Belgrade, September 16, 2021 - Today marked the beginning of the second phase of the Regional Programme for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOadD2), funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). On this occasion, seven local self-government units signed cooperation agreements within the ReLOaD2 Programme, which is to last from 2021 to 2024 and which in Serbia comprises a total value of 2 million USD.
With their signing of cooperation agreements, the cities and municipalities participating in the programme (Novi Sad, Kruševac, Vrnjačka Banja, Topola, Subotica, Vladičin Han, and Babušnica) have committed themselves to, with the aid of the UNDP, instituting more transparent procedures for financing civil society organizations (CSOs). This includes establishing clearer and more transparent criteria for selecting initiatives funded by local budgets, monitoring the spending of allocated funds, and reporting the results to the public. Additionally, the ReLOaD2 Programme will promote and support youth engagement and the implementation of youth initiatives.
Civic initiatives to be co-financed by local budgets and ReLOaD2 funds shall contribute to improving the living conditions of citizens in these local communities by offering them new services and enhancing the quality and coverage of existing ones. The UNDP will assist selected CSOs in creating public services in line with European Union standards.
Gordana Čomić, the Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue in the Government of Serbia, asserted: "The Ministry supports this program because it is our belief that democracy is built at the local level. The Ministry will prepare a manual, guidance on implementing the Law on Planning Systems at the local level, and instructions on how to share information and involve all interested parties in the dialogue from the outset. This program changes the communication between the elected members of local governments and the citizens," added Čomić.