capacity building

Whats new in Sfteam?

by Ondrej Marek, 11 April 2011

Work of Sfteam can be for someone little bit misty. Therefore we publish periodic overview of our activities in all countries. We hope that this can enlighten our activities and inspired you.

European level respectation of sfteam work

As a sign of co-operation among SFteam and other European NGOs, Bankwatch asked SFteam member NSC for input into the EU budget review position paper about the partnership aspects of budgeting in May.

A new achievement reached in this reporting period shows the European level acknowledgement of SFteam work. The European Commission, DG Regio invited SFteam to a closed seminar (Informal Roundtable, 30 April) where high-level DG Regio officials discussed actual questions and the future of EU Funds with some selected EU NGOs, as a preparation for the 2014+ planning. SFteam was asked to present the results of their research and study prepared in the previous Mott project, as well as the recommendations on public participation developed on the basis of the study. Milieukontakt (MKI) updated the SFteam leaflet for the roundtable and spread it during the event. SFteam got invited and participated in the second roundtable of DG Regio, on 24 November, as well, where various stakeholders got acquainted with and discussed the Fifth Cohesion Report and outlines of the future Cohesion Policy.

Extension of the network

MKI informed several Croatian, Serbian and Macedonian NGOs about SFteam work. In order to recruit a new partner from Croatia, MKI sent out a tender to Croatian NGOs in June but did not get any response till the end of August.

MKI, with Croatian partners, prepared several applications for EU funding, one of them specifically aimed at sustainable regional development in the framework of EU Accession, for IPA fund. This would involve MKI for capacity building and international networking with SFteam, and is still under consideration.

Poland

PGN coordinated an environmental NGO coalition on EU funds which prepared a statement on the mid-term review of EU funds for Infrastructure and Environment and organised a roundtable for NGOs, European Parliament and national government officials about post-2013 EU funds. NGOs involved in monitoring committees of EU funds regularly exchange information. Both the Climate Coalition and the National Federation of NGOs seek and consider advice regularly from the National Coalition on EU Funds, chaired by SFteam-member PGN. NGOs also launched two researches on practices of EU funds' implementation, one on nature conservation and environmental education and one (for SFteam publication) on partnership.

The NGO Coalition facilited by PGN was, via its representative in the Monitoring Committee, invited to provide input into the mid-term revision of the Operational Programme for Infrastructure and Environment, by the Ministry of Regional Development. PGN, as the Coordinator of the national NGO Coalition, was invited to participate in the meeting of the European Network of Environmental Authorities (ENEA) and also entitled to delegate representatives to each of the working groups of the newly established national ENEA. The Network and its working groups are meant for exchange of experience and problem solving in relation to EU funds and environment. Several government officials actively participated in the roundtable on the future of EU Cohesion Policy organised by the NGO Coalition.

Hungary

NSC helped reviving the NGO coalition for the transparency of programming (CNNy) which pushed for the transparency and strategic environmental assessment of the revision of the national plan for EU funds allocations, as well as the re-launch of monitoring committees after the change of government. NSC co-ordinated an NGO petition calling for measures for sustainable social and environmental development in the revised national plan for EU funds allocations; 215 NGOs endorsed the petition. NSC also continued its co-operation with environmental NGOs working on regional level on SFs. In all regions environmental NGOs continued to operate formal (but not registred) regionwide environmental NGO networks, which unify the efforts of environmental NGOs working on SFs, and are quasi official partners for regional authorities (monitoring committees mainly). NSC organised a training on advocacy for env. NGOs which resulted in the development of an advocacy plan for 2011. NGOs in all regions were active and successful in struggling for special funding schemes for NGO capacity building.

NSC was invited to co-organise a section of the European Civil Meeting, an official side-event of the Hungarian EU Presidency. The section will focus on public participation in regional policy decision-making, ie. largely related to EU funds. As a result of the pressure from NGO and European Commission delegates, the Managing Authority of the State Reform Operational Programme even brings documents in a conceptual phase to the Monitoring Committee meetings already. As a result of concerted efforts of regional NGOs and NSC, all Regional Development Agencies and regional monitoring committees and the national managing authority supported the setting-up of funding schemes for NGO capacity building from EU funds; the measure was included among the funding priorities for 2011–13. Due to strong advocacy of NGOs (led by NSC), the funding scheme for sustainable consumption patterns was also included among the funding priorities for 2011–13.

Slovakia

FoE-CEPA facilitated watchdog team, where NGOs agreed to establish a working group on partnership at the Government Council for NGOs. More NGOs expressed interest in getting involved in communication with the managing authority for the European Social Fund and preparing recommendations. FoE-CEPA continued working on Roma communities to assess their benefits from EU funds. They prepared a report about this situation and convinced three other NGOs to join in preparing recommendations for the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities.

FoE-CEPA also works with local communities of the Banska Bystrica region. Upon request, FoE-CEPA prepared regional energy strategies for 3 micro-regions, feasibility studies for 2 municipal renewable energy projects; they communicate regularly with representatives of municipalities and also assist them by having developed a website about energy issues.

