October 27, 2016, EU Info Centre, Skopje
The conference is part of the project “Challenges and obstacles faced by the small water systems in rural Macedonia and Romania” supported by the German Agency for Environmental Protection.
Key points of the conference were related to the Sustainable Development Goals and water and sanitation as a prerequisite for development of the municipalities, gender aspect in relation to access to water and sanitation in the rural areas, the situation with access to water and sanitation from technical and medical point of view, water and sanitation as a basic human right, presentation of the report on the situation of access to water and sanitation in 3 rural municipalities in Macedonia and the need for a regulatory body for water. Additionally, participants discussed the need for clean water and sanitation as a prerequisite for a healthy generation and sustainable agriculture
The Conference was concluded with several recommendations for further steps, including establishment of a coordinating body for information regarding problems with drinking water and sanitation, improvement of the current situation in terms of water pollution, specifically with the situation of water pollution after the summer floods in Skopje.
Representatives of the ENV. net team in Macedonia used the opportunity to promote the work of ENV.net, focusing on the Monitoring Matrix and its contribution to collecting information from the Balkan countries and Turkey on the transposition of EU environmental acquis into the national legislation and their implementation, accentuation the water sector.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media have a critical role to play in building a culture of good environmental governance and accountability, on national, but also on a wider regional level. By providing accurate, balanced and timely information that is of interest and relevance to the public, both CSOs and the media should act as watchdogs and advocate for changes that would ensure good environmental governance.
There are five major roles that civil society in the Balkan region and Turkey should play to ensure better environmental governance:
- Collecting, disseminating, and analysing information;
- Assessing environmental legislation and monitoring compliance with EU environmental agreements
- Providing input to policy development processes;
- Linking diverse key stakeholders (civil society, governments, media, and citizens);
- Advocating for environmental reforms
CSOs and other civil society groups are not only stakeholders in governance but also a driving force behind greater national and regional cooperation when it comes to protection of the environment. However, in practice, due to a number of challenges preventing civil society (and media) engagement, they have played a limited role as there are significant gaps between the rhetoric and practice of states’ policy on openness, transparency, and accountability when it comes to good environmental governance.
In a form of a public interview, CSO representatives (grantees from both ENV.net calls) from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey, discussed about their experience regarding the three leading questions:
- How civil society can better represent citizen’s interests and drive the environmental reform agenda through more effective advocacy, monitoring, and activism
- And again, do the media (and CSOs) fulfil their “public service” role?
- How successful are the CSOs and the media in providing useful and reliable data, and objective news and information on the environment?
General conclusion was that even though environment (due to the current situation with political and refugee crises, poverty and social challenges, similar in all countries in the region), might not be the number one issue today, civil society and the media should continue playing their roles and advocating for environmental reforms for better tomorrow for all.
- Albania: Arion Sauku – NGO Milieukontakt Albania
- Serbia: Zorica Stevanovic – NGO Protecta
- Turkey: Batur Avgan
- Kosovo: Nehat , NGO Let’s Do It Kosova, ,
- Macedonia: Lence Janakiev Cicimova, NGO Planetum
- Macedonia: Aneta Risteska – NGO Lice v lice
- Montenegro: Masa Tomkovic , NGO Green Home
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Medina Garic, NGO LIR Evolution