Active citizens and groups from across the country seek help from the two organizations – project partners for various environmental problems. The two organizations have excellent expert potential but no financial resources to enable them to invest human resources in helping all the citizens who approached us. The main goal of the project is to raise civic awareness and capacity for protection of the public interest regarding clean environment and preserved nature and provide people with the opportunity to be directly involved in local self-governance. The project will support active citizens and groups for the efficient application of local policies on environment protection and spatial development. The main focus will be on the application of the following acts: the Spatial Development Act (SDA), Act on the Spatial Development of the Black Sea Coast, the Administrative Procedure Code, the Access to Public Information Act, the Direct Citizen Participation in State and Local Government Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Biological Diversity Act. The civic awareness and capacity of active citizens and civic groups from the 28 districts across the country will be raised through 36 training sessions. Local activists will be introduced to the steps for successful campaigning and the updated guide on the application of 7 laws at local level. 10 local initiatives related to environment will be supported with expertise and legal aid by means of support for the planning and organization of campaigns, expert advice, letters and claims and legal aid. A municipal Ordinance on citizen participation in decision making at local level will be developed and an attempt will be made to have it adopted by at least one municipality. The project will benefit civic activists and organizations from 28 districts and 10 local communities including the broad public.
Summary of project results
The main aim of the project are to support citizens and civil groups who are affected by the ineffective implementation of legislation related to environmental protection, by improving the opportunities for their direct involvement and participation. Another goal was to increase their awareness and capacity. It was planned to make 36 trainings in all regions of the country, to prepare a Manual for green advocacy, to expertly and legally support 10 local initiatives in the field of the environment, to prepare an Ordinance on citizen participation in local decision-making level and to conduct 5 fund-raising campaigns to support green initiatives.
The results of the work on the project exceeded the expectations. We succeeded in visit of all Bulgarian regions, conducting 29 live trainings. The total number of trainings reached 37 with 962 participants. The guidebook for green advocacy covered all the main laws related to environmental protection, and its volume exceeded 200 pages. Expertly and legally, 14 initiatives in the field of the environment were supported, and some of them were finally brought to a successful end. 2 ordinances were prepared instead of the planned one. The Ordinance on citizens’ participation in decision-making at the local level was submitted to the Sofia Municipality and will be multiplied in other municipalities, and the additionally prepared ordinance on smells in the air will be submitted to the Ruse Municipality. All 5 fundraising campaigns were conducted successfully reaching the previously set goals. Through our campaigns for Protected Areas and Century-old Trees, we collected hundreds of proposals from citizens, and as a result we were able to submit proposals for announced of over 100 century-old trees and 7 protected areas. By the end of the project, 7 centuries-old trees and 4 new protected areas have already been announced, and their number continues to grow even after the end of the project. The initiative was recognized by so many people that APB intends to pay special attention to the continuation and going forward. More information can be found on the project page - https://priroda.parks.bg/.