Czech NGO Fund: conference in Prague
The Czech Civil Society Development Foundation held a conference on 19 April in Prague. This marked the closure of the EEA and Norway Grants-supported Czech NGO Fund 2004-2009, where projects were in implementation until April 2011.
Representatives from the Czech non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector, donor states, local experts, partners and the Czech government came together to share experience, highlight good practice, and exchange ideas on potential opportunities for the new round of funding under the grants schemes.
Speaking at the opening session of the conference, Norwegian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jens Eikaas, underlined the important role played by of civil society in building and strengthening the democratic process. “Norway has provided support in the past and we will continue to support the Czech NGO sector under the new grants."
The conference provided a forum for showcasing achievements in the three supported areas: multiculturalism and human rights, children and young people with specific problems, and environmental protection. Funding totalling €9.5 million was channelled through the fund to civil society organisations working in these priority areas, providing support for 181 projects.
Results showed that the targets established at the outset were largely exceeded, with projects making an important contribution to increasing public participation in decision-making, improving environmental protection, raising awareness on multi-cultural issues and providing better services for disadvantaged children and young people.
Hana Silhanova, Director of the Civil Society Development Foundation (NROS) – the organisation selected to administer the Czech NGO Fund – said that support for civil society is a key theme for the EEA and Norway Grants in the Czech Republic. She also emphasised the benefits offered by the grants for building ties and carrying out joint activities with the Norwegian NGO sector, saying, "the bilateral dimension is crucial in helping to strengthen partnerships and facilitate the exchange of know-how between NGOs."
In the afternoon session, participants attended thematic workshops and discussed opportunties under the new NGO Fund in the upcoming EEA and Norway Grants funding period. The Czech Republic is currently negotiating with the donor states on the overall priorities for the grant schemes in the period up to 2014, with funding potentially coming on-stream towards the end of 2011.
Photo: Katerina Kotasova, Civil Society Development Foundation