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Who is responsible? – Public campaign for improvement of transparency and accountability of public institutions responsible for environmental protection and management of natural resources in Southwest Serbia

From July 2015 to August 2016 NGO “Prijatelji Brodareva” implemented a project called “Responsible to yourself – towards a more accountable and transparent natural resources management in Southwest Serbia”, financed through the ETNAR project sub-granting scheme. One of the key objectives of the project was to improve transparency and accountability of public institutions responsible for […]

From July 2015 to August 2016 NGO “Prijatelji Brodareva” implemented a project called “Responsible to yourself – towards a more accountable and transparent natural resources management in Southwest Serbia”, financed through the ETNAR project sub-granting scheme.

One of the key objectives of the project was to improve transparency and accountability of public institutions responsible for environmental protection and management of natural resources in the region, and to that end a public campaign named “Who is responsible?” was started. Lack of transparency results in low quality of administrative and policy measures and it opens the space for corruption and growing mistrust between citizens and public authorities.

In order to fill this information gap, the campaign produced a fact sheet called “Who is who” for all five municipalities from Southwest Serbia included in this project (Arilje, Bajina Bašta, Užice , Priboj, Prijepolje). It contains information and official data on responsibility of the local authorities for environment and natural resources management, contacts of responsible administrative units and short instructions for the interested public on how to approach them. It will bring the citizens closer to public administration bodies and will provide the CSOs with a useful tool for securing a bigger impact on policy makers. The fact sheet was disseminated to all relevant stakeholders in said municipalities, including members of the local CSOs and representatives of local authorities.

Another important issue the campaign tried to address was the problem of (un)sustainable management of natural resources in the region, particularly water and biomass. These resources could potentially become a generator of local development, but they could also become a new playground for maladministration, social tension and conflict if managed in unsustainable and nontransparent way.

To address these problems, a brochure titled “Forests and water as natural resources – Strategic and normative framework” – was also produced and distributed to all relevant stakeholders. It provides information on the legal framework, division of  responsibilities between central and local levels of government, as well as the role of public utilities in management of natural resources.

Another important source of information to the interested public is the online database “Water resources and protected natural resources of Zlatibor region”. Started during the first round of ETNAR sub-grants (project called “Public advocacy campaigns of civil society organization for sustainable using of natural recourses in Southwest Serbia”), it contains information on ground water, watercourses, protected natural areas and existing accumulations (for water supply and energy purposes). During the current project the database was visually enhanced and will continue to be regularly updated in the future.

Although there is still much to be done when it comes to awareness raising and sustainable management of natural resources in the region, this campaign and its accompanying publications represent an important starting point and a useful resource material for any future work on these issues.

13.09.2016.