In order to promote urban sustainability in South Eastern Europe (SEE), the REC, with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), recently awarded EUR 174,000 in regional grants to five civil society organisations operating in the region. The awards for grant proposals are provided within the framework of the REC's SECTOR project.
The five projects, expected to run from June 2008 through 2009 cover: sustainable reduction of air pollution from motor traffic; protection of urban forests and green areas; establishment and support for a green lobby group; improving urban transport; and promoting production and consumption of organic food. The respective grant-winning CSOs are: ECAT Tirana (Environmental Centre for Administration and Technology), academic association NGO Eco-Logic, 4x4x4 Balkan Bridges Skopje, Zelena Akcija (Green Action), and local development agency Struga.
"SECTOR grants provide a good opportunity for CSOs in the region not just to raise public awareness about urban development impacts on the environment, but to encourage participation and contributions in ways that benefit entire communities," says Entela Pinguli, senior grants manager of the REC's NGO Support Programme. "Some of the supported initiatives are aimed at policy makers and present challenges to existing legislation through policy debates, which has a democratising effect on these societies. Others are promoting changes in behaviour-encouraging energy saving, reduced consumption, recycling and so forth. The grants also enable practical community efforts such as greening parts of a city, cleaning dumpsites and rehabilitating landfills."
The grant-selection process took place from November 2007 to August 2008. An independent evaluation committee coordinated the REC-reviewed proposals and made decisions based on criteria detailed in the grants announcement. Sida has approved the selection results.
The regional grants scheme runs parallel to national grant schemes in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Details of the grant announcements are available at the project website: www.rec.org/sector/support/index.html.