The project is focusing on the challenge of promoting participatory democracy, NGO development, cross-sectoral collaboration and sustainable praxes (for example organic farming) and local tradition in the area of river Dragonja which is known for its rich natural values and cultural heritage. The main challenge is how to integrate nature protection and sustainable development. The debates for formal protection of the area (in form of natural park) are going on for last 20 years and the protection was also part of the national and local development plans, but it was not realized. The main reason is in low levels of social capital, especially in the form of low collaboration between different stakeholders, underdeveloped and unconnected NGO sector and insufficient integration of local people in development activities. Key project results will be established network of local NGOs and strengthened their capacity through workshops, trainings, active involvement in preparation of Local development strategy 2015-2020). The main target groups are: local NGOs and residents.
Summary of project results
The project was focused on the Istrian rural area in Dragonja river region, which is rich in natural and cultural diversity and has much potential for development of “green” activities and products. For more than 20 years the key challenge is how to build the necessary protection of nature and landscape and encourage the sustainable development of the area based on local resources. The main reason for not succeeding in the past was that in the planning process there has been insufficient attention on the strengthening of human and social capital, active involvement of local people and NGOs (participatory democracy) and cross-sectoral cooperation. Activities were managed "from outside" or "top-down" respectively, which has proved to be ineffective. Priority objectives of the project were to strengthen and network the local NGOs, to involve local people in development processes, and to establish cross-sectoral development cooperation. Implementation and results of the project have exceeded expectations. In particular, beneficiary considers very important that positive and lasting change was achieved, particularly in the area of strengthening the role of NGOs, activation of the local population and participatory democracy and cross-sectoral cooperation. Within the project the network for “Revival of Istria” was established, which currently comprises 21 NGO members who are aware that civil society needs a united voice to represent its interests. This informal network is an inclusive space for everybody active in the region of Slovenian Istria, who is ready to connect with others to support sustainable regional development and social responsibility. Network became a recognized stakeholder in the local environment and it actively operates also after the project conclusion. During the implementation period it was ensured that NGOs and local people were actively involved in the activities of preparing Local development strategy and establishing Local action group (LAG) Istra for the purpose of the CLLD program. For the first time the chairman of the LAG Istra is an NGO representative. Until now, NGOs and local people did not have a significant impact on the functioning of the LAG, as it was primarily the domain of municipalities and other public institutions. For sure this will have long term positive effects on increasing the visibility and strengthening NGOs and community building.
Summary of bilateral results