Ten Regional Initiatives for Expanding the Civic Space in the Western Balkans


As a network of organizations committed to empowering civil society and promoting the civic space in our region, we have achieved a lot by working jointly to facilitate a common understanding and promote a more enabling civil society environment. Building on our experience, in 2017 we started the development of a Regional Hub with the main aim to bring more actors on board and to support knowledge, innovation, and regional collaboration to advance the civic space in our region.

With the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), in 2019 our Regional Civil Society Development Hub was launched as a pilot programme with two main pillars: monitoring of the civil society environment and supporting other CSO actions to promoting the civic space in our region.

Through the Hub’s re-granting component, we have awarded 10 regional multi-country action grants to regional networks and initiatives supporting a diverse group of grantees.

Many of these projects focus on improving the policy dialogue among CSOs and authorities at different levels and fostering the citizens’ engagement in decision-making processes. Through strengthening these processes, for example, the Western Balkans Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety aims to advance the state of freedom of expression, and Think for Europe Network (TEN) aims to strengthen civil society monitoring in PAR area. SEENET – South East Europe network on natural resources, energy, and transport strives to identify and analyze potential legal framework improvement areas to initiate a dialogue about participation in environmental decision-making. Youth Initiative for Human Rights contributes towards wider civic space through the establishment of innovative inclusive practices of civil society, securing greater participation of all stakeholders concerned.

Other projects encourage new ideas about conducting advocacy in different contexts. For instance, the Informal network At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment Network (ARYSEN), focuses to enhance the advocacy capacities of CSOs service providers to allow for greater involvement in policymaking and to increase policymakers‘ awareness of the CSOs’ role in service provision. Advocating for LGBTI rights and fundamental freedoms, ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey, Serbia aims to improve the sustainability and resilience of the LGBTI movements. ConWeb – Network of national consumers’ organizations of South East Europe, on the other hand, aims to develop and promote an innovative CSO cooperation model with businesses through consumer-friendly certification services.

Lastly, there are also projects aimed at strengthening CSOs’ capacities. By exchanging experience on evidence-based advocacy and monitoring EU integration and reform agenda, the Association for regional cooperation Balkan Network for Local Democracy aims to create a regional CSOs cooperation and learning resource for advancing active citizenship at a local level.  SIGN – South Eastern European Indigenous Grant- makers Network aims to build knowledge and infrastructure for increased financial sustainability of CSOs and promote strategic giving and provision of support to all actors in the process. Finally, The informal network of organizations for improving the role of civil society in the implementation of palliative care represented by “BELhospice” strives to enhance CSO’s role in the implementation of palliative care and protection of human rights of patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

We are pleased that through the Hub, we can support collaborative actions for protecting and further expanding the civic space in our region and, and we can support other CSOs to be more influential, and accountable actors contributing towards the positive and sustainable development of our societies.

For more information about the hub and the grantees’ projects, read HERE.


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