By Megan MacGarry
CIVICUS and the CSI team here at the Secretariat in Johannesburg are delighted to announce that Mariano De Donatis, the new Manager for the Convening Unit at CIVICUS, will be attending the upcoming Third edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum to be held on 21-23 October 2010 in Constanta, Romania. This will be hosted by the Romanian Federation of Development NGOs (FOND). The Black Sea NGO Forum was launched in 2008 by FOND and its partners throughout the region with support from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation in the framework of the Black Sea Synergy. It has continued in 2009 in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation.
The Forum aims at increasing the level of dialogue and coordination among NGOs, as well as strengthening the advocacy capacity for NGOs in order to influence development strategies in the region. It gathers NGOs from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, other EU member states and important actors in the wider Black Sea Region. The first two editions of the Forum knowledge that took place in this region, which is extremely complex from a political point of view, showed that cooperation among NGOs from the civil society represents a real potential for stability and prosperity in the wider Black Sea region.
The 2010 agenda will dedicate a space for sharing governmental actors, international institutions and donors’ perspectives, assessments and experiences, introducing their programs and interacting with NGO representatives in the search of common solutions to regional and local problems.
There are two specific sessions on the Forum’s agenda that will be of specific interest for the CSI partners and researchers. These two sessions will be continuing work that was started by various Black Sea Region CSI partners who held a very interactive session at the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) that took place in July in Istanbul, Turkey. This was led by TUSEV from Turkey, a current and former CSI implementer, along with numerous other Black Sea representatives, both CSI active or non, all supported by the Black Sea Trust, a part of the German Marshall Fund.
At the upcoming NGO Forum, various partners from this original workshop will also continue the work started in Istanbul, with various other CSI partners attending the Forum.
Numerous previous and current CSI country implementers are planning two separate events as a follow up to the Istanbul event:
1) Open space panel on “Democracy and Citizen Participation” to discuss and work on an action plan / collection of regional cooperation ideas for the “Civic Participation” dimension of our exercise in Istanbul.
2) Open space panel on “Challenges for the Independence of the Civil Society” panel where we can work on “Government – Civil Society Relations” dimension by suggesting some additional topics.
Mariano will be participating in these events, to lead on issues of CSI implementation, but also to follow on the very interesting Black Sea regional discussions and developments that are currently occurring. There is scope for new and exciting partnerships and networks to emerge from these discussions and interactions throughout the Forum. We both in the CSI team and CIVICUS, look forward to feedback and insights that will emerge as a result of this exciting and in-depth regional event. We congratulate our partners on this initiative and wish all participants of the Forum the best of luck in their upcoming discussions and interactions to take place over the next few days.