The 14th edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum: Strengthening the capacity of the CSOs in the Black Sea to foster regional cooperation and stability took place between the 13 – 15 of October 2021, in an online format, and was organized by the Romanian NGDO Platform (FOND) with the financial support of the European Union.
The 2021 edition, through its online format, aimed to contribute to the identification of the common challenges that civil society organizations are facing right now by presenting the main findings of two studies developed by FOND this year, “Shrinking Civic Space post-COVID-19 pandemic in the Black Sea region” and “CSO Development Effectiveness Principles in the Black Sea region” to understand the nature of the evolution of pandemic’s impact on NGOs the Black Sea region, based on the premise that a healthy democracy works on the basis of dialogue between the government and the population. Moreover, the discussion was focused on other several aspects like strengthening the importance of engaging in regional multi-stakeholder partnerships, presenting the progress made and next steps for the implementation of the European Union’s policies in the Black Sea Region, underlining donors’ response and interest for supporting CSO development and resilience in the post-pandemic context; highlighted the success stories of CSOs in the region.
The 14th edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum started off with the Welcoming Remarks delivered by Mr Ștefan Cibian, the Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND, Mr Bogdan Aurescu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, and Mr Michael Rupp, European Commission.
The first Plenary Session: Together for action: The contribution of a multi-stakeholder approach towards sustainable democratisation processes and sustainable economic development in the Black Sea region was dedicated to presenting a multi-stakeholder approach, pointing out how can this perspective contribute to achieving cohesion, with the aim of raising awareness on the work, the partnership opportunities and the role played by each sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Ștefan Cibian, FOND president, moderated the discussion were H.E. Amb. Lazăr Comănescu, Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), Mr Cătălin Constantin Harnagea, General Director, Romanian Agency for International, Development Cooperation (RoAid), Mr Jocelyn Guitton, European Commission (EEAS) – Eastern Partnership, Regional Cooperation and OSCE Division and Mr Adrian Lupușor, Expert-Grup / Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum took the floor.
The second Plenary Session: Civil society as key driver of resilience and development was moderated by Prof. Dimitrios Tryantaphyllou, Kadir Has University, and focused on the evolution of civic space in the post-pandemic period, the state of CSOs as well as the transformational approach that needs to be embedded in the organizational model of the civil society. Mr Marc Mazureanu, ASIST Moldova, presented the main findings of the Study ‘’Shrinking Civic Space post-COVID-19 pandemic in the Black Sea region’’. The sessions benefited further from the presence of and interventions from Ms Mariana Trifonova, Economic Policy Institute, Mr Vazha Salamadze, Civil Society Institute Georgia and Ms Olivia Baciu, Partners Global.
On the second day of the online Forum, the third Plenary Session: Calling for cohesion and common actions in the Black Sea Region – the power of an organised civil society was organized, under the moderation of Ms Svitlana Kuts, International Fundraising Consultancy Ukraine. The session aimed at highlighting the importance of digitalisation as a key factor in supporting cooperation, as well as the opportunity to achieve a common vision and address climate change factors challenges through the EU policies in the Black Sea region.
The fourth Plenary Session: The Black Sea NGO Forum in 2021: SDGs and Development Effectiveness Principles in the spotlight was moderated by Ms Ingrid Marinescu, the Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND and welcomed the interventions addressed by Ms Luciana Ghica, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Political Science, Mr Bogdan Radu, Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences, which presented the study “CSO Development Effectiveness Principles for the Black Sea region”, commissioned by the Romanian NGDO Platform for Development FOND. The session continued with the interventions from Ms Anja Bosilkova-Antovska, Balkan Civil Society Development Network, Ms Farwa Sial, Eurodad and Ms Celia Cranfield, CONCORD in which they discussed the trends in development effectiveness policies, recommendations regarding the use of ODA and how can partnerships be applied to achieve efficient use of SDGs.
The last day of the Forum started with the Plenary Session V: Personal Stories: From personal experience to regional/global impact – the unwritten convention of civil society. The session was moderated by Ms Cristina Rigman, Passionate Leadership & Adaptability Strategist, Speaker, Trainer & Coach who invited Ms Mariana Ianachevici, the Association for Child and Family Empowerment “AVE Copiii”, Ms Hanna Liubakova, Atlantic Council and Ms Marta Meloni, Africa e Mediterraneo, to present their inspirational work and the power of leading by example in order to have an impact.
The last day of the online Forum also 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: Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation and European Endowment for Democracy.
All throughout the 3 days of the online Forum, special slots were organized, dedicated to facilitating discussions for the members of the 14 Black Sea NGO Forum Working Groups, according to the new Strategic Framework for Civil Society Cooperation in the Black Sea Region (Istanbul, 2019): Knowledge Networks for Development, Anti-Corruption, Civic Engagement, Youth, Culture & Education, Sustainable Development, Youthbanks, Human Rights, Networking, Media & Communication, CSO Sustainability & Resilience, Environment & Climate Change, Sustainable Development & Corporate Social Responsibility, Local Democracy (new WG) and Volunteering Development. Moreover, during the Forum, two parallel workshops were organised by the Progress Foundation and the Romanian NGDO Platform on topics stated as important for participants, namely The triple ”O” factor in a partnership – Opportunity, Openness and Odds and CSO Development Effectiveness Principles in the Black Sea region.
The online event gathered participants from countries, from the Black Sea Region, as well as from the EU and the Balkans Region.
The final report of the event is available here.