BCSDN strategic approach to monitor the environment in which civil society is functioning is to consolidate the existing research and knowledge in a consistent and applicative matrix defining the basic of a so-called Civil society Acquis and benchmarks/indicators of success, which should be used as shadow monitoring for CSOs, EU and as a self-assessment tool for Governments.
For 11 years in a row, BCSDN has been conducting research to better understand the environment for CSOs in the region, gathering relevant evidence to advocate for improved policies and practices towards civil society.
Together with members and experts, BCSDN has developed the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development (CSDev) – a tool for measuring the health of the legal, regulatory, and financial environment in which civil society organizations in the Western Balkans and Turkey operate.
Using the Matrix, BCSDN members, on an annual basis, are monitoring the enabling environment for CSDev, and more specifically these three areas: Basic Legal Guarantees of Freedoms; Framework for CSOs’ Financial Viability and Sustainability; Government – CSO Relationship. This monitoring exercise is used for (country-specific) advocacy activities aiming to provide consistent and continuous pressure to national Governments in the development and implementation of appropriate legislation in the area of CSDev. All national reports are compiled in a regional one aimed at international stakeholders and advocacy.
In 2024, with a revised methodology tailored to reflect contemporary trends and challenges, including the expansion of the digital civic space post-Covid-19, we aim for a deeper understanding of the CSO landscape. Our experience-based approach to monitoring ensures that all CSOs’ experiences are acknowledged and translated into concrete recommendations aimed at strengthening civil society and promoting democratic governance.
Recognizing the value of and parallels with the Monitoring Matrix, DG Enlargement/NEAR has been using BCSDN’s reports as a means of verifications for the Guidelines for EU Support to Civil Society in Enlargement Countries – an important strategic document of the European Commission to which development BCSDN has also contributed.
Since 2019, the Monitoring Matrix is supported by Regional Civil Society Hub, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
What to expect
- Launch of the new Monitoring Matrix online platform featuring enhancements to improve user-friendliness and visual appeal, along with revisions aligned with the updated MM methodology
- Regular monitoring activities as part of Civicus Monitor
- BCSDN’s Annual Report on Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey (based on monitoring reports of members and updates)