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“Impact of COVID-19 on sustainability of Civil Society Organization in the Western Balkans region” Webinar

Covid-19 pandemic has affected Civil Society Organizations in a number of ways. The most frequent challenges are linked with disruption, discontent and discovery, as the main processes related to the crisis. CSOs experienced various forms of it in the cancelled projects, downsizing, new work mode, lack of official economic assistance and at times, deprivation of fundamental freedoms.

However, in the midst of the crisis, CSOs were capable to adapt to online options, show resilience and solidarity and enjoy to a good extent, donor flexibility.

From there, with lessons learned on resilience, reflection and revitalization, CSOs are ready to embrace flexibility, creativity and adaptation skills as they move forward and reflect on comprehensive crisis preparation processes, and more importantly, on revitalizing new strategic alliances and better aligned agendas.

These were the main points of discussion in the Western Balkans Fund webinar on April 7th, as it launched the report on the “Impact of COVID-19 on sustainability of Civil Society Organization in the Western Balkans region”.

The high-profile event brought together around 80 participants from the region, as well as high level representation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and its embassies, as the generous supporter of the initiative.

“This support is in line with the strategic vision that Japan shares for Western Balkans region: the one of stability, prosperity and European integration. In these challenging times of the pandemic, we are all grateful to have unwavering partners and supporters”- said Mr. Gjergj Murra, Executive Director of the Western Balkans Fund.

On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, statements of encouragement and support were given, highlighting the role of CSO’s and the Western Balkans Fund.

The crucial role of the WBF as a reliable and essential organization in the region was also emphasized by participants, researchers and key players in the region.

Representatives from the MFA, Republic of North Macedonia shared their remarks, on behalf of WBF 2021 Chairmanship in Office. Other colleagues from MFAs in the region also gave an input on the current stage and future plans of supporting WBF initiatives.

The webinar attracted a dynamic discussion on the sustainability, similarities and differences identifies in how CSOs in the region are dealing with it; ways forward in virtual times for regional cooperation; adjustment needs in funding schemes and crisis management, joint regional programs on the issues identified, etc.