investigate the integration capacity of enlargement tools, will take stock of existing initiatives, and will try to identify future agendas and priorities. The primary focus will be on ethnic and national minorities, and LGBT communities from across candidate and potential candidate states.
The Board meeting will discuss the draft Annual Report 2014 and Annual Plan of work for 2015. The main focus of the meeting will be on finalizing the Mid-term strategy 2015-2017 key actions as proposed on the strategic Board meeting held in August.
- 4th Board Meeting – 24-25 November, Skopje (date to be confirmed!)
...IN THE NETWORK
Strategic Board Meeting: From EU to National Impact
On 28-29 August, BCSDN Board met in Budva, Montenegro to reflect on the achievements in the 2012-2014 period as a basis for developing a new 3-year strategy for 2015-2017. While concluding that the network has achieved considerable results in influencing EC policy and financing in civil society issues in Enlargement countries, the discussion focused on how to use the existing leverage to induce change at national level in member countries.
Gearing Up for the 2014 Monitoring Exercise
This is the intense period for Monitoring Matrix activities. The 2014 Country MM Report covers the calendar year of 2014 and it is expected to be finalized by 30th November. The main change for the 2014 monitoring exercise
is that it will focus on 12 core standards each country team has to cover, while the rest of the standards will be monitored based on national partners’ needs assessment. Additionally, Working Group comprised from experts from BCSND members developed Master Questionnaire for survey, a tool that systematizes questions per MM areas and facilitates data gathering needs. Improvements regarding comparability of financial data are also announced for this year.
SBPPF Study Visit: Opportunity for Networking and Advocacy for the Grantees
After all 21 SBPPF grantees have published a policy output and publicly presented their findings in front of relevant stakeholders in the respective countries. BCSDN prepared a joint publication
, comprising all 21 papers on a range of topics related to EU integration processes. One of the project's final activities was the study visit organized on 1-3 October in Brussels, which gave selected grantees the opportunity to meet with relevant EP and Commission representatives as well as civil society peers and networks. To find out more about the specific meetings that took place, click here
Balkan CS Acquis 2nd Phase in Preparation after successful MTR Feedback and EC Closing Conference
BCSDN and its members and partners have submitted the second phase proposal for the IPA FPA project “Balkan Civil Society Acquis – Strengthening the Advocacy and Monitoring Potential and Capacities of CSOs” in the end of August. The closing conference took as a basis the Mid-term review (MTR) of the FPAs and discussed in the issues raised in the evaluation in order to maximize the input and the outcomes of these projects. The discussions were on sustainability, cooperation with other national organizations and networks and among the oFPAs, the role of the EC or TACSO in the actions as well as the role of the Governments. You can download the MTR and presentation here.
BCSDN Contributes to Two MAXCAP Research Studies
Within the MAXCAP project BCSDN EO has been contributing to two research studies coordinated by Leiden University and the London School of Economics. For the research aimed to map EU efforts to develop the rule of law and judicial independence in the Western Balkans, BCSDN conducted interviews with relevant civil society and media organizations in order to introduce the local context and the perspective of the civil society actors to the issue. For the research identifying national discourse on the topic of EU enlargement, BCSDN’s role was to gather the perceptions on the issue of EU enlargement from two EU candidate countries (Macedonia and Serbia) via organization of focus groups and individual face-to-face interviews. The aim of the study is to provide cues to policy makers for the perceptions on enlargement in old, new and potential member states for the purpose of finding common ground for future enlargements.
CRNVO 15-year Anniversary
In September this year CRNVO celebrated 15 years of work. CRNVO will continue its activities aimed towards supporting the development of active citizenship and civil society organizations and promoting greater multisectoral cooperation and involvement of citizens in policy development. In addition, CRNVO's Executive Director Ana Novakovic this July became the Deputy President of the Council for cooperation between Government and CSOs.
Civic Initiatives Resource Center Platform Launched
Civic Initiatives’ Resource Center for Development of Civil Society, which has been providing information and organizing trainings and mentorships for civil society organizations (CSO), individuals and institutions for eighteen years now, has launched an innovative web platform to promote and encourage civil society development. It can be accessed at the following link: razvoj.gradjanske.org.
CI Interactive Map Capturing CSOs Activity during the Flood Relief
Within the framework of the network Citizens for Serbia (#Udruzeni), CI have published an interactive map that provides direct access to the work of civil society in Serbia during relief activities, rehabilitation and reconstruction of buildings that have suffered flood damage. The map is the first public effort to systematize all the activities of civil society, but also to encourage national authorities to also report proactively and transparently.
