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A Step Forward towards Partnership for Progress: "Civil Society and Local Government"

"Citizen engagement in decision-making processes in political and public life is the foundation for advancing and realizing human rights. It is the responsibility of all of us to preserve peace and stability and contribute to sustaining a sustainable and inclusive society in Bosnia and Herzegovina," concluded the conference "Civil Society and Local Government" held on April 3, 2024, within the PRAGG - Proactive Citizens project.
A Step Forward towards Partnership for Progress:

The event began with the presentation of initiatives supported by PRAGG, through cooperation with citizens and civil society organizations, with the support of local authorities, aimed at addressing the direct needs of citizens throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Representatives of local communities where PRAGG is present, including Gračanica, Bijeljina, Tuzla, Teslić, Modriča, Srbac, Trebinje, Bihać, exchanged views and drew conclusions on three important topics: a) transparency in the allocation of public funds to civil society organizations; b) categorization and registration of civil society organizations; and c) establishing cooperation and partnerships between civil society organizations and local authorities.

"Our goal is to show that we are all agents of change in society, but that without collaboration and partnership, we cannot achieve much. The initiatives we are working on and have launched through PRAGG are indicators that joint engagement of citizens, civil society organizations, and authorities is necessary to achieve positive changes in society," said Slaviša Prorok, PRAGG project manager.

Nedžad Unkić, Expert Associate for Social Affairs of the Municipality of Tešanj, emphasized: "A government that recognizes that non-governmental organizations are a resource that can significantly contribute to the well-being of a community has an advantage over one that does not have such a perspective. Therefore, building the resources of the non-governmental sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina has no alternative, because only together, the non-governmental sector with the support of all levels of government can lead Bosnia and Herzegovina to a higher level of tolerance and contribute to the well-being of all its citizens."

"We need each other; there is much that we officials cannot achieve alone, so associations mean a lot to us as partners," said Tatjana Letić, Youth Officer of the City of Bijeljina.

Also, Vehid Šehić from the Citizens' Forum Tuzla and a member of the PRAGG Advisory Board, said that he "appreciates the organization of such an event that brought together representatives of local communities from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is very important for such a divided society, and based on which we see that the problems are absolutely the same regardless of whether it is Tuzla, Trebinje, Bijeljina, or Bihać. The power lies in ordinary citizens, and we are the employers of the authorities."

Another participant at the PRAGG forum, Melisa Gazdić, a long-time consultant in the field of civil society development, added: "I think that the dialogue between local communities and civil society organizations, which this project establishes, is incredible and much needed in this country."

The "Civil Society and Local Government" Forum is just one of the events that PRAGG will continue to organize to improve conditions for all its citizens throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina by encouraging dialogue, cooperation, and partnership relations, as well as by taking steps that will lead to results.

PRAGG is financed by the Government of Switzerland and implemented by a consortium consisting of HELVETAS and NIRAS, in partnership with local partners - Centers for Civil Initiatives (CCI) and the Institute for Youth Development KULT.