The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
Results Empowerment Change
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Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organisations (SECTOR) in Belarus and Moldova

Implementation period:
2012–2014

Financial support:
Government of Sweden

Supporting Environmental Civil Society Organisations (SECTOR) in Belarus and Moldova

“The SECTOR programme is one of the finest programmes that we have had the opportunity to take part in. The interlinked components created a captivating learning environment [and] the programme also boosted our creativity and enthusiasm.”

“Throughout the entire programme we got to know how it feels to communicate efficiently, have a healthy attitude towards work, receive constructive feedback, and be supported and trusted.”
SECTOR programme participant testimonials

Background
Environmental civil society organisations (CSOs) are important actors in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development in Belarus and Moldova.

For the purposes of this project, an environmental CSO is an officially registered organisation or an otherwise clearly identifiable group of citizens or other public association operating at local, regional and/or international level that:

  • does not act as an official governmental body;
  • is a not-for-profit entity (i.e. is non-commercial);
  • has a main purpose related to environmental protection and sustainable development; and
  • has a presence in public life, outside family structures, and expresses the interests and values of its members or others based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific or philanthropic considerations.

The main goal of the SECTOR project in Belarus and Moldova was to strengthen the role of environmental CSOs in the two countries by contributing to their development and improving their knowledge, skills, capacities and infrastructure.

This project was developed within the framework programme “Strengthening Local Environmental Planning and Environmental Civil Society in Belarus and Moldova during 2012–2014” (STREAM), implemented by the REC with the financial support of the Government of Sweden.

The main partners and project beneficiaries were CSOs at national and local community level in Belarus and Moldova. Secondary beneficiaries were national authorities, municipalities, businesses and, indirectly, the general public in the target countries.

Objectives and components
Project activities were implemented at local, national and regional level and provided a framework for longer‐term support for the environmental CSO sector in Belarus and Moldova. Activities were closely interlinked in order to help CSOs to develop and become stronger. The main objectives were to:

  • support the organisational development of CSOs, building their capacity to achieve long-term environmental impacts and sustainability, enabling them to become self-sustaining, improving their efficiency in implementing environmental projects, and introducing organisational changes that strengthen their impact in society;
  • enable CSOs to be more actively involved in dialogue with society and decision making on environmental and sustainable development issues;
  • help CSOs to promote sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles at different levels; and
  • strengthen CSO capacities and networking, as well as CSO interaction with governments and businesses at different levels.

SECTOR operated through the following components:

  • organisational development and viability;
  • grants and platform building;
  • capacity building and networking; and
  • the Green Steps toolkit.

These four interlinked components supported CSO initiatives and collaboration with authorities, communities and businesses via grants; built CSO capacities and strengthened national, regional and international networking via trainings and exchange programmes; and raised awareness through the implementation of an educational programme designed to activate citizens.

Organisational development and viability
The viability component helped CSOs to evaluate their organisational performance using a participatory approach that resulted in tailored organisational development plans.

The REC’s methodology for organisational self-assessment, the Organisational Viability Toolkit, was adapted for the specific context in Belarus and Moldova. Mentors for organisational change were trained and grants were awarded to enable CSOs to implement priority elements of their newly drafted development plans.

Grants and platform building
A total of EUR 1 million were distributed in the form of national, local and cooperative grants (57 in total) to support CSO initiatives and projects.

National grants were awarded to support public participation in decision making, awareness raising and media involvement, the promotion of clean technologies, and the provision of legal advice.

Local grants supported activities in the fields of education, organic agriculture, eco-tourism, green consumption, river protection and energy conservation. Grantees included environmental CSOs; trade unions; and church, women’s and youth organisations.

Capacity building
Trainings and exchange programmes were organised to build capacities and strengthen networking:

  • The three-week Young Environmental Leaders Programme (YEL!) targeted CSO activists, giving them skills to become drivers of environmental change.
  • A series of week-long master classes was given by local and international experts on advocacy, public participation, networking and green economy.
  • A study visit was organised to Estonia.

Green Steps
This multimedia toolkit aims to improve understanding among citizens of Belarus regarding sustainable lifestyles, environmental rights, and the changes that people can make in their everyday lives in order to contribute to sustainable development. The toolkit is aimed primarily at environmental activists, but will also be a valuable resource for educators, students and families.

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