The Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND organized between the 2nd and 3rd of November 2015, in Tbilisi, Georgia, the VIIIth edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum, which hosted the annual meeting of the CSOs from the European region’s sub-region on Black Sea and the Balkans. The VIIIth edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum continued the partnership began in 2013 with CPDE, through which the regional discussions of the Forum are used as an input for the broader global context of development.
Among the CPDE representatives, Mr. Justin Kilcullen took part in the opening session of the Forum as Co-Chair of CPDE and underlined the importance of development effectiveness in the region, promotion of human and gender rights, empowerment of the people, democratic partnerships and solidarity, according to the Istanbul Principles.
Continuing the tradition begun in 2013, the VIIIth edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum included a session dedicated to CPDE’s work at an international and regional level. The session included presentations from Ms. Izabella Toth (European Representative in the CPDE Global Council), Mr. Vazha Salamadze (Non-EU sub-regional representative) and Ms. Tanja Hafner Ademi (Executive Director at Balkan Civil Society Development Network). The guest speakers presented recent updates on the development effectiveness agenda, highlighting the activity of monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a top priority for CPDE in the next period. Moreover, the importance of the engagement of civil society from the Non-EU sub-region (Black Sea Region and the Balkans) in CPDE work was emphasized and participants were encouraged to get more involved. The application deadline for the position of Black Sea and Balkans sub-regional representative within the CPDE Global Council was extended until the 10th of November 2015 and the results will be announced after the Forum.
A concrete result of the Forum was the official launch of the Report on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development in the Black Sea Region, developed in the period May-July 2015 by a team of experts from the Balkan Civil Society Development Network – Ms. Tanja Hafner Ademi and Ms. Milka Ivanovska, with the support of the Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND. The analytical framework of the research was based on a combination of the methodology of the Monitoring Matrix and the Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) Framework for Assessing Enabling Environment Progress.
The report found that all countries in the region are affected to a certain degree by limitations to an enabling environment for CSOs, confronting with key challenges related to: restrictions of freedom of association and peaceful assembly; burdensome reporting requirements; absence of systematic tax/fiscal framework for CSOs; absence of comprehensive and mandatory legal framework for CSO involvement in policy-making; involvement of CSOs mainly in politically non-sensitive issues; partial access to public information; barriers to access foreign funding; most foreign funding is project-based, and not core-funding.
The respondents concluded that enabling environment for CSOs is a common regional issue and should be made a cross-cutting priority for civil society cooperation at the Black Sea. Among the concrete proposals to tackle the challenges on enabling environment were: organizing multi-stakeholder exchanges of good practices on enabling environment; offering capacity building trainings for government bodies relating with CSOs on legal and regulatory issues, participatory policy development, transparency and access to information issues; implementing a national/regional monitoring tool (including a regional website for anonymous reporting of situations affecting organizations) and then using the findings for coordinated advocacy for enabling environment at regional and country level; organizing regional conferences to bring together donors, government and civil society experts on particular areas of CSO laws and regulatory issues; conducting systematic research on donor funding of civil society in the region to be presented at regional conferences; advocating for a culture of philanthropy and diversity of funding sources for CSOs in the region etc. More concrete recommendations on each of the dimensions included in the research are present in the report.
After the presentation of the report, a panel of experts shared their perspectives on the findings and how it could later be used as a monitoring tool for enabling environment for CSOs in the region. Mr. Brian Tomlinson was invited to take part in this panel, on behalf of the Monitoring and Evaluation Working Group within CPDE. Mr. Tomlinson highlighted that the closing space for CSOs is not only specific for the Black Sea region, but it is a global trend that could be reversed using effective strategies such as: engaging in broader coalitions that would include the issues of CSO enabling conditions within the pre-occupations of broader social movements; encouraging courageous local leadership; taking advantage of global and regional initiatives to profile civil society space (including the Black Sea NGO Forum); and improving CSO legitimacy as representing citizen’s voices. Moreover, Mr. Tomlinson presented the initiative of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) of undergoing a second monitoring round of the development effectiveness commitments assumed in Busan, especially indicator two – the progress on enabling environment for CSOs. Countries from the Black Sea Region & Balkans undertaking monitoring processes are Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Kosovo and the Republic of Moldova and CSO representatives from these countries are encouraged to be involved in this process. More information about the second monitoring round can be found here.
The Romanian NGDO Platform ensures the secretariat for the Black Sea and the Balkans sub-region (part of the European region within CPDE). Should you wish to find out more about CPDE’s work in the Black Sea Region and the Balkans, please visit the CPDE section on the Black Sea NGO Forum’s website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the global work of CPDE can be found at: www.csopartnership.org.
The Black Sea NGO Forum was organized with the financial support of the European Commission, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the UNDP Regional Centre for Europe and Central Asia, and CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – CPDE.
Nearly 140 participants attended the event, representing a wide range of national and international stakeholders from the Black Sea region – CSOs, regional and international organisations, regional and international donors, local authorities, academia and media.
The full report of the event will be soon available on the Black Sea NGO Forum website.
More information about the VIIIth edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum – agenda, concept, speakers’ presentations and photos – is available here.