BCSDN strategic approach to capacity building is to strengthen the capacity and skills of CSOs for advocacy towards improving the environment in which CSOs operate, to strengthen the effectiveness of CSOs by improving their accountability, as well as to share information on the existing civil society related policies and programmes on European and national level.

In 2019 BCSDN  started with new programme Protecting Civic Space- Regional Civil Society Development Hub supported by Sida– the Swedish development policy that will be implemented in the following two years. The regional civil society development hub will aim to enhance the cooperation and resilience of CSOs in the Western Balkan countries, by connecting and empowering them in innovative uptakes of the enabling environment and their practices of accountability. The programme will strive to contribute to a conducive environment for civil society development that enables CSOs to be influential actors in the society; to support effective, transparent and accountable CSOs that contribute in protecting civic space and to Strengthen regional cooperation for promoting civic space through the Civil Society Development Fund. As part of the Hub’s multi-country action component, BCSDN has recently awarded 10 grants to Western Balkans Initiatives that will support CSOs becoming influential and accountable actors, fostering policy dialogue, including citizens’ decision-making; will strengthen their advocacy, and capacities, etc. With the ad-hoc mechanism, the Hub is calling for rapid CSOs’ funding in the form of immediate needs or innovation. It responds through direct expert support or funding for regional actions addressing some challenging situation when there is no other support available. The call is open by the end of 2021 until all available funds are disbursed.

As part of the efforts towards improving CSO effectiveness and accountability, BCSDN has been identified as the 9th partner of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability initiative. Over the period of three years, the project brought together nine Project Partners to exchange expertise for building and promoting a Global Standard which captures a globally shared, dynamic understanding of accountability. BCSDN in the second extension phase of the Global Standard implementation (2018-2021) focused on relations with national CSOs from the Balkan region that learned, tested and implemented dynamic accountability tools. It provided an ad hoc support to organizations and networks that worked on improving their accountability practices. BCSDN, in the third extension phase (2021-2022) of the project implementation, will continue improving its internal accountability practices identified as weak accountability points through the accountability report of 2020, which will allow further alignment with the Global Standard. BCSDN will provide further support and mentorship to CSOs to improve their accountability practices in Albania and North Macedonia as countries in focus. Regional networks of CSOs, BCSDN sub-grantees, as part of the Regional Civil Society Development Hub, will be introduced with the Global Standard and trained on the concept of dynamic accountability and will have a chance to assess their internal accountability practices.

BCSDN has stepped up its contribution to the global development movement, serving as a secretariat for the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) for the Europe region as of 2019. CPDE is an open platform that unites civil society voices from around the world to contribute towards improved development cooperation and effectiveness. As of October 2020, BCSDN started performing the role of focal point for the Europe Region within CPDE implementing a three-year programme “Strengthening development partnerships for contributing to more sustainable development in Europe and beyond”. The programme if funded by the EU, SIDA and ADA.

BCSDN through the program “Sustainable Civil Society – State Financing of CSOs” distributed 5 grants for Macedonian CSO networks. The program is implemented by the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) in partnership with BCSDN and CNVOS from Slovenia during the period 2018-2021. The program is funded by the EU. The objective of the call is to enable the capacity building of CSO networks for transparent and accountable work.

Aiming to strengthen CSOs’ skills to contribute in creating an enabling environment, from May 2017 until April 2018 BCSDN is implemented the project “Protecting Civic Space“, with a focus on exchange of best practices and standards for accountability. With this action, BCSDN aims to familiarize CSOs with the best practices and mechanisms for monitoring the environment in which CSOs operate, and to introduce accountability standards, namely the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, in order to raise CSO’s transparency and accountability levels which will result in increasing their legitimacy and trust from citizens, donors and policy makers. 

The pilot phase ran between September 2011 and October 2012 and covered 3 countries: Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. Since 2011, two more calls were opened, one in 2013 and another in 2015, following the same scheme of support activities. With the 2013 call, 21 project proposals were selected for funding. The third Call for Proposals was announced in April 2015, this time within the scope of the IPA FPA Balkan Civil Society Acquis project, with a specific objective to contribute to the capacity building of CSOs in IPA countries in monitoring and advocating on civil society-related policies covered by the Monitoring Matrix areas or the Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in the Enlargement Countries, 2014-2020. 

In 2012, BCSDN together with the Pontis Foundation from Slovakia, and financially supported by SlovakAid, has established a Fund aimed at supporting young researchers and CSOs to strengthen their advocacy skills and capacity to engage in influencing EU civil society related programmes. Through providing small grants to local organisations and individuals with civil society background for implementation of research and advocacy projects, BCSDN aims to strengthen civil society’s capacities for involvement in reform processes and the public debate on the accession process.

[This activity is in accordance with Priority 4 (ITo strengthen CSO capacities  and their place in functioning democracies) from BCSDN Strategic Outlook 2017-2020 ]

What to expect

  • Grants to support CSO networks to improve their transparency and accountability
  • Continuous promotion of Global Standard for CSO Accountability
  • Promotion and dissemination of RendirApp and the Global Standard self-assessment tool on CSO transparency and accountability
  • Sharing experience and good practice with members
  • Development of accountability framework for implementation of BCSDN Code of Conduct