Urgent needs and challenges highlighted at the consultation of representatives of civil organizations
On 10 January 2019, a consultation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) was initiated in Vilnius in the context of the EEA-Norway Financial Mechanism Programme “Active Citizens’ Fund” to obtain the most up-to-date and accurate data on the challenges of Lithuanian civil society and the needs of non-governmental organizations.
The consultation with CSO representatives was organized in Lithuania by the Financial Mechanism Office (FMB), the EEA-Norway Financial Mechanism Secretariat in Brussels and the “Active Citizens’ Fund” operator (the Joint Lithuanian Foundation, OSFL Projects and “Good Wishes Lt” team). Representatives of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Lithuania, the Ministry of Finance (National Co-ordinating Authority of the EEA-Norway Financial Mechanism) and the Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) participated as observers.
Representatives of 45 civil organizations from all over Lithuania were introduced to the structure and capabilities of the Active Citizens’ Fund (ACF) program and were invited to discuss the main challenges faced by CSOs in relation to ACF priorities and to look for possible solutions.
At the beginning of the meeting, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Lithuania Karsten Klepsvik stressed that “active civil society creates social mobilization and is a source of alternative opinions and information. It is civil society that is an essential element of a viable democracy, and sustainable development is impossible without it.” The Ambassador thanked all CSO representatives for agreeing to share their experiences and perspectives on how to make the ACF program in Lithuania important, purposeful and influential.
Civil society representatives dealing with such issues as active citizenship, poverty, the environment, education, human rights and civil society advocacy, working with young people, communities, different vulnerable groups, minority groups by activity, participated in groupwork and discussed the topics of civic participation, civil society advocacy / monitoring, human rights support and empowerment of vulnerable groups.
After the meeting, which lasted an entire work day, not only the most urgent challenges were identified, but also the necessary activities and specific capacity building needs of civil society organizations were proposed. These will be taken into account in the development of the ACF program in Lithuania in 2019-2024. Non-governmental organizations will receive 9 million euros over this period. Here is a summary of the main findings of the working groups.
Support for civil society is one of the key challenges in the EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism Support Priorities for 2014-2021, funded by Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway in 15 EU member states in Central and South Europe and the Baltic States. The ACF contributes to the overall objectives of the EEA-Norway Financial Mechanism to reduce economic and social disparities and to strengthen bilateral relations between beneficiaries and donor states. The ACF will seek to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of civil society organizations, strengthen its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights.