Improved network promotes exchange of ideas and best practices
The previous six years have given the [REC] Secretariat ample experience in managing a network of countries, first during BERCEN (Balkan Environmental Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement Network) and currently under ECENA (Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network for Accession). It is therefore time to look back and consolidate the lessons learned in order to provide a tool that third parties can use when faced with the challenges of creating and successfully managing a regional network aimed at increasing cooperation between beneficiaries.
The success of a network lies in constant communication and exchange of ideas and best practices. Each member should take initiative to provide feedback into the network, initiating a process of collaboration and contributing to the others' learning experience. One of the most important aspects of managing ECENA is to provide efficient and multiple channels of multi-layered, peer-to-peer communication. A communication strategy not only facilitates collaboration between ECENA staff and ensures availability of information on the state of play between ECENA and its member countries; it also spreads practices and know-how from external sources (e.g., IMPEL).
In this regard, the Secretariat has developed an array of tools for partners and beneficiaries. They are: the ECENA website, discussion board, Facebook presence, a 'Partners' working area (extranet), emailing list, newsletter, press releases and participation in conferences of other networks.
The ECENA website was overhauled in October 2009 and has since become the pièce de résistance of the organisation's communication strategy. It has centralised all of ECENA's publicly available information and documents in a user-friendly interface. Content is now updated as soon as information becomes available, and the eponymous web address is easier to remember. The site also includes a discussion board, where anyone can post and freely discuss issues related with ECENA and enforcement of environmental law.
The website is complemented by a page on the Facebook networking site. Website updates are immediately reflected on the Facebook page to reach the largest possible audience.
The 'Partners' working area is a restricted access platform designed by the REC that allows users to share all types of documents. It aims to complement the website by making non-public documents available to other network partners, such as draft laws. The Secretariat ensures that information is retained in a secure manner, and that the usernames and passwords are disseminated to all concerned.
The e-mailing list was initially conceived as a vehicle of communication between network coordinators in each beneficiary country. However, with personal channels between coordinators already established, the Secretariat is now looking at expanding the list to a wider audience, including ECENA partners and experts, and at all levels of state administration in beneficiary countries. This provides another quick way to advertise and spread the latest information within the network. Please write here if you would like to be added to the list.
The newsletter is a broader-in-scope digest focusing on six-month time frames. The first issue came out in October 2009, and it generally strives to give countries a chance to publish and share experiences regarding ECENA topics and environmental enforcement issues, while also tracking other developments. It also gives the Secretariat a chance to contribute more in-depth articles of latest Europe-wide developments relevant to the beneficiary countries.
Finally, press releases and conference participation in other networks aim primarily to make ECENA and its activities more visible to the outside. Participation in other events fulfils the function of creating synergies with similar networks, while benefiting from their consolidated products and providing a platform for ECENA members to learn, with EU member states, best practices and possible collaboration through joint actions/programmes. Press releases, on the occasion of national trainings, are published on ECENA's webpage with member input, and the Secretariat strongly encourages national entities to advertise locally on their own websites and local media.
For any information regarding the ECENA Communication Strategy, please contact Bruno Mesquita.