CNVOS Analysis of Public Funding of Slovenian CSOs
CNVOS conducted the most extensive analysis of public financing of CSOs so far. From the State Treasury data of over 19 million public financial transactions in the last ten years, CNVOS extracted those transactions where the recipients were CSOs. examined the funding of CSOs by individual ministries and in all 212 municipalities separately, as well as the percentage of the pie of public funds that was received by CSOs with public benefit status.
LUPA Festival for CSOs organized in Ljubljana
More than 130 Slovenian civil society organizations presented themselves to the visitors of the LUPA festival, which took place in Ljubljana on 18 September. LUPA is devoted to the promotion of the Slovenian civil society sector, and increasing the awareness of the general public about the role and importance of NGOs and their achievements. During the festival, visitors attend numerous events, roundtables and workshops on various topics that directly affect CSOs, as well as discussions on broader social themes.
At the 5th Annual Forum held on 24-27 July in Llogara, Albania, “Green Sight, Castle2Castle” idea of the Albanian organization GO2 won in the Philanthropy for Green Ideas competition. This is the second award for this initiative that promotes biking tourism in the region of Shkodra, following the award received at the national competition "Green Ideas 2014" organized by Partners Albania. This regional annual event is organized by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in cooperation with partner foundations from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia.
The Department for Local Governance and Integrated Development of the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) organized the kickoff event of the “Monitoring and Assessment of the Decentralization Process in Albania” Project, on 25 July 2014 in Tirana. The event launched the project to relevant decentralization stakeholders in Albania, presenting and consulting the monitoring approach and methodology and ensuring a continuous commitment with public and civic decentralization constituents and interest groups.
On July 1st 2014, the Republic of Albania officially launched the 2nd National Action Plan 2014-2016. The process of drafting the Action Plan was coordinated by the Ministry of Innovation and Public Administration, as the OGP National Coordinator in Albania. The objective of training organized by IDM was to inform CSOs operating at local level on the Open Government Partnership, on the National Action Plan 2014-2016 as well as to strengthen their capacities to monitor its implementation and to advocate for new commitments.
MCMS's www.ogledalonavladata.mk refreshed and redesigned
Aiming to contribute towards increased public involvement in the law-making processes in Macedonia, the redesigned web-site www.ogledalonavladata.mk provides all necessary information regarding the process and deadlines for the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and to get engaged in commenting the draft-laws. It’s designed for the citizens and civil society organizations, on one side, and for ministries and civil servants responsible for the law-making processes on the other.
CPCD Small Grants Programme for CSOs
In July, CPCD implemented the Small Grants Program "Be the Change" which focuses on empowering citizens across the country, with an emphasis on civil society organizations and informal citizens groups, to act as real agents of change in the communities they live and work in, through active participation and cooperation with local authorities and companies. With this programme more than EUR 60.000 were allocated to 25 grantees.
...IN THE REGION
BCSDN's Monitoring Matrix was analyzed in a recent ICNL publication as one of the 8 main assessment tools that seek to measure civil society’s enabling environment, comparing these tools by objectives, methodologies, outputs, key dimensions and indicators, data sources, geographic scope and frequency of publication. The Global Trends in NGO Law is is an online periodical published by ICNL, synthesizing key legal developments affecting CSOs around the world.
First Draft National Strategy for Civil Society in Serbia Published for Discussion
The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has invited interested members of CSOs to participate in the consultative process of developing the National Strategy and Action Plan for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society in the period 2014-2018. Comments and suggestions on the first draft text of the Strategy, as well as suggestions regarding the activities and measures, can be given at the public consultations or sent through an online form.
USAID CSO Sustainability Index 2013 Reports Published
The USAID CSO Sustainability Index measures the sustainability of each country's CSO sector and enables users to track developments and identify trends in the CSO sector over time while allowing for cross-country and cross-region comparison. The results from the 2013 analysis were presented across the region. BCSDN's Board member Gjergji Vurmo contributed to the assessment on Albania.
DG ELARG/TACSO Traficlights & IPSOS reports Published
Following the Regional Conference in Tirana, in May 2014, that launched the CSF/CSO Guidelines as a key monitoring, reporting and programming EU orientation/streamlining document for matters related to the CSOs in the Western Balkans and Turkey, this September TACSO published the Conference report, the collected information for the Baseline in a form of countries’ Traffic lights and IPSOS countries’ reports.
Standards for Fundraising Finalized
SIGN Network of independent foundations in six Balkans countries has developed Standards for Fundraising - a set of principles with the intention to increase citizens’ trust and confidence in CSO’s activities. This document strives to set standards of practice for fundraising; spending of funds and reporting to donors based on agreed principles of transparency and accountability for CSOs wishing to mobilize local resources for activities related to the common good.