A study tour to the Czech Republic for representatives of Serbian civil society organisations (CSOs) currently implementing projects funded by grants awarded through the project Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organisations in Serbia (SENSE) took place from March 23 to 27, 2015. The visit was organised by the REC with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The study tour enabled CSOs from Serbia to exchange experiences with EU organisations and learn about their impact on decision making, how to establish dialogue with government bodies, and about various organisational functions (e.g. financing, human resources management, organisational structure, leadership, membership issues, engagement of volunteers, concrete actions and campaigns, and overcoming obstacles). The event also provided an excellent opportunity for both Serbian and Czech environmental organisations to establish personal connections with each other that could lead to fruitful cooperation and joint initiatives in future.
During the first day of the study tour, Serbian CSOs visited the Czech Ministry of Environment and talked with officials in charge of various sectors, such as finance, international projects and cooperation, nature protection and cooperation with civil society.
Serbian CSOs also met and connected with international environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the National Network of Healthy Cities, and People in Need, as well as with the most important national civil society organisations such as Green Circle (an association of 28 environmental NGOs), local partner organisations of the National Association of Nature Protectors, the public interest law organisation Frank Bold, and Ecological Institute Veronica.
Participants visited the VIA Foundation and the Partnership Foundation, two groups that support the work of NGOs.
Two excursions to protected areas (Cesky kras and Hady) were organised in order to demonstrate how Czech NGOs support the management of natural protected areas.
The SENSE project started in December 2012 and will run through October 2015.