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SMART Balkans – Civil Society for Shared Society in the Western Balkans

Center for Civil Society Promotion (CPCD), together with partner organizations from Albania – Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) and North Macedonia – Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), is implementing a project named SMART Balkans – Civil society for shared society in the Western Balkanswhich contributes to strengthening participatory democracies and Euro Atlantic integrations in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society organizations and CSO networks for stronger and active role in creating peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

Project is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a grant worth more than 17 million EUR (34 million BAM).

Center for Civil Society Promotion signed a contract with Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 6 December 2021.


Why shared society in the Western Balkans?

Region of Western Balkans has been marked by mass departures of its population in the past few years. Bad perspective for youth, widespread corruption on all levels of government, low living standard and political instability are just some of the challenges that people in the region are facing. Many are unable to find a job they educated themselves for until they leave their homeland, and when they do, they are aided by other people from Western Balkans abroad. So, a question arises – if we can cooperate abroad, why not at home? The answer is in lack of interest from those responsible for creating a better life for common people. Divided society is a society easily manipulated and with very little competence. That is why it is a duty of civil sector in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia to be that link between the countries that will enable us to be as successful at home as we are abroad, and thus build a foundation for a better future for all of Western Balkans.

Topics covered by the project:

  • Capacity building and encouraging a more active role of CSOs
  • Creation of regional partnerships between CSOs
  • Increase of citizen influence on decision-making through CSOs, resulting in increased security, stability and governance in the region of Western Balkans
  • Raising awareness about the importance of active participation of civil sector in important development initiatives

Main focus of the project is distribution of more than 450 grants, CSO capacity building and campaigning, all related to following topics:

  • Strengthening of participatory democracy
  • Security and Stability
  • Good Governance
  • Euro-Atlantic integration process support

In order to include a large number of quality associates, more than 600 CSOs across the Western Balkans will receive support in capacity building, mentoring as well as technical and financial support via project grant scheme. These activities will focus on some of the challenges CSOs in the region are facing, such as low capacity and exclusion issues, poor information flows, lack of resources, and many more. Also, lack of citizens’ awareness about their ability to influence changes is one of the key issues in countries of Western Balkans. Therefore, raising awareness about the importance of citizen participation in democratic processes is one of the key aspects of the project which will build a foundation for further strengthening of participatory democracy.

The project has 7 types of grants: