IBPP: Civil Society and Local Initiatives

In 2002-2011 as an active support to civil society organisations in Russia, the EU, via its Delegation in Moscow, implemented the IBPP programme.

Over the last nine years the EU has funded over 190 projects totalling 41 mln EURO.

The overall aim of the Programme was to give a voice to a large variety of civil society organisations to enable them to fulfil their potential role in:

  • raising awareness and lobbying the authorities on various issues of concern;
  • playing a pro-active role in public oversight of decision making and policy planning;
  • creating links between non-state and state actors as well as between civil society organisations from the EU and Russia;
  • creating networks between likeminded organisations in order to increase lobbying capacity.

Projects were selected annually via an open call for proposals. Interested applicants had to apply in partnership, involving at least one organisation from Russia and one from the EU.

In 2011 the IBPP Programme was closed. For NGO funding opportunities, please, see Non-State Actors in Development Programme and European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

Specific priorities of the programme

Over the last couple of the programme years the specific priorities of the programme have significantly evolved and been reduced in quantity in order to prioritise certain areas of crucial importance, improve the focus of the programme as well as to increase percentage of applicants that receive EU funding.

The programme's limited resources and the sheer geographical size and population of Russia, demanded a clearer focus in order to achieve measurable results. Following an independent evaluation in 2006 and internal analyses of the programme’s benefits, the social sector was identified as the key focal area. This redesign is reflected in the Call for Proposals (CfP) 2007 and 2008 that focused on Children, Women and Youth. The CfP for 2009 was limited to Child Welfare and Disability. By concentrating on social NSA's the programme has been able to leverage the current government's commitment to improving social policy.

The EU also recognises that strengthening civil society requires alliance building among NSAs themselves and other key stakeholders. Since 2006 projects have been encouraged to include networking components. In the CfP 2009 there has been a shift away from pilot projects to supporting strategic platform development initiatives that meet urgent social needs.

Relevance and added value of the programme

IBPP has been a relevant instrument, which supported urgent issues through effective and innovative mechanisms. It actively contributed to the creation of a platform for discussion between the authorities and NGOs.

It filled in a niche for the kind of donor support that has not been offered by any other donor in Russia, as it offered civil society support in a broader range of sectors through comparatively large grants. Furthermore, the programme funded networking and information exchange activities, not addressed by other donors.

Many projects dealt with governance issues at the local level and have managed to build relationships of trust and mutual benefit with local authorities.

Many projects have yielded concrete results at a local level via an innovative approach to solving problems including "changing the mind" of local policy makers or filling a gap that the state is not yet ready to fill (examples include ID papers for homeless people, actions in favour of victims of domestic violence, ensuring children with disability have access to education etc.)

Major benefits

Projects created local benefit as they facilitated networking among people, many of whom worked on the same issue in different governmental and/or non-governmental institutions but had never met before and who realised the interconnection and interdependence between them.

The programme was most effective at oblast level and that fit well with a bottom up approach in terms of recognising that civil society cannot be created from above but has to grow in order to reach a critical mass of initiatives and stronger, more self-confident organisations.

The programme was demand oriented as documented by the high number of quality proposals received at each successive call for proposals.

Complementary activities in support of the programme and our partners

In addition to financing projects the EU also has been supporting its civil society partners by organising thematic events (conferences, roundtables) and capacity building trainings. In 2009 - 2011 events supported by the EU Delegation in Russia included:

  • Roundtables
"Business and Disability Best Practice" – a joint event with the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Russia and a group of EU funded disability NGOs.

"Improving Russian Legislation to make it compatible with the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities" – a joint event with Russian NGO "Perspektiva" and the Senior Human Rights Advisor of the UN Country Team in the Russian Federation

Conference "Taking Stock – Contribution of Civil Society Organisations to the Modernisation of Russian Social Service System (the case of the rights of the child and persons with disabilities)" brought together NGOs, regional authorities, EU and Russian donors, representatives of international organisations, Russian and international donors, State Duma.

  • Trainings

A key component of the work of our civil society partners is "awareness raising" on the importance of social rights and the effectiveness of social services-delivery by civil society actors and local authorities. In order to support this important activity three communications workshops were held in 2009 for current and former IBPP grantees. The workshops were designed to assist our partners in the development of effective communication and PR strategies.

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