Looking beyond ACHIEVE

November 22, 2017 | By Rezart Kapedani

Albanian environmental civil society has begun to occupy more media place and the social life of the country through the protection of a number of strong environmental causes. Its efforts to stop the negative impact of hydroelectric power in rivers, the non-threat of protected areas from major tourism investments, or the monitoring of the implementation of environmental laws on pollution or illegal logging are just some of the most frequently heard actions that group large numbers of environmental activists.

On 22nd November 2017, the Regional Environmental Center (REC) Albania held in Tirana the closing activity of the project "Civil Society for a European Environment “ACHIEVE", funded by the European Union and implemented by REC Albania.

The activity was conceived not only as a conclusion and disclosure of the results of this project, but also as a conversation between civil society organizations benefiting from the project regarding the main challenges facing civil society and who may be the further steps to be taken by society civilian and its supporters for improving the situation.

Mr. Mihallaq Qirjo, Director of REC Albania emphasized that the role of civil society in the development and maturation of democracy in Albania is not only indispensable but also inevitable. It is often the case that civil society organizations are faced with the lack of response by state institutions, the lack of necessary information or various pressures to abandon their causes. Through the ACHIEVE program and a range of other similar programs, REC has supported their voice to be strong, organized and professional.

In his greeting speech to Mr. Kai Nagel, EU Environment Program Manager, stressed the importance of civil society in addressing environmental challenges and identifying violations in the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation. This year's innovation was also the most structured contribution of environmental civil society regarding the drafting of the EU Annual Report for Albania in relation to chapter 27.

Project Manager ACHIEVE, Rezart Kapedani focused on the overall project outcomes. Despite the difficulties that the project began as a project of innovation in supporting the society, he achieved his expectations. There has been a very good involvement of civil society (145 CSOs involved) and 39 organizations have benefited financial support for the implementation of their activities. CSOs have also managed to produce sound analyzes of legislation gaps, practical monitoring of its implementation, and many activities involving the community, young people and the implementation of new ideas. 20 capacity-building activities were organized by REC Albania for beneficiaries of the program.

With regard to future issues, in four roundtables, project beneficiaries and contributors discussed about improving CSO cooperation with state authorities (central and local government), lack of expertise in environmental CSOs, CSO involvement small issues in regional affairs and national programs and sustainability of CSOs and their link with the local community.