Environmental Civil Society Support Programme for Serbia (CSOnnect)

Environmental Civil Society Support Programme for Serbia (CSOnnect)

Source of funding


Name of client/donor

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Overall project value

EUR 1,995,219


October 2015 – October 2018

Beneficiary countries


Number of staff


In the coming years, institutions, organisations and citizens in the Republic of Serbia will face numerous challenges in the environmental sector and will have to meet obligations arising from the EU integration process and transposition to more complex environmental protection practices. Civil society has great potential to contribute to these processes, but it needs on-going support.

Serbia is soon expecting to open Chapter 27 of the acquis (Environment) within the EU accession process, thus one of the most important aims of the CSOnnect support programme is to contribute to the development of a more pluralistic civil society capable of taking a more proactive role in the process.

Only a strong civil society, with the resources to follow and evaluate the integration process and advocate for the same issues, can be of assistance to the state and EU institutions. Credible, pluralistic civil society networks can give a strong and measurable contribution to EU integration.

With capacity-development activities and support, Serbian environmental civil society will be strengthened and enabled to further influence changes in society at large, competently monitor both the EU negotiation process under Chapter 27 and government environmental legislation from a gender-sensitive perspective, and evaluate the environmental programmes that will be implemented by state institutions and local governments.

The overall goal is to empower civil society organisations (CSOs) to participate in environmental policy development and decision making actively, effectively and in a gender-sensitive manner; to play an active role in Serbia's EU accession process; and to monitor and evaluate environmental project implementation at local, regional and national level.

Specific objectives are to:

  • empower environmental CSOs to participate in the evaluation of regulations and laws, and directly assist in the negotiation process with the EU on Chapter 27, which will lead to benefits to both women and men in the field of environment;
  • enable women and men in CSOs to develop a strategic framework and capacities to effectively advocate for gender mainstreaming in environmental development; and
  • build the organisational capacities of CSOs to strategically develop and implement programmes and projects that advance protection policies and activities in the environmental sector with the participation of both men and women.

Environmental CSOs are expected to offer support to national and regional authorities in the process of environmental policy development and the negotiations and implementation of criteria defined in Chapter 27 of the acquis (Environment). The CSOnnect programme aims to contribute to the development of a pluralistic environmental civil society capable of taking a more proactive role in the EU negotiation process with institutions in the Republic of Serbia and officials from the EU.

Through continuous capacity building and the provision of core grants, the REC will strengthen environmental CSOs, increase their visibility in society, and prepare them to be capable partners in Serbia's EU accession process. By adopting several methodological approaches, providing clear information and advice, and creating a framework/platform for the work of CSOs, the REC will support the creation of networks of organisations willing to engage in the EU accession negotiations and independently monitor the adoption and implementation of regulations in the environmental sector. These organisations will also be ready to implement projects and activities that contribute to environmental protection and directly benefit the lives of all citizens of Serbia.

Activities contributing to the establishment of a help desk for environmental CSOs include:

  • setting up an environmental CSO help desk office;
  • developing and implementing CSO training programmes;
  • strengthening CSOs to network, reach consensus on topics related to Chapter 27 and address civil society messages to decision makers;
  • supporting established thematic CSO working groups for different aspects of Chapter 27;
  • establishing communication channels between CSO working groups, CSO network members and relevant government institutions involved in EU negotiations;
  • providing research support to the Government of Serbia Negotiating Group on Environment (Chapter 27);
  • implementing study tours to EU member countries to learn from CSO experiences in the negotiation process;
  • organising public debates and media/advocacy campaigns (communicating clear civil society messages to the public and interested stakeholders); and
  • cooperating with international and EU CSO networks.

Activities contributing to core granting for environmental CSOs include:

  • developing a grant scheme to support CSOs;
  • implementing CSO organisational capacity training programmes tailored to CSOs involved in the core funding programme;
  • developing strategic documents as a mechanism for joint public advocacy by CSOs;
  • establishing a mechanism for dialogue with representatives of institutions at local, regional and national level; and
  • developing a system for monitoring CSO work and the impact of their actions and public advocacy initiatives.

Activities contributing to both programme areas include:

  • developing and implementing special training curricula that strengthen specific capacities of CSOs;
  • organising public events as a mechanism for public dialogue on the EU accession process;
  • supporting specific activities that encourage the greater involvement of women in the preparation and implementation of environmental policies;
  • supporting environmental media and reporting on civil society activities through media trainings, joint workshops with CSOs and media awards; and
  • helping to set up a functional network of environmental CSOs.
  • Granting
  • Capacity building and training
  • Networking and cooperation
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Information dissemination

Project Publications