- GENERAL INFORMATION
The Hub aims to be a regional center with a global impact that will create and share knowledge and innovation on CSOs’ role in promoting democracy and supporting the development of civil society in the Western Balkans in the long term. The Hub will support effective, transparent and accountable CSOs that will contribute to protecting and promoting civic space for a vibrant, pluralistic and rights-based civil society in the Balkans. The Hub was developed from BCSDN’s own experience and the strong belief and commitment to regional cooperation of our members which came together to establish a regional approach to promoting the civic space. After two years of preparation, BCSDN launched the Regional Civil Society Development Hub in September 2019 as a pilot program funded the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The Hub’s main aim is to strengthen regional cooperation to promote civic space in the Western Balkan. To achieve this the Hub is set on two complementary pillars:
- Systematic monitoring of the civil society environment, CSO capacities and accountability, conducted by BCSDN and its members, based on a standardized methodology of the Monitoring Matrix for the enabling environment, and a new methodology for monitoring CSO capacities and accountability.
The findings from the monitoring are used as basis for determining the needs, bottlenecks and priorities for the second component:
- A re-granting component enabled with the Regional Fund providing two types of assistance:
i) Grant scheme support for regional initiatives to address challenges identified with the monitoring;
ii) Ad-hoc grants for supporting innovative uptakes and immediate needs of CSOs to reclaim civic space in any of the WB6 countries.
- HUB STRATEGY 2019-2021
- HUB’S ACTIVITIES
There are two types of activities that will be implemented through the Hub for achieving its objectives
–Systematic monitoring of the environment for civil society development and the state of CSO capacities and accountability in the Western Balkan region.
This will be conducted by BCSDN and its WB members in the 6 countries based on a standardized methodology: the Monitoring Matrix in regards to enabling environment, and through the development of a new methodology for monitoring CSO capacities and accountability.
The Monitoring Matrix for enabling environment for civil society development is a tool developed as a collective effort of CSO experts and practitioners from the BCSDN’s network of members and partners, and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL). It presents the main principles and standards that are identified as crucial for the legal environment to be considered supportive and enabling for the operations of CSOs. As such, the Monitoring Matrix aims to define an optimum situation desired for the civil society to function and develop effectively, and at the same time, it sets a framework which can be followed and implemented by public authorities. The Monitoring Matrix research results are summarized each year into country reports and one regional report that provides a comprehensive overview of the policy and legal framework that governs the civil society in the Western Balkans and Turkey (WBT) region.
Apart from improving civil society’s performance by creating an enabling environment for civil society development, improvement “from within” is also necessary. CSOs in the WB region need to improve their standards to increase the trust of their constituencies, the citizens, donors and policymakers. Civil society has an important role in holding all stakeholders, including itself, to the highest levels of accountability. In this respect, a new research methodology will be developed for the assessment of CSOs’ capacities, based on which BCSDN WB members will conduct field research with target groups on a national level. The inputs gathered from the members will be summarized into a regional report on CSOs’ capacities providing information on the CSOs’ needs towards improved trust and legitimacy of the CSO sector.
-Fostering the regional cooperation through the Hub’s re-granting instrument (the Regional Fund), which will provide different types of funding mechanism to respond to the needs of the civil society in the Western Balkans.
This is an essential component of the Hub as it will enable the use of new and established funding mechanisms and working methods to enable wider civil society engagement for advancing the civic space and the civil society development in the region. The Regional Fund provides two types of support:
- Grant support for regional initiatives to address key challenges to the civic space, identified with the monitoring of the civil society operating environment conducted by BCSDN; and
- Ad- hoc support grants for innovative uptakes and immediate needs of CSOs to reclaim/advance civic space. The thematic priorities will concern enabling civic space for human rights, gender equality, diversity and inclusion, environment, as well as for sharing expertise and peer-to-peer support among CSOs in the region in the areas of civic space and accountability.
