LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CSOs COMMITTED TO STRONGER COOPERATION THROUGH PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
Within the frame of the project ”Strengthening local participation and cooperation through partnership of Public Authorities and CSOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina – LINK 4 Cooperation” funded by the European Union, first Forum for sharing best practices of CSOs and LAs cooperation was held in Zavidovići today.
In addition to representatives of the international community and donors, the Forum was attended by representatives of local authorities and CSOs from Berkovici, Jablanica, Kostajnica, Maglaj, Mostar, Nevesinje, Novi Grad, Prijedor, Ravno, Trebinje, Zavidovici and Zepce, who jointly identified specific challenges of cooperation and expressed readiness to find optimal solutions to strengthen cooperation.
Gianluca Vannini, Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Co-operation of Delegation of European Union to BiH emphasized the importance and specificity of the process of cooperation between civil society organizations and local authorities, emphasizing that:
“The path to effective local government requires a long-term vision, focused on sincere respect for the needs of citizens and the civil society sector. Building trust must be a priority. Strengthening participatory processes and a strategic approach are two prerequisites for successful reform.”
The main event of the Forum was the launch of the ELoGE program of the Council of Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina designed to support communities in their quest to improve their local government, to be implemented in 12 cities and municipalities. The aim is to conduct self-assessments of these cities and municipalities in accordance with the 12 principles of good democratic governance. The first ELoGE accredited platform in BiH, consisting of representatives of the project consortium, will be continuously available to cities and municipalities in the process of self-assessment in the coming months.
Having in mind the importance of starting such a process, Bojana Urumova, Head of the Council of Europe / Europe Office in BiH, addressed the audience via video link, stating:
“In a year when Bosnia and Herzegovina is celebrating 20 years of membership in the Council of Europe, it is gratifying to see that local organizations such as LDA Mostar have the capacity to work to improve the quality of local democracy. In cooperation with the Center for Expertise in Good Governance of the Council of Europe, I am convinced that the 12 local communities participating in this program will improve governance processes at the local level. The Council of Europe, through a new Action Plan for the period 2022-2025 continues to support the development of democracy, work transparency and the involvement of citizens in the decision-making processes.”
Niall Sheerin, Programme manager, Centre of Expertise for Good Governance, Directorate General of Democracy – DGII of the Council of Europe, who also addressed the participants of the Forum via video link, underlined:
“The Council of Europe exists to protect and promote European standards in human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Link4Cooperation Project offers a vector to promote the Council of Europe’s 12 Principles of Good Democratic Governance through the ELoGE programme. In making a commitment to apply the ELoGE Benchmark, municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are agreeing to measure their performance against each of the 12 Principles thereby raising awareness of and provoking a reflection on their own democratic governance practice.”
Having in mind ALDA’s recent experience of launching the ELoGE program in Croatia and North Macedonia and the importance of establishing such a process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), addressed the Forum participants emphasizing:
”The European Label of Governance Excellence, or ELoGE, is a programme with the intention of supporting municipalities in the pursuit of improved local self-government, making it more responsive to the needs of citizens and further enabling citizen participation. ELoGE uses the 12 principles of good governance as a benchmark to facilitate this goal, assisting interested municipalities with implementation and evaluation.”
Considering the importance of participatory processes as a key factor in the development and stability of local democracy, Dženana Dedić, director of the Local Democracy Agency Mostar, pointed out:
”Creating a new positive environment based on the common interest of living in a common space, and building trust among all actors in the local community, sets positive trends and brings progress. Local authorities that use resources and opportunities to adopt new tools and mechanisms of good local government, with the citizens as their partners, will create prosperous local communities.”
Hašim Mujanović, Municipality of Zavidovići Mayor and the Forums’ co-host underlined the importance of commitment to continuously improve public services and achieving more efficient and responsible management:
”Municipality of Zavidovići is always ready to take part in projects aimed at promoting good governance of local governments.”, and added, ”Together with civil society organizations, we are ready to strengthen the capacities of local authorities, solve problems together, and want to further strengthen the connection with citizens by involving them in the public policy process. Applying the principles of the ELoGE methodology for good governance, we are convinced that our local government unit will have the opportunity to offer better public services and solutions that will meet the needs of all our citizens.”
“LINK 4 Cooperation” project aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and civil society organizations in conducting participatory processes in order to jointly identify specific problems of communities and, thanks to a participatory approach, find the best solutions. The project consortium consists of the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Prijedor, the Center for the Development of Herzegovina (CRH), the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), and associate partner ALDA Skopje. Implementation began on January 1, 2021 and will last until December 31, 2023. Its value is over 540,000 EUR, of which the European Union provided over 490,000 EUR in grants.
For more information on project, please visit: www.link4cooperation.ba.