The 10th edition of the Black Sea NGO Forum took place between the 4th-6th of December 2017 in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova and was organised by the Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND, with the financial support of the European Commission, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme – Regional Hub for Europe and the CIS and CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – CPDE.
This year’s anniversary edition aimed at reassessing the strategic positioning of the Black Sea NGO Forum in the region and how it can adapt and further develop the opportunities it provides for the CSOs in the Black Sea Region, in order to enable sustainable regional cooperation.
The event opened with welcome remarks from Mr. Ștefan Cibian, President of the Romanian NGDO Platform – FOND and Ms. Tatiana Molcean, State Secretary for Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation, Ministry of the Republic of Moldova.
In order to highlight the importance of NGOs and their hard work in the Black Sea Region, the first plenary session entitled “The Power of NGOs: Success stories of partnerships and sustainability” invited NGO representatives to discuss about their experience working in and for the non-profit sector in the region and the way in which they have identified and approached the common opportunities and challenges throughout time. Speeches were delivered by Ms. Gayane Mkrtchyan, Program Director, Eurasia Partnership Foundation Armenia, Ms. Angela Achiței, President, “Close to You” Romania Foundation, Ms. Natia Pirashvili, Project Manager/ Anti-Corruption Practitioner, AGG, Georgia and Mr. Ion Manole, President, Promo-LEX Association, Republic of Moldova. Moreover, the session benefited from the presence of Ms. Lisbeth Pilegaard, Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee, European Endowment for Democracy, who highlighted a few recommendations for NGOs working in the region, as well as the Black Sea NGO Forum to further develop their activities in the challenging and dynamic regional context.
The Formal Opening Session of the Forum was moderated by Mr. Ștefan Cibian, FOND President and we were honoured to have as main guest speakers H.E. Amb. Peter Michalko, Head of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Moldova, H.E. Amb. Traian Chebeleu, Deputy Secretary-Secretary General of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Ms. Olivia Toderean, Director at the Directorate for Analysis and Policy Planning, Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Justin Kilcullen, European Representative, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – CPDE. Moreover, at the beginning of the opening session, a video message was addressed by Mr. Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
The event gathered throughout the three days 152 participants from 13 countries, the majority from the Black Sea Region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey), and a few from the Balkans (Albania, Serbia and FRY Macedonia).
With the occasion of reaching such an important milestone – 10 editions – the Evaluation Report of the Black Sea NGO Forum for the editions between 2012-2016 was presented by Dr. Kerry Longhurst, Jean Monnet Professor at Collegium Civitas from Warsaw and Visiting Professor, College of Europe from Natolin.
The Report “The Black Sea NGO Forum: A decade on – Evaluation, Impact and Perspectives 2017” emphasized that the Black Sea NGO Forum successfully fulfils its goal of fostering regional cooperation by focusing on horizontal cooperation in specific thematic issues of common interest. The participants greatly appreciate the Forum for being a bottom-up, civil society-led initiative and for maintaining its neutrality which enables the engagement of civil society representatives from both the Eastern Partnership countries, as well as Russia and Turkey.
The evaluation report also highlighted several recommendations for further developing the Black Sea NGO Forum initiative, while at the same time emphasizing the necessity of a stronger involvement of all stakeholders from the region and outside it.
In the second day of the event, Ms. Cristina Rigman, Secretary-General, ChildPact – The Regional Coalition for Child Protection together with Ms. Olivia Baciu, Senior Advisor and Technical Lead, Partners Global facilitated the interactive sessions dedicated to its working groups, covering the thematic priorities set out in the “Strategic Framework for Civil Society Cooperation in the Black Sea Region” (youth, culture & education, civic engagement, anti-corruption, knowledge for development, youthbanks, human rights & freedoms, sustainable development, media & communications and networking), as well as two newly proposed themes (trust & confidence building and local & rural development).
In the last part of the day, participants had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of 6 of the most active local non-governmental organisations from Chisinau and discuss with their representatives, find out more about their projects and identify points of common interest. This activity was included in response to the feedback received from participants at the previous editions and aimed at facilitating networking, sharing best practices and regional partnerships.
The third day of the event followed the recommendation of participants from the Evaluation Report, and thus included an interactive world-café with donors – a new methodology applied for the first time at the Forum which allowed donors and civil society representatives to interact freely, ask questions on each other’s activities, priorities and needs.
The second part of the day included plenary session organised by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – CPDE which aimed to inform organisations from the Black Sea Region on global processes (particularly on the Sustainable Development Goals and development effectiveness), as well as make the regional concerns and priorities known at global level.
Photos taken during the event are available at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BlackSeaNGOForum/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1517545958282443 .
The presentations made during the event will be uploaded shortly on our website, together with other resource materials, and the final report of the event will be available in the upcoming weeks.