An ideal local government can inspire and lead communities to make them better places to live. The best way to achieve this is to bring decision-making as close as possible to those who benefit from it and find new ways to strengthen people's involvement in finding local solutions.
This ideal brings together countries of the Western Balkan region that aspire to create responsive and accountable public administration. An administration that would meet the needs of citizens and civil society and better respond to challenges within local communities. This is why we joined the forces and created a Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD) to address the common issues, such as the lack of collaboration between local governments and civil society organisations (CSO) and the lack of transparency in financing of CSOs.
Overall objective of the ReLOaD is to strengthen participatory democracies and the EU integration process in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society to actively take part in decision making and by stimulating an enabling legal and financial environment for civil society. This 10 million euro worth regional programme is financed by the EU and implemented by UNDP in: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
At the official launch of ReLOaD programme that took place in Podgorica, ambassador Aivo Orav, Head of EU Delegation to Montenegro said that: “CSOs are vital partners for decision-makers, as they are among the best placed actors to know population's needs and to advocate for changes. At the same time, municipalities are the first level of government on which citizens rely daily. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the cooperation between these two stakeholders is good.” He also reminded that the EU noted in its 2016 Report that Montenegro needs to establish a sustainable and efficient system of public funding for CSOs and an appropriate institutional and legal framework.
Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro said that: “ReLOaD programme will initially work with five selected municipalities in Montenegro to adopt a transparent model for funding CSOs and NGOs. The model will be demonstrated through funding concrete projects, that will deliver concrete development results, based on citizens’ preferences and needs. The programme will also offer a regional platform for networking, between state and NGO actors, to share their experience and lessons learned in providing better services to citizens.”
“Establishing efficient and transparent administration, tailored to the needs of citizens, is one of the biggest challenges as we strive towards meeting the standards and quality of life of EU member states. Despite numerous efforts under the public administration reform in Montenegro, still a lot remains to be done to create public administration that will be at full service to the citizens,” concluded Jadranka Vukcevic, Director-General of the Directorate for Local Self-governments at the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro.
An open call for selection of five partner municipalities is now available on UNDP Montenegro website, with 26th of May as the deadline for application.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244(1999) and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence