A joint NGO project on the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)
January 2010 saw the start of implementation of the “Partnership Actions for Biodiversity Protection in Western Balkan” project. The project, which runs until December 2011, is led by ‘Young Researchers of Serbia’ with partners WWF Mediterranean and two local NGOs – Green Home from Podgorica, Montenegro and Sunce from Split, Croatia. The project team will work on strengthening the capacity of environmental NGOs for the protection of biodiversity and natural resources in Montenegro and Serbia, by promoting and supporting the implementation of key EU conservation policy (Natura 2000) and regional initiatives on climate change awareness (Earth Hour).
In the first period of project implementation there were two meetings of NGO networks – one in Serbia and one in Montenegro. During the meeting of the ‘Natura 2000 Resource Center’ network in Serbia, which gathered 33 participants, future activities of the network were discussed, and ideas for strengthening the network were proposed. It became clear that communications might be the biggest challenge for the network (many people working in NGOs do so voluntary, often after a full day in their main occupation).
Four representatives were chosen, since the network is divided into four groups: communications, education, lobbying and scientific research. In future, these representatives will lead internal communications and this way it should all be much easier for the network.
Another meeting was in Montenegro – the ‘Natura 2000 Info Center’ network gathered 15 NGO representatives. The focus of the meeting was planning the activities of the network and discussing steps for strategic planning. The project team in Serbia and Montenegro is currently drafting strategies for the networks, to define their work for the next 5 years.
Christoph Stein, Head of Capacity Building at WWF Mediterranean, hosted a training on networking for the project team in Barcelona, Spain in April – for six participants from Serbia and Montenegro. The aim of the training was to learn about different experiences and approaches in NGO networking.
Meanwhile, in June there was a three-day training on Biodiversity Policy and Advocacy in Belgrade, Serbia. About 20 representatives of NGOs heard about EU biodiversity policy, lobbying and communications in Natura 2000. A further training on Communications in Natura 2000 will be held in the autumn in Podgorica, Montenegro. Two study tours are also planned – in Brussels, Belgium and in Split, Croatia.
A very important part of the project, due to kick off in 2011, is to support local actions to protect biodiversity. About 10 organizations from Serbia and five from Montenegro will have an opportunity to receive both financial support and expert assistance on concrete projects in local communities.
Last, not least, the newsletter you're reading, as well as a blog (ngonatura2000.blogspot.com), are part of project outreach activities.