Representatives of civil society organisations in Serbia discussed the European integration process, strategic planning, communication and advocacy strategies at a five-day event in Vrnjacka Banja.
A five-day master course recently attracted over 60 representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) supported through institutional grants under the Environmental Civil Society Support Programme for Serbia (CSOnnect), implemented by REC Serbia with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The training, which took place in Vrnjacka Banja between March 19 and 23, provided an opportunity for participants to exchange experiences and discuss current environmental protection challenges.
Through intensive workshops, presentations and discussions, activities being undertaken within Chapter 27 of the EU acquis (Environment) were presented to participants, who also had a chance to find out more about the skills required for planning project activities in order to achieve the best possible results and maximum visibility during this final year of the CSOnnect programme.
In the opening session of the course, participants were invited to talk to Srdjan Stankovic, advisor to the Ministry of Environmental Protection in charge of cooperation with civil society. He encouraged participants to get involved in the activities of the ministry, which envisages greater funding to support 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 EU environmental legislation.
State secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ivan Karic, presented the ministry's ongoing activities on the drafting of the negotiating position for Chapter 27, as well as plans for future work in this area. He explained that, in cooperation with numerous partners and stakeholders, a fourth draft negotiating position has been developed, containing some of the information prepared in the framework of the draft specific implementation plans. State Secretary Karic also talked about the next steps in the process, as the ministry expects the finalisation of the draft negotiating position by the end of April. The Negotiating Group 27 is due to submit the draft negotiating position to the European Commission by the end of June this year for informal consultations.
The workshops provided participants with specific knowledge on strategic planning, financial reporting, public advocacy and communication plans for the environmental topics they are dealing with, as well as on how to implement projects successfully and achieve planned goals. Several priority fields were identified that should have greater presence in public discourse in the coming period. The issue of gender equality in environmental projects was addressed, and participants gained a greater insight into the importance of gender equality, discovering how this dimension can improve project activities in relation to meeting the challenges of environmental protection. One full day of the Master Course was devoted to introducing models of financial sustainability for CSOs. In this context, Neven Marinovic of Smart Kolektiv talked about the sustainability of organisations through the development of social entrepreneurship and cooperation with businesses.
Another important topic discussed during the Master Course was how to improve the legal framework for environmental impact assesment and strategic environmental assessment. The topic was presented by Sabina Ivanovic. The course closed with a discussion led by Radmila Serovic, head of the Department for Waste Management at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which focused on the drafting of the National Waste Management Strategy and plans to improve the legal framework in the field of waste management.