We are proud to announce that today we officially start our capacity-building project ENGAGE! financed by the EEA Grants – Active Citizens Fund in Poland.
Within the next 27 months, we will work together with the Association of Polish Communnes Euroregion Baltic from Elbląg and South-Norway European Office from Kristiansand, Norway. From Dec 2021 our Norwegian partner’s name/institution has changed to Agder fylkeskommune (Agder County Administration), as they integrated South-Norway European Office activities in their own portfolio.
In the ENGAGE! the project we want to become an avangarde of changes and innovation in the area of Baltic cross-border cooperation of the NGO sector entities. For this purpose, we want to take advantage of good practices within the Umbrella project and our 20 years of experience in international cooperation for NGOs. In particular, we will focus on including inexperienced associations in the cooperation and transferring the best practices/techniques/tools to build a strong local community.
The durability of our activities will be ensured by identifying subsequent local leaders using the “train-the-trainers” method in different NGO sectors to improve their competencies for international cooperation. We will also support them with our contacts, knowledge and inclusion into the structure of the Baltic NGO Network. The concept will thus enable permanent activities.
Therefore, within ENGAGE! we will create a knowledge base and a user-friendly manual for international cooperation in the form of sketch-noting, infographics and mind maps. Another experience justifying the necessity for ENGAGE! project is BISER’s conclusions stemming from the activities within the Contact Point of the NGO Network for the Baltic Sea since 2016. The aim is to strengthen the role of Polish NGOs in building relations between the societies of the Baltic Sea Region countries. As part of the Network, we made a broad diagnosis of Pomeranian NGOs, which indicated relatively little knowledge about Baltic issues and little experience of such cooperation among NGOs, thus very few seek contacts with NGOs from the countries in the region.
Through the active participation of social activists from 11 countries of the region in the BSNGON Network Forum, they have a chance for contact and exchange of experiences, which contributes to stimulating links between active citizens, becomes an opportunity to support the development of civil society in the region. In 2016, 50 local organisations took part in co-organised by BISER Baltic Sea NGO Forum in Gdansk, where we met representatives of Assoc. of Polish Communes Euroregion Baltic. In 2017-2019 at least 5 local NGOs went to each foreign BS NGO Forum. Our aim is to develop this network of cooperation and permanently root it in the consciousness of the representatives from the 3rd sector based in the Pomerania Region as well as Warmia and Mazury.
Within the ENGAGE! project, NGOs beneficiaries will take part in the Baltic Sea NGO Forum in 2021 and 2022 in order to build a network of international contacts, permanent relations and increase their own international competencies. Our goal is an ecosystem action – we don’t want to address our support to individual units, but to organizations of the 3rd sector in Poland and Norway. Where possible and necessary, we want to connect them with NGO support institutions, local governments and similar partners in the countries of the Baltic Sea Region, including Norway and Iceland. We want to build partnerships between at least 30 actors from different sectors and different countries around topics that are close to them.
One of the ways to build new, strong international teams will be co-creation and joint value creation. The value can be a new offer of the NGO, a change in the organisation, or an innovative solution to a problem. In the traditional approach, we create value FOR someone or something. Co-creation, which is very popular with our partner from NO, changes this traditional approach – we create value WITH others. This small difference has a huge impact on the way NGOs work. In the process of internationalisation, we want to involve their whole team and even build new teams by adding new actors (also from outside the 3rd sector), also from abroad, mostly from Norway. This will be another innovation in our activities.
Soon we will present more details on our planned activities and follow up information on the kick-off conference for the ENGAGE! project. Stay tuned!