The 12th edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum took place between the 23rd – 25th of October 2019, in Istanbul, Turkey and was organized by the Romanian NGDO Platform (FOND) in partnership with the Center for International and European Studies (Kadir Has University), with financial support of the European Union.
This year’s edition aimed to continue the discussions held last year in Brussels and highlight the progress made so far regarding the advancement of the Black Sea Synergy European Policy, such as the adoption of the Common Maritime Agenda and the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, as well as the role of civil society organisations in the implementation process of these very important strategic documents, having in mind their contribution to building society resilience and sustainable development in the region.
As with previous editions, the first day of the Forum has begun with a special session dedicated to inspiring CSO representatives, leaders and civic activists from the Black Sea Region, brought together to share lessons learned from their work, stories of personal motivation and ideas of overcoming common challenges. Speeches were delivered by Ms. Mariana Ianachevici, The Association for Child and Family Empowerment “AVE COPIII”, Republic of Moldova; Mr. Bogdan Maslych, GURT Resource Center, Ukraine; Ms. Alina Porumb, Association for the Practice of Transformation, Romania; and Ms. Burçak Çullu, ICE EEIG and NETBAN / Institute for Future Research, Turkey.
Moreover, this year’s edition continued the discussions on civil society resilience in a session facilitated by Ms. Olivia Baciu, Senior Adviser & Technical Lead, PartnersGlobal, who introduced participants to the Resiliency+ Framework developed by PartnersGlobal in partnership with CIVICUS, which provides key insights on how resiliency gives CSOs the capacity to anticipate, prepare and adapt swiftly and purposefully to external threats and internal vulnerabilities in such a way as to not only survive, but also thrive in response to multi-faceted changes posed by the civic space.
The day was then continued with 2 interactive sessions during which Ms. Svitlana Kuts, Independent NGO Consultant and Mr. Ken Phillips, Organization Futures USA presented the conclusions of the evaluation of the current Strategic Framework for Civil Society Cooperation in the Black Sea Region, the thematic cooperation areas included in the Framework were refined and the newly reorganised Black Sea NGO Forum Working Groups elaborated their action plan for the future which were presented in the following morning. Furthermore, during these sessions, the Black Sea NGO Forum Team presented the new Black Sea NGO Forum project “Building CSO Capacity for Regional Cooperation within the Black Sea Region 2019 -2021” implemented by FOND and supported by the European Union, as well as highlighted the opportunities available for the working groups through this project.
The second day of the Forum included more formal, policy-oriented panels: “Advancing the Black Sea Synergy”, focused on the political progress made in advancing the Black Sea Synergy European Policy and “How to Strengthen Black Sea Cooperation? A Multi-Stakeholder Approach”dedicated to the more practical issues concerning the implementation of the newly adopted Common Maritime Agenda and the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. The sessions benefited from the presence of and interventions from the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC); the European External Action Service (EEAS); the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; DG MARE, European Commission; the Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University (METU); and World Wide Fund for Nature Romania.
In the second half of the 2nd day, four parallel thematic workshops were delivered by organisations present at the Black Sea NGO Forum: Good Governance for NGO Networks and NGOs: Standards and Challenges; Surviving in the digital age the role of media professionals and local activists; Ecosystem for Sustainable Development 5Rs Framework; and Building responsible innovation ecosystem in the Black Sea Region in parallel to the implementation of SDGs.
The last day of the Forum included an interactive world-café with donors, organised by the Black Sea NGO Forum since 2017, which allowed donors and civil society representatives to interact openly, ask questions on each other’s activities, priorities and needs. The session was attended by the following donors: DG NEAR, European Commission, European Endowment for Democracy, National Endowment for Democracy, Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, and Stiftung Mercator.
The Forum ended with a session linking regional cooperation to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and highlighting the role of civil society organisations as essential actors. The session benefited from interventions from CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – CPDE, The Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation (LAPAS) / International Forum of National NGO Platforms (Forus), Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) and New Horizons Foundation Romania.
The event gathered throughout the three days 124 participants from 17 countries, the majority from the Black Sea Region and EU member states.
Photos taken during the event are available on the Black Sea NGO Forum Facebook Page.
The presentations made during the event will be uploaded shortly on our website and the final report of the event will be available in the upcoming weeks.