Strengthening environmental protection in the region - from advocacy to sustainable development!

On January 15 in Zagreb, new regional project was introduced: Promoting sustainable energy and natural resource management. Project holder is Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia, and the project is funded by IPA program of the European Union.

Aim of this project is to strengthen the impact of non-governmental sector in the field of energy and transport policies and the management of natural resources in the Western Balkans and Turkey, as well as connecting NGO sector in the region with European networks and organizations in the field of environmental protection.

This project was selected on a competitive international tender open to organizations from across Europe. Among 179 projects submitted, 18 projects was approved, and Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia is the only Croatian organization, holder of a supported project, which clearly shows that we can compete with European organizations, said Toni Vidan from Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia.

Partner organization in the projects are: CEKOR (Subotica, Serbia), Center for Environment (Banja Luka, BIH), Center for energy and ecology (Tuzla, BIH), Green Home - Zeleni dom (Podgorica, Montenegro), and International partners Heinrich Boell Foundation (Berlin, Germany with local offices in Zagreb and Sarajevo), Friends of the Earth International - FOEI (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Friends of the Earth Europe - FOEE (Brussels, Belgium).

Vedran Horvat from the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBS) said: "This project brings strengthening of expertise in formulating policies in collaboration with partners and stakeholders in the EU and Germany." HBS is connected with local partners for ten years now, and this project is a result of a long work and cooperation in the formulation of sustainable energy projects and the efficient management of natural resources. In some ways this is support of the European green movement to sustainable development in the region.

Jagoda Munić, president of Friends of the Earth International, added that HBS brings professional expertise and research in the region, and FOEE & FOEI - the largest network of environmental organizations in the world – brings a clear vision of sustainable societies, the experience of similar organizations from all continents and expertise in the field of action at the European level, to the region. FOEE is the prestigious European branch of the network and recognizable actor in Brussels, actively contributing to the quality of EU policy and legislation, which affects the entire region, especially Croatia.

Nataša Crnković, from the Centre for Environment, noted how they intensively cooperate with organizations in the region, especially in the field of energy, which is recognized as one of the key problems in the region due to the numerous plans to build new power plants and hydropower plants. Thus they want to focus on the problems in the region that inhibit sustainable development. In addition to energy, negative trend is also significant in conversion of the agricultural and forest land.

Sanja Svrkota from Green Home said they will follow the process of joining the EU, and in the process they will use Croatian experience. She stressed the importance of education of civil society organizations and the citizens on the mechanisms of public participation in decision-making, such as use of impact assessment on environmental and nature. She pointed out that these studies so far have poor quality and that’s what they want to change.

Finally, Nataša Đereg from CEKOR announced that this project will fund public campaigns and encourage advocacy in the whole region of Western Balkans and Turkey. The goal is to strengthen cooperation in the region, because pollution from one country often affects the neighbouring countries. With activities in this project all partners will send a clear sign that they will vigorously oppose to any harmful projects which are not consistent with the concepts of sustainable development.

15.01.13. 11:51