Together for Nature and the Environment – the name of the new help manual for citizens who want to react, warn and suggest changes for a cleaner and a healthy living environment. By presenting a handbook in Split and Knin, we officially completed a two-year project of the same name and motivated citizens for inclusion in the processes of nature and environment protection which have increasingly filled up presentation halls.
Participation of the public in processes at local levels related to environmental conservation and sustainable development is a fundamental precondition for the feasibility and effectiveness of local government decisions. In order for the public to participate timely, it must be accurate and timely informed. With this project, we wanted to point out the usefulness and importance of cooperation between the public and local authorities in various environmental related processes as well as present possible cooperation models. The activities of the project “Together for Nature and the Environment” as well as the introduction of new models of cooperation improved the participation of civil society organizations and citizens in the local communities of the four Dalmatian counties and improved the local environmental and sustainable development policy.
Within the project, we have successfully developed innovative models and tools for public participation:
– an interactive web map of Split – Sinjaj.hr through which citizens can directly contact local government to environmental problems in the city,
– Environmental Advisory Councils in the City of Split and Šibenik-Knin County and
– cooperative councils for nature parks of Lastovo and Telašćica, which participated in the development of sustainable tourism plans for these areas.
The work results of the council, as well as the interactive website Sinjaj.hr, are presented in the manual as well as recommendations for all those who like models and tools they want to run in their local communities. The Manual, besides the practical examples, also contains a chapter devoted to the right environment and legal aspects related to public participation in environmental protection. The international legal framework in the field of environmental protection is the Arhus Convention, based on the three pillars principle – access to information, public participation and access to justice. In this manual two legal cases were successfully presented and completed by the Sunce Association.
Apart from the work of the Council and the interactive map of Sinjaj.hr on the usefulness and importance of cooperation between the public and the local authorities in various processes, we have also highlighted the mentioned through the following project activities:
– two seminars on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental issues for representatives of associations and cities and municipalities in Dalmatia,
– training for NGOs on nonviolent communication
– a poster created to promote public participation,
– regular work of the Green Phone through which citizens receive information and assistance on environmental issues and information on how to actively engage them in processes at local levels.
You can read the manual here.
The project was coordinated and operated by civil society associations and local self-government units. Environmental Association Sunce was the project coordinator and the partners included Ecological Association “Krka” Knin, Knin City, Kistanje Municipality, Public Institution Telašćica Nature Park, Municipality of Sali, Public Institution Nature Park Lastovo and Lastovo Municipality. As a collaborator on the project, the City of Split was included.
The project was co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund and the Office for Governmental Organizations, and the contracting authority in the Republic of Croatia was the National Foundation for Civil Society Development. Activities related to the work of cooperative councils in nature parks are co-financed through the project “SEA Med – Sustainable Economic Development of Marine Protected Areas” implemented in partnership with the WWF and funded by the MAVA Foundation.
Photo source: Tris/G. Simac