Chapter 6: Country Reports
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
NGOs are still a relatively new component of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's political landscape. Under the socialist rule of the last 50 years, independent, citizen-based environmental initiatives were discouraged in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, except in government-sanctioned and government-controlled ecological societies. As a result, most Macedonian NGOs are relatively young. Established in 1972 in Skopje, Macedonia's bustling capital, the Association of the Ecological Scientists of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the oldest Macedonian NGO. Other groups, including Survival (Skopje), Molika (Bitola) and Nature Symphathizers (Vevcani), were established in 1989, before former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia seceded from the former Yugoslavia. In 1989, these NGOs formed an umbrella organization called the Ecologist Movement of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (DEM), the largest and most influential environmental organization in the country, consisting of nearly 25 citizen-based environmental groups from all over former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However, not all of Macedonia's 70 environmental groups belong to DEM; there are several other umbrella organizations involved in environmental issues, such as Young Researchers in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Scout Union of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Women's Union of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Most Macedonian NGOs are less than seven years old, and most (61 percent) are located outside the capital of Skopje. Thirty-six percent are located in Skopje, and another 1.8 percent operate out of other large urban centers. Environmental NGOs in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia vary in size: 58 percent have less than 100 members, while 32 percent consist of 100 to 500 members.
For 70 percent of Macedonia's NGOs, environmental education and training are their main activities. Fifty-two percent claim lobbying as their main activity, and 47 percent are very much involved in symbolic actions such as clean-ups and reforestation projects. More than half of Macedonian NGOs (61 percent) are also involved in disseminating environmental information and raising public awareness. They are less active in the areas of research and technological design.
The majority of these NGOs consider themselves fully successful (23 percent) or partly successful (44 percent). Only 1.9 percent consider themselves unsuccessful.
Almost half of Macedonia's NGOs (40 percent) have annual budgets of less than USD 500, and almost one-quarter (24 percent) have annual budgets ranging from USD 5,000 to USD 50,000. REC grants are a significant part of most Macedonian NGOs' financial resources.
Needs and Problems
Almost half of Macedonian NGOs (41 percent) suffer from insufficient financial resources. Other problems facing NGOs are lack of legal regulations, inadequate access to environmental information, lack of environmental education and training, the general weakness of the environmental movement, and a lack of cooperation between NGOs.
Macedonian NGOs have listed the following items as their most pressing needs: financial support for implementing specific local, regional and national projects; developing institutional capacity; improving environmental networking; and training courses in fund raising, organizing local actions and project leadership.
Macedonian NGOs usually cooperate with their colleagues at local, regional and national levels, but cooperation with NGOs from other CEE countries is minimal. Only 16 percent have regular contacts with a national umbrella organization, and only 10 percent participate in joint activities with international environmental NGOs. Cooperation with local governments is much better than it is with the national government: only 5.4 percent of Macedonian NGOs cooperate closely with the national government, whereas 23 percent maintain close cooperation with local authorities.
Experience with the Regional Environmental Center
As is the case in most countries, Macedonian NGOs maintain closer contact with the REC Local Office in Skopje than they do with REC Head Office in Szentendre. Ninety-eight percent of these groups know about the REC and the local office. Approximately half (49 percent) consider REC Local Office their traditional partner, and 25 percent have heard or read about the REC but have not used any of its services. More than 45 percent of Macedonian NGOs consider REC a very useful partner, not only in the grant-giving process but also in disseminating environmental information, offering technical support, organizing environmental campaigning and networking.
The REC Local Office in Skopje is the oldest environmental grant-giving organization in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since it was established in 1993 it has awarded 73 NGOs approximately USD 130,000. Thirty percent of the NGOs have received money through the REC's Local and Earmarked Grants programs, and 45 percent consider the REC very helpful in funding their activities.
These results show that the REC is the major source of support for former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's environmental NGOs, but there is still room for improvement. The REC Local Office should encourage NGOs to cooperate not only with each other, but also with government authorities, and with environmental NGOs from abroad. The REC can facilitate such cooperation by taking a more active role in NGO training and by acting as an intermediary between the different actors. The REC Local Office should also continue to provide funding for institutional development, assisting those projects focused on strengthening NGO networks and increasing public participation in environmental decisionmaking. In these ways, the REC Local Office will promote a strong environmental movement active at the national, regional and international levels.
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