Strengthening the Role and Function of Civil Society Organisations to Promote Change and Enable Action in the Urban Environment is the title of a series of master classes aimed at capacity building for civil society organisations (CSOs) in the West Balkans.
The master class series is part of a Sida-funded programme to promote development of a democratic environmental civil society in SEE, and to promote sustainable development and improved living conditions in urban areas. The project period is from April 2006 to March 2010. The first session, the Serbian Master Class, took place in Belgrade from February 4-9 and attracted 36 participants who completed the five following modules: Lobbying, Watchdogging, Public Participation, Legal Recourse/Advocacy, and Effective Communication and Public Outreach.
The overall goal of the class was to provide participants with the tools to address two key questions, namely: 'What's my role in effecting change and environmental action?' and 'How can I make a difference?' According to Jerome Simpson, head of the REC's Information Programme, the master class series also plays an important role in networking CSOs.
"As the Regional Environmental Reconstruction Programme [REReP] projects for SEE have drawn to a close, there are fewer and fewer national NGO events. The master class inadvertently filled that function," says Simpson. "What's more, because it's the only occasion during which so many separate CSO activists are brought together, it's a welcome opportunity for them to see that they're not the only ones challenged by poor authority compliance with already weak rules and compliance, or challenged internally by small budgets."