NGO Days 2009

This year NGO Days were held in Osijek between 23rd and 25th April. The Days were organised by the Office for Cooperation with NGOs in cooperation with Council for the Development of Civil Society, National Foundation for Civil Society Development, Osijek-Baranja County, Association of Cities, Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Croatia, the Embassy of the United States of America, national Board for Development of Volunteering and the Regional Forum of Associations of Slavonia.

Bearing in mind the current economic and financial challenges domestically and globally, the main discussion topic of this years event, which hosted nearly 200 participants, were the possibilities and duties of civil society in starting development processes in the midst of a global financial crisis.

Ms. Jadranka Kosor, Minister of Families, War Veterans’ and Intergenerational Solidarity, and the Deputy Prime Minister, was the Presidential envoy for the event. She thanked the representatives of NGOs and other representatives for their devoted engagement for the public good, and added that NGOs encouraged the Government to change things from legislature onwards. Ms. Kosor emphasized that even in these difficult times all projects for the public benefit will receive financial support.
Important questions from the fields of volunteering, social entrepreneurship and social inclusion of youth in the times of crisis were being addressed in two plenary sessions and ten parallel round table discussions. There were also discussions on accession and structural funds, inter-sectoral cooperation, youth activities in the field of culture, sustainable development and environmental protection, civil association partnerships in health, and numerous other topics. The conclusions of the discussions from the mentioned round table discussions will be forwarded to all the bodies concerned.
Within the scope of the NGO Days a special conference was held on Saturday 25th April on citizen and civil society inclusion into the decision making processes at the local level. Renowned experts from Croatia and abroad took part in the conference which was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, counties, towns and municipalities. The conference was also attended by Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, who is the founder and the president of the NGO AmericaSpeaks and which received numerous international accolades for their achievements and innovations in the field of participatory democracy development at the local level. Dr. Lukensmeyer is actively involved in implementing the open and transparent government strategy in the US, which is one of the main aims of President Obama. She demonstrated possible ways of citizen inclusion in decision-making on all important questions for the local community.
A detailed report from the NGO Days, alongside conclusions from particular debates, is available here (in Croatian).