New 10 million EUR initiative to help boost citizen engagement across the Western Balkans

Apr 25, 2017

Photo: Ljubomir Stefanov

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 25, 2017 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU) launched an ambitious programme to substantially increase the involvement of civil society organizations in local development efforts.

Spanning Albania, Kosovo,* Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a budget of EUR 10 million, the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD) will simplify the process through which municipalities fund civil society organizations and help the latter apply for local grants. It will also create a regional network of CSOs and government institutions, facilitating dialogue among them. Two hundred key projects will be implemented for the benefit of 38,000 people. ReLOaD builds on and scales up the experiences of the Reinforcement of Local Democracy (LOD) project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period 2009-2016.

Veva Ruiz Calavera, Director for Western Balkans at the European Commission, said "I am delighted that, with the launch of this Regional Programme, we are continuing to support citizen engagement in the Western Balkans. Indeed, promoting further development of participatory democracies is an integral part of the EU accession agenda in the region. This programme is also important because promoting participation of all citizens at local level has a real, visible impact on peoples' lives."

“We need to make a stronger push for a vibrant civil society, open and inclusive local governments and strong and healthy local democratic culture in our region,” said Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “With the support from the EU and the partnership of local governments, we are confident that we can make that a reality.”

Across the Western Balkans, lack of transparency in the way local governments fund CSOs is perceived as one of the major obstacles for development and functioning of a credible civil society. At the same time, CSOs lack capacity to design projects and access available public funding, or raise funds from other sources. By improving municipal funding mechanisms for CSOs, the initiative will contribute better to serving local needs and improve participatory decision-making in partner municipalities.

The initiative has a budget of 10 million EUR, with 8.5 million coming from the EU and another 1.5 million from UNDP and the local governments involved in the programme.

 

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

Contact information

Melisa Durak Buljubasic, UNDP CO BiH Communications Officer, melisa.durak-buljubasic@undp.org

Ludmila Tiganu, Communications Specialist, UNDP Brussels, ludmila.tiganu@undp.org

Maria Esposito, Programme Assistant, maria.ESPOSITO@ec.europa.eu, EU contact