Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
NGO and Partnership Fund in Slovenia
The NGO Block Grant strenghtens civil society in Slovenia, and the Partnership Block Grant gives the opportunity to exchange knowledge and expereinces among Swiss and Slovenian entities.
Strengthening civil society
- 42 projects implemented: 23 NGO-projects (12 environmental, 11 social) and 19 partnership projects
- 80 people employed for the project implementation period
- Final Event in Ljubljana with the participating organizations and the general public
- National State Institute North
In Slovenia, there are over 20,000 NGOs, mostly organized in associations. The employment rate in the NGO sector in extremely low; the sector is mostly based on voluntarism. Slovenian membership in the EU has not generated the benefits expected for the NGO sector. At first sight, the NGOs have new opportunities and sources, but in reality they are unable to compete successfully at the European level due to limited resources, lack of knowledge and capacity, and inadequate preparation in the recent years. Besides the lack of financial and human resources, there are also other obstacles to successful NGOs operation like weak NGO movement on local and national level, inappropriate recognition of the NGO role in society, inappropriate tax policies, and other legal issues especially related to the public-service status, and underdeveloped NGO participation in the decision-making processes.
There are more than 200 municipalities established in Slovenia. The municipalities are organised in two main umbrella organisations. On the regional level, the municipalities coordinate their development and decided on regionally important projects and activities with the support of regional administration.
The programme allows to strenghten civil society in Slovenia, as well as to establish stronger partnership relations among Slovenian and Swiss entities.
Specific objectives are to enable successful implementation of the projects granted within the NGO and partnership Block Grants, and to raise applicant's skills in project management cycle.
Slovenian NGOs and Slovenian non-for-profit organisations
Small projects from the NGOs, as well as small joint projects from Slovenian and Swiss partners, shall be selected and supported after a call for project proposals. Potential applicants and project implementers shall be provided with technical assistance.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Foreign state institution
Consortium of the Regional En-vironmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Slovenia and Pitija consulting
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 3'226'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 2'944'927|
Phase 1 01.04.2010 - 31.12.2014 (Completed)
Research and knowledge transfer between Switzerland and Slovenia
A fund totalling approximately CHF 3.2 million has been set up in Slovenia to support civil society. Financed by this fund, the Slovenian Institute for Sustainable Development is implementing two small projects, one in the field of partnership and one in the NGO sector. Both these projects involve a Swiss organisation , the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).
The NGO and partnership fund in Slovenia finances small partnership projects between Slovenian and Swiss institutions, and enables Slovenian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in some cases with the assistance of Swiss NGOs, to carry out their own small projects.
In total, the fund is financing 43 small projects in Slovenia. 12 NGO projects relating to environmental and social issues plus 19 Swiss-Slovenian partnership projects were selected.
Partnership projects promote knowledge transfer
One such partnership project is intended to raise awareness among Slovenian schoolchildren. Many children nowadays have very little direct experience of sustainable agriculture, or indeed nature in general. This is no different in Slovenia. With their joint “Organic school gardens” project, the Slovenian Institute for Sustainable Development and FiBL are seeking to make the younger generation more aware of sustainable development.
The development of organic school gardens
The project began by establishing the level of interest at schools and kindergartens in having their own organic garden. Following this, the Institute for Sustainable Development ran seminars at 15 locations in Slovenia on how to develop an action plan and create and maintain such organic gardens. The participating schools and kindergartens then went on to put the knowledge acquired directly into practice. The Institute was on hand to provide advice, including via a dedicated project website. This resulted in the creation of a thematic network within Slovenia which currently encompasses 150 schools and kindergartens. A newsletter is used to keep schools informed on how the new school gardens can be incorporated into lessons.
More than just theory
According to Anamarija Slabe from the Institute for Sustainable Development, this project was widely welcomed by the general public. By producing their own food, the children learn in a practical way how nature, healthy eating and sustainable environmental practices interrelate. This small project, to which Switzerland is contributing around CHF 85,000,has already been completed. The Institute plans, however, to continue supporting and expanding the network and its activities.
Partnerships strenghten bilateral relations
The partnership funds set up under the auspices of Switzerland’s enlargement contribution facilitate the exchange of experience between institutions in the new EU member states and Swiss partners - in areas such as non-motorised transport, teacher training and biodiversity, for instance. The Swiss contribution to partnership funds for financing small projects is approximately CHF 25 million.
Switzerland possesses a great deal of knowledge in areas such as research and environmental protection, and in other fields too. Given the lack of experience of the partner countries in a wide range of areas (usually for historical reasons), Swiss organisations can consequently make a significant contribution to active knowledge transfer.