- GOVERNING STRUCTURE
The work of the Regional Civil Society Development Hub and the achievement of the Hub’s objectives depends on effective and accountable governance and implementation.
The governing bodies of the Hub are the following entities that are accountable for fulfillment of the Hub’s Strategy:
The Board is the governing and supervisory organ of BCSDN. The main responsibilities of the Board related to the functioning of the Hub are reviewing and approving the strategic documents necessary for smooth implementation of the Hub’s Strategy. In this respect, the Board approves and supervises the implementation of the Hub’s Strategy, the procedures established about the re-granting mechanism and all other strategic documents that refer to the Hub’s functioning.
For more details, please follow the link.
The Steering Group is established to support and supervise the work of the Hub. It comprises of experts with strong regional experience who have proven expertise in the area of CSO’s development, accountability and transparency. The Steering Group received its mandate by the BCSDN Board.
The Steering Group oversees the Hub’s work and provides strategic and operational directions, ensuring that all procedures related to the re-granting mechanisms are conducted properly, guaranteeing impartiality and fairness in the decision-making process. The Steering Group has an advisory role in knowledge provision and orientation, monitors the progress in the implementation of the Hub’s Strategy, and verifies and approves the respective monitoring results.
Members of the Steering Group:
Dubravka Velat- Chairperson of the Steering Group
Dubravka is an international expert with 38 years of professional work experience: 10 years in the Federal statistical office on national surveys and researches in ex-Yugoslavia and 28 years of experience in development and peace building work as civil society activist and as a consultant in Serbia and in the region. Her area of expertise covers identification, formulation, budgeting, implementation, reporting and evaluating of projects, financed by European Commission and other international and domestic donors. She has over 20 years of experience with more than 2.000 days of basic and advanced training, assessments of grants, projects and organizations, consultancy, evaluation (design of monitoring/evaluation systems, carrying out mapping exercises, evaluations and reporting, policy analysis and development), technical assistance and providing materials and literature for NGOs and institutions in Serbia and in the region; Experience in establishing civil society organisations and networks and fostering their growth and effectiveness, including coordination of activities involving more than 50.000 civil society activists, national and local government members and other civil society stakeholders; Coordinated more than 20 TOT programmes, from design to delivery both in civil and public sector. Currently, she is a freelancer and owner of the VELAT Agency for consulting.
Tina Divjak is currently the head of advocacy at the Center for Information Service, Co-operation and Development of NGOs (CNVOS) in Slovenia. She holds a law degree from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and has passed the national bar exam. Mrs Divjak has been working on various issues related to NGO development in Slovenia since 2003. She started at the Legal Informational Centre for NGOs in Slovenia with comparative analysis and the drafting of reports related to NGO legislation, public benefit status, and cooperation between NGOs and the Government. In this position, Mrs Divjak also contributed to various legal initiatives and the development of an environmental NGO public participation program. Continuing at CNVOS as a senior legal advisor she authored or participated in the drafting of several laws, including the Law on Voluntarism, Law on Associations, Law on Foundations, and the Law on Social Entrepreneurship. Her advocacy activities in relation to legislation also cover lobbying and NGO coalition building. Currently, Mrs Divjak is also focused on involvement of NGOs in the programming and implementation of the European social funds 2014 – 2020 and is also the president of the Slovenian Government’s Council for development of NGOs.
Luben is a Consultant with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) providing technical assistance and expert support to local partners since 2007 in the areas of registration and operation of NGOs, taxation, and funding for civil society, tax incentives for donations, social contracting, state funding, CSO-government cooperation, etc. Luben has taken part in a number of comparative researchers and is co-managing different country projects. He has worked in a number of countries, especially in the CEE region and the former Soviet Union. He has participated in the drafting of rules for distribution of state grants in Albania, has analyzed the legal framework for CSOs in Armenia and the mechanisms for social contracting in Kazakhstan and has been involved in projects in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Turkey and Mongolia, among others. He helped to develop a monitoring framework for the CSO environment in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In the period 2015 – 2017 he was elected Chairperson of the Public Council of the Committee on Interaction with Civil Society and Citizen Complaints with the Bulgarian Parliament.
