Introductory training for networks supported by the ECO SYSTEM programme

Young Researchers of Serbia organized an introductory training for supported networks within the third cycle of the ECO SYSTEM programme. Training took place in Vrnjačka Banja from June 25th to June 29th and gathered representatives of 10 networks that deal with environmental protection. Approved projects will be implemented by the end of 2023.

First day of the training was reserved for networking and presenting project’s activities per network. In the following days, during the workshops led by experts and members of the ECO SYSTEM team, the participants had the opportunity to gain new knowledge and become more familiar with the methodology for monitoring the implementation of environmental policies in local communities in Serbia, as well as guidelines for efficient and successful management of their projects.

During workshops held by experts, best practices from various European cities in the energy efficiency field were shared, confirming the importance of the value of effective communication between local self-governments and decision-makers. Furthermore, through various examples during sessions it was shown that only systematically approach to environmental reforms by the government can lead to results.

Participants also got insight into how investigative journalism covered stories connected to Serbia’s protected areas and the issues local communities and citizens encountered when the law wasn’t applied. Once more, value of collaboration between civil society organizations and the community in providing the support and raise issues from the local to the national level was highlighted, as well as the necessity of open communication and visibility of organizations’ activities. Special focus of the training was given to the role of gender in environmental protection, as well as the ways in which the gender perspective will be addressed in ECO SYSTEM projects.

Last day of the training was saved for the study tour of Vrnjačka Banja. Participants got an insight into what local organization of civil society managed to achieve for its community. Activists shared their experience and how effective they were in pointing out the importance of preserving the protected natural resources area. Their personal enthusiasm supported by reliable and verified information encouraged citizens to get involved, which once more showed how dedication is important when it comes to boosting environmental reforms and establishing cooperation with local communities.

The training was rated as very dynamic and educational, providing space for networking between organizations. Many useful guidelines were presented on how to analyse local policies more successfully, how civil society organizations can increase their visibility, and how to bring their activities to the national level. The importance of synergy and networking, both at the territorial and thematic levels was highlighted, which shall bring to dynamic exchange of information and mutual support in campaigns and local activities.

These activities are part of the ECO SYSTEM programme implemented by the Young Researchers of Serbia and supported by Sweden.