12. 07. 2012.

The basis for partnership actions in the Western Balkans

Tanja Petrović, Young Researchers of Serbia
The outcome from the project “Strengthening the capacity of governments and civil sector in Serbia and in Montenegro to adapt to EU nature protection aquis“ was the networking project. Tanja Petrović, general secretary of Young Researchers of Serbia, writes about her experiences

Fifteen years ago, when Young Researchers from Serbia began their „quest“ for the serious financial resources that could be invested in the protection and conservation of biodiversity, finding that different kinds of Foundations set different kind of terms, we often asked ourselves: ‘Why donors complicate? Why this partnership anyway? Why this networking? What is achieved with this, except co adaptation of administration?’

Today, “only“ 15 years later (without desire to be not motivational enough to those who are just starting), I think that we have most answers that we received, among other things, implementing the project "Partnership Actions for Biodiversity Protection in Western Balkans“.

The objective of that project was to contribute to the protection of biodiversity in Serbia and Montenegro through promotion and support of implementation of key EU nature protection legislation. During the project, networking trainings were organized, study visits to Bruxelles and Croatia, local actions were held...

But the “history" of good partnerships does not start with "Partnership actions to protect biodiversity in the Western Balkans." All this would not have existed in 2009. if WWF didn't convince the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, that the project “Strengthening the capacity of governments and civil sector in Serbia and in Montenegro to adapt to EU nature protection aquis“ is necessary. This made basis for us, which I believe, we improved very well.

As for the results of the project "Partnership actions...", since the enumeration of the results was not motivational enough even for those who have achieved them, for this opportunity, we have decided to quote excerpts from an evaluation report, which are, among other things, based on interviews with various people who were involved in the project .

Milka Gvozdenović, coordinator of projects in Young Researchers of Serbia: 

„Partnership is a strong word! It means a lot and we already had it. But during the project implementation we made it stronger. What partnership on the project brought to me and my organization: Positive spirit and stress! Good ideas and actions! A lot of brainstorming and then sudden happiness when we understood what our partners meant! New knowledge tips and tricks! New understanding of partner’s work and plans! Some clear ideas about “what and with whom I wouldn’t like to work with in the future” and many, many other things! Another strong word and more important, frequently pronounced and written during project period, is “networking“. After almost 4 years working within the network I can say that I have answers to all questions regarding nature, nature protection, EU acquis, Natura 2000 in Serbia etc. No, I am not so advanced - I have colleagues in the network, many of them, with different professional background, with different knowledge, experience ... Thanks to the trustful relation and information exchange methods I can get answers. To conclude, don’t ask what your network can do for you—ask what you can do for your network! “

Natasa Kovačević, Program coordinator for education and capacities development in Green Home:
„After two years of working on this project and topics of biodiversity conservation, I can say the most significant change is that NGOs are gathered in small but effective number, with the good understanding of topic, capable to have argument based discussions on Natura 2000, to exchange information and help each other”.

Dejan Zagorac, president of Eko center: „To be honest, my motive to join the Network was not only to raise capacity of me personally and of my organization, and to get connected with the people who work on same field in Serbia, but also to connect with people from the Region and to visit some future Natura 2000 sites in the neighbourhood. Now, when this stage of programme is close to an end I can say that I got even more than I expected...“

Petra Boić Petrač, WWF Mediterranean communications officer: „It was great pleasure working on the project “Partnership Actions for biodiversity Protection in Western Balkans”. There are very few people who can say that, after the last workshop they did within the project, they got letters from participants saying they were: enjoying, having fun, learned a lot, would like to repeat it…This is confirmation of a success which I didn’t expect when we started component of local actions. Namely, local actions seemed to be the most difficult part of the project, but in the end, it was difficult for administration, but pleasure for implementation. “

Budimir Babić, president of Ecological Society Avalon: “This project, and everything connected to the network of environmental organizations 'Natura 2000 Resource centre of Serbia'”, has energy of understanding positive relations and cooperation”.

What to say after all these impressions? Except ... we need a new project.

Tanja Petrović, Young Researchers of Serbia

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