The Managing Authority of European Social Fund (ESF) is introducing new measures for the transparency of ESF management; they involve more representatives of NGOs in the management and accept more NGO suggestions. The Service Centre for Podpol'anie Micro-region, initiated by FoE-CEPA to support municipalities in drawing Structural Funds, has started operating and preparing project proposals for municipalities. The implementation of a pilot biomass project of a microregion, assisted by CEPA, started.

Following consultation with FoE-CEPA, Bankska Bystrica Regional Authority expressed interest in the preparation of a regional energy strategy.

Upon the initiative of FoE-CEPA, officials responsible for Horizontal Priority Marginalized Roma Communities started evaluating the impact of EU funds on Roma communities and are planning to scrutinise the project indicators used for Roma inclusion; they wish NGOs to be involved in this.

Czech republic

CCO is an active member of ANNO (association of NGOs), especially represent ANNO towards Ministry of Local Development. ANNO conducted an information campaign for NGOs on partnership in regions, in cooperation with chambers. ANNO and CCO, in cooperation with the Ministry, organised a series of seminars about EU funds for NGOs in several regions.

The partnership agreements developed by the association of NGO’s in Czech Republic (ANNO) and the association of regional governments, was signed in 8 of the 14 regions in the Czech Republic.

Ministry for Local Development, in cooperation with ANNO and CCO, organized a second series of seminars for NGOs in all regions. The seminars focused on NGOs and structural funds. At the seminars, the Ministry of local development presented the outcomes of the internal analysis about NGOs' drawings from structural funds.

After negotiations between ANNO, the Governmental Board for NGOs and the Ministry for Local Development, the Ministry started to prepare an official evaluation of the NGOs' access to Structural Funds and underlying reasons.

Romania

FEC (Focus Eco Center) works in the Niraj microregion. They helped local NGOs to get involved in the elaboration of the LEADER strategy of the micro-region. With the help of FEC, two local NGOs also got involved in two good local development projects (on the direct distribution of local products and eco-agro-tourism and public lighting and info campaign about climate change).

FEC established partnership with the „Pannonia Kincse“ LEADER group (Hungary) for exchange of information. Several NGOs supported FEC position regarding a problematic project proposal. After seeing the result of the successful campaign at the regional authority, several NGOs expressed their wish to also participate in the work of regional authorities in other regions.

The trust building process started around the beginning of this project seems to be successful as mayors and representatives of local authorities actively participated in the 13 workshops in the 13 member communities of the Niraj valley LEADER group, where priorities for sustainable development were identified. FEC was elected to become a member of the board of the LEADER group. Local authorities from two villages asked FEC to elaborate two, environmentally sound local projects (wetland restoratino, public lighting).

The regional authority put on the agenda two issues upon the initiative of FEC. The first one was about a problematic project proposed for EU funding. As a result of the discussion and the position of NGOs presented by FEC, the authority modified the funding measure and thus prevented the destruction of about 8 ha of forest.

Bulgaria

BlueLink and other NGOs developed a map and database of problematic EU-funded projects and maintain a website with up-to-date information about EU funds, thus filling the niche of official information. They also developed recommendations on the administration of EU funds. They also presented their analysis and recommendations at several conferences for the public. A regioinal branch of the NGO Coalition also developed. At national level, the Coalition BlueLink is member of and the Civil Participation Forum agreed on a joint campaign for nomination of NGO representatives to working groups for programming for EU funds 2014+. They also launched a joint new discussion channel on programming.

The Monitoring Committee at the Ministry of Environment accepted a mechanism for chosing NGO representatives on the basis of elections that NGOs conduct among themselves via an online mechanism administered by BlueLink.

The newly formed larger NGO coalition for programming advocacy and the Minister for Regional Development reached a preliminary agreement on an efficient mechanism for the inclusion of NGO experts in the programming process for the post-2013 period of EU funds.

Upon pressure by the regional branch of the NGO Coalition, local authorities have strengthened their capacities in communication with the public and in ensuring transparency of EU-funded projects.

Latvia

Green Liberty (GL) presented good practices of public participation in the environmental sector at the Latvian NGO platform which used these for the formulation of the new concept of the public participation strategy which was later discussed by the Environmental Advisory Council. The Council drafted position papers on energy issues, based on the input from GL. GL also analysed government regulations and discussed possible activities in LEADER in a presentation at a meeting of Local Action Groups which, thus, recognised the need for awareness-raising on environmental issues. The Latvian Rural Forum also reached agreement with GL on closer cooperation in the implementation of LEADER, working on reform proposals for the Common Agriculture Policy and the shaping of the new Territorial Cohesion Policy. These are signs of a deeper understanding of the environmental issues among a wider circle of NGOs.

GL was invited to participate in the project evaluation committee of water management projects applying for EU funds, which gave all participants an opportunity for insight into each other's consi­derations (and topics represented) and the operation of project evaluation.



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