Act4Drin survey takes stock of environmental NGO capacities in the Drin River Basin

Posted on Jan 29, 2015

Act4Drin ran a one-month long survey targeted to environmental NGOs in the Drin riparian countries.  Launched on the 25th of November 2014 by MIO-ECSDE the survey aimed to take stock of NGO capacities in promoting integrated water resources management and freshwater biodiversity conservation in transboundary settings. The key findings of this survey will feed into the planning phase of an Act4Drin capacity building workshop to ensure that it is tailor made to the NGO needs.

The survey, which was sent to some 25 environmental NGOs active in the region of the Drin River Basin yielded 12 responses from NGOs from the three Drin riparian countries, namely Albania, FYR of Macedonia and Montenegro.

Below are the main findings:

Activities undertaken by NGOs on a day-to-day basis

Types of activities: Environmental education/education for Sustainable Development is the most important, yielding the highest rate of importance for 79% of the respondents. Lines of activity with the highest rate of importance included capacity building of specific audiences (71%), awareness raising, participation and consensus building (71%), lobbying and direct involvement in policy debates and decision making processes (64%), research and environmental fieldwork to improve the evidence base for environment policy (57%), networking & building alliances with other NGOs (50%) drafting, promoting and presenting common NGO positions (21%).

Areas of action: Water resources management and wetlands protection yielded the highest rate (93%) followed by pollution control and prevention (71%), Nature and biodiversity conservation (79%), sustainable management of natural recourses (71%), land resources protection, including forests (57%), integrated coastal zone management/ecosystem management (50%), wildlife preservation and protection (50%).

Expertise and experience on integrated water resources management and freshwater biodiversity conservation

Capacities to generate, use and share information and knowledge: Most NGO respondents stated that they have a long standing experience when it comes to sharing/communicating environmental information and knowledge produced with all stakeholders (local, national and regional decision making bodies; private sector; NGOs; media; wider public), while they are less experienced in the fields of generating knowledge, including the assessment of the hydrological and physical/chemical characteristics of a water body; identification of pressures and impacts, assessment of ecosystem services provided from water bodies to local communities (values and costs), etc. (only 14% reported a longstanding experience); and/or assessing and making use of relevant information to diagnose and understand environmental problems and potential solutions (50% of the respondents reported a longstanding experience).

Capacities to engage in policy analysis and dialogues: Most NGO respondents stated that they have a long standing experience when it comes to promoting common NGO positions and voicing collective views of NGOs and/or citizens, local communities, etc. via policy briefs, workshops, media campaigns, etc. (64%), while relatively comparable are the capacities related to direct involvement in policy debates, expert groups, consultations, etc. (57%). Advising decision-makers, not only in the policy formulation stage but also in the technical preparation phases by making use of environmental research results seems to be the area where their experience is more moderate.

Capacities to design, manage and implement projects: Some 80% of the respondents stated that they have a longstanding experience in designing/developing feasible project proposals, while  43% of the respondents stated their long standing experience in either executing projects aimed at promoting integrated water resources management approaches (carrying out studies for long-term development and management of water resources; implementing demand management measures to improve water use efficiency in all sectors; protecting and rehabilitating catchment areas; establishing processes/platforms for stakeholders’ participation in water management decisions making; etc.) or projects aimed at freshwater biodiversity protection (monitoring of protected areas, enhancement of the natural environment, habitats management and restoration, consensus building and participatory processes, etc.). Executing projects at transboundary level yielded the lowest rate of longstanding experience (21%) with most respondents rating their experience either moderate or limited (71%). Last but not least, regarding the mobilization of resources, only 50% of the respondents assessed their experience as longstanding while some 43% assessed their experience as moderate.