Focus on sharing experience
The partnership funds in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic support and foster institutional partnerships between Switzerland and the respective countries. These partnerships focus on sharing experience in the various fields. As a result, institutions and government agencies in the new EU member states can benefit from Swiss expertise and knowledge. This is also in Switzerland’s interests. Through the partnership funds, Switzerland is supporting around 280 small projects which will help solve concrete problems in the partner countries and improve the living conditions of their citizens. Only non-profit organisations are accepted as partners in both Switzerland and the partner countries, i.e. organisations that do not pursue any commercial interests through their participation in projects, such as foundations or associations. Public authorities such as municipalities or cantonal administrative bodies are also eligible to access these funds. Trade unions can also be admitted as partners. Town twinning is a traditional example of such a partnership.
First partnership projects already completed
For instance, Swiss expertise helped to implement a project to promote non-motorised transport in the Czech Republic. Another project concerned incorporating the rights of children in teacher training. As part of the Slovenian partnership fund, a joint research project to preserve biodiversity was implemented. In Poland the focus was placed on partnerships between towns and municipalities. For instance, Polish cities and municipalities can consult Swiss agencies in areas such as spatial planning and public transport.
Mutual benefits of cooperation
By expanding its horizons through establishing and maintaining long-term partnerships between public agencies and institutions, Switzerland also benefits from the mutual exchange of experience. Partnership projects allow Swiss partners to play an active role in reducing economic and social disparities between the new member states and the EU. Projects are submitted to the national institution nominated to manage the fund. A broad-based selection committee, on which Switzerland is also represented, decides which projects will be financed. The partnership funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution:
• will co-finance around 280 partnership projects;
• will create and foster institutional partnerships between public bodies in the new EU member states and Switzerland;
• will enable the exchange of specialist knowledge between the new EU member states and Switzerland to the benefit of all parties.
Strenghtening Civil Society
The Swiss enlargement contribution finances a support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO fund) in all partner countries except Malta. The purpose of these funds is to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the socioeconomic development of the respective countries. The total contribution to all NGO funds amounts to around CHF 66 million.
In the new member states of the EU, civil society is significantly more developed than it was at the beginning of the 1990s, but it is not yet as well developed as in the older member states. NGOs suffer from various shortcomings: for example, they are poorly integrated in society and have a weak financial and institutional base.
A strong NGO sector is essential for civil society
The funds for non-governmental organisations in all new EU member states except Malta provide essential support for civil society in these countries. This will result in the strengthening of the NGO sector and civil society in the respective countries. In particular, it is often the poorer and socially disadvantaged sections of the population who benefit from a well-developed range of services provided by NGOs.
NGOs – indispensable players
By formulating concepts and taking action (in relation to vulnerable groups, minorities, the environment
and culture), civil society strengthens the democratisation process. It also helps make government agencies more efficient by ensuring that they take better account of the concerns of the population.
This applies both to specific action taken at a local level and to advocacy at the regional and national level. NGOs thus often deal with a wide variety of issues in daily life. The NGO funds will be used in particular to support social welfare and environmental projects. More than half the approved projects will come under one of these two headings. Switzerland will however also fund projects in other areas, for instance the increased involvement of citizens in political decision making processes and cooperation between NGOs and local government. In some countries, the NGO fund programmes have already been completed or are about to be completed.
Swiss organisations offer valuable experience
Involving Swiss partners in projects enables NGOs to benefit from Swiss expertise. Overall, just under 20% of the projects will be implemented with Swiss involvement. Swiss expertise and experience is extremely valuable on a number of fronts for NGOs in partner countries which are often working in a new environment and therefore lack experience. For instance, Swiss NGOs can help their partners cooperate with the government, encourage young volunteers, or even help with bookkeeping. Swiss know-how enables organisations in the partner countries to implement efficient and effective projects directly, while making optimum use of their financial and human resources.
Targeted support for civil society is also in Switzerland’s interest
Thanks to partnerships with organisations in the partner countries, Swiss organisations are also able
to extend their networks and expertise. The mechanisms of the NGO funds favour these partnerships. Moreover, Switzerland also benefits from the activities of NGOs, as many aspects such as economic exchange, migration and environmental protection are interrelated and are of international and even global relevance in some cases.
The NGO funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution
• co-finance some 700 projects totalling CHF 66 million
• strengthen the NGO sector in the respective countries and consequently support civil society
• have also resulted in the creation of partnerships between foreign and Swiss organisations for around 150 small NGO projects
• is enabling projects primarily addressing social welfare and environmental issues, as well as other problem areas, to be implemented.