Goran is the director of the non-governmental organization Media Center. Recently, he did several analyses on the work of the Agency for Electronic Media and Radio and Television of Montenegro (RTCG) and prepared amendment about media laws in Montenegro (Media Law, Law on Audio-visual Media Services and Law on RTCG). Goran was a member of the Council of RTCG from July 2009 until December 2017, nominated by NGOs. He is a trainer and consultant in strategic planning, managing advocacy campaigns, project management, organizational management, fundraising, human resources development, etc. As a consultant in these areas is often engaged in various projects by non-governmental organizations, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, local government, state public authorities (head of Montenegrin office of the regional EU project TACSO, Program Director and Executive Director of the Centre for Development of NGOs, etc.). He has given numerous lectures at national and international conferences on the topics of media freedom, public broadcaster functioning, development of NGOs and civil society and the state of the NGO sector in Montenegro, and has published several documents on the cooperation of the state and non-governmental organizations, citizen’s participation in the decision-making process.
Arben has a long professional experience in programming and implementation of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Governance and Public Administration reform. He worked as chief of Good Governance section, team leader, and consultant for a series of multi UN agencies’, UNDP, EU, World Bank, and bilateral funded programs. In particular, he has an extensive successful experience in managing complex projects of multi annual implementation framework. His experience in Albania and Kosovo includes support to key institutions such as Prime Minister’s Office, line ministries, Parliament and judiciary, by involving in the whole cycle of strategic planning, support to evidence-based policy making, institutional and business process analysis through mapping, modelling, drafting, and implementation. His management experience includes participation in central processes such identification of national development priorities, policy advice services to the Government, employing best practices and lessons learned relevant to the country policy goals, programme development and implementation, quality control and delivery. He has specific experience with the EU in public administration, local governance, and socio-economic development. In addition, he was engaged a lot in the evaluation and assessment of program resource allocations to civil society organizations through various calls for proposals.
Task Force Group is established to support the Hub’s set-up and functioning. It is composed of BCSDN members which have the necessary knowledge available for the development of the Hub: reputable civil society expertise, a track record of funding CSO development, a good understanding of civic space trends, and well-established network of civil society contacts across the countries covered with the Hub. Task Force Group ensures the capacity building component by sharing national expertise and experience with the regional staff. In particular, the TFG supports and advises the BCSDN Executive Office in preparation of the documents and conducting the processes related to the re-granting mechanisms, including monitoring of the implementation of the grants awarded. Also, TFG members perform regular monitoring of the environment for civil society development and the state of CSO capacities and accountability in their country and prepare the respective Monitoring Reports.
Members of the Task Force Group:
- Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), Republic of North Macedonia
- Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF), Kosovo
- Civic Initiatives (CI), Serbia
- Center for Development of Non-Governmental Organizations (CRNVO), Montenegro
- Center for Promotion of Civil Society (CPCD), Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Partners Albania for Change and Development (PA), Albania
Find more details about our members here.
BCSDN Executive Office is accountable for the overall Hub’s administration, management of funds, legal and fiduciary obligations, and for all donor requirements. The EO supports the Hub’s governance structure, in particular, the work of the Board and the Steering Group in performing their tasks and responsibilities.
Responsibilities of the Executive’s Office include preparation of all necessary documentation for the processes that are implemented by the Hub, including the re-granting mechanisms, organizing and conducting the selection processes and monitoring the implementation of the awarded grants. Also, it is accountable for the preparation and publication of the Annual Regional Monitoring Reports on the environment for civil society development, and the development of a new methodology for monitoring CSO capacities and accountability with the support of its 6 WB members part of the TFG.
For more details, please follow the link.