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Active Citizens Fund

“Active Citizens Fund” is program of European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway Finance Mechanism. Its been implemented in 15 countries in Europe – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Funding for the Active Citizens Fund in all beneficiary countries is provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (donor countries financing the EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism). The decision on the total amount granted to every country is made individually.

The objective of the Active Citizens Fund in all countries is – civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered.

In all countries, the Active Citizens Fund is operated by NGO Consortiums – this is a donor states’ condition to ensure the independence of civil society activities from the public administration and the business sector.

 

The set of projects, supported by the Active Citizens Fund in each country, shall seek to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of civil society, strengthening its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights. The fund supports projects that contribute to the following areas:

  • Democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency;
  • Human rights and equal treatment through combating any discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups;
  • Gender equality and gender-based violence;
  • Environment and climate change.

 

Limitations:

  • Climate change and protection of the environment can only be supported as a part of measures that promote civic participation, advocacy, social innovation, and civic awareness.
  • Welfare and basic services can only be supported as a part of activities that raise public awareness, advocacy and initiate reforms.

 

Overview of Active Citizens Funds in Europe:

 

Total fund amount (million, EUR) 

 The web page of the Fund
Bulgaria  15,5 www.activecitizensfund.bg
Croatia 8,5 www.acfcroatia.hr/en/
Cyprus 2,7 under development
Czech Republic 15 www.activecitizensfund.cz/en
Estonia 4 acf.ee/en/
Greece 12 www.activecitizensfund.gr/en
Hungary no agreement no web page
Latvia 8,5 www.activecitizensfund.lv
Lithuania 9 apf.lt/en
Malta 0,7 activecitizensfund.mt
Poland 53 aktywniobywatele.org.pl
Portugal 11 gulbenkian.pt/cidadaos-ativos/en
Romania 46 activecitizensfund.ro/en
Slovakia 9 acfslovakia.sk/en/home
Slovenia 3 acfslovenia.si/?lang=en

 

 

Active Citizens Fund in Latvia
The allocation to the Active Citizens Fund in Latvia from 2020 to 2024 is 8,5 million euro.

   
Total budget  8 500 000 EUR
 Fund’s management fee (13%)  1 100 000 EUR
 Funding for CSOs projects  7 400 000 EUR

 

The funding will be available through open calls and two pre-defined projects. According to individual needs, project applicants will be able to choose between various project types:

  • Strategic projects with a systemic vision on their importance and long-term impact on strengthening the participation of Latvian civic society and individuals, and the empowerment of vulnerable groups.
  • Capacity projects – for activities focusing on strengthening, cooperation and networking of civil society organizations, informal civic society groups, and active individuals; as well as on the development of financial sustainability of organizations.
  • Action projects for implementation of current and urgent initiatives to ensure advocacy and implementation of civic activities.
  • Awareness-raising campaign on democracy and the role of people in it.

 Pre-defined projects will be implemented by the organizations of the NGO Consortium:

  1. Research paper on CSOs sector in Latvia 2020-2024. The project aims to obtain and analyze reliable data on civil society sector in Latvia, its development and necessary legal and financial improvements of the sector. The project promoter is Civic Alliance Latvia.
  2. Civic Competences Academy “Change Maker” – in 2021/2022, in all five regions (Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme, Latgale, Riga & Riga Region) of Latvia, the 8-months training course in civic competences will be organized. It will be available in three different courses divided by participant category and experience in civic activities: (1) new or young activists, (2) existing CSO leaders and (3) officials. The Academy will be coordinated by the Latvian Rural Forum in cooperation with Dienvidlatgale NGO Support Centre, Kurzeme NGO Centre, Civic Alliance Latvia, Valmiera Region Community Foundation and Zemgale NGO Support Centre.

 

Preparation of the framework of the Active Citizens Fund

The content of the ACF program was developed in close consultation with the EEA/Norway Finance Mechanism Office, based on two stakeholder consultations (in 15.11.2018. and 29.07.2019.) and follow-up meetings, relevant documents of policy planning, research papers, surveys, using experience and knowledge of the NGO Consortium, and taking into account advice of other Active Citizens Fund operators.

 

The Active Citizens Fund focuses on the following eight key challenges of Latvian civil society, determined by the NGO Consortium:

  1. Low civic participation, disbelief in the ability to influence democratic processes, lack of civic education.
  2. Insufficient public administration’s and society’s understanding about democratic processes and its development.
  3. Absence of purposive policy of civil society’s development.
  4. Unstable and unfavourable legal and financial environment for civil society’s development.
  5. High level of intolerance to difference.
  6. Segregation rather than integration process – national minorities are not included in civic activities.
  7. Civil society’s, including CSOs, low capacity and understanding of long-term development.
  8. Unbalanced regional development of the CSO sector.

 

Considering challenges of civil society of Latvia and to achieve the objective of the Active Citizens Fund, the NGO Consortium and the EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism Office agreed on the following solutions:

  • to provide the awareness-raising campaign on democracy, human rights and the role of people in it;
  • to increase participation in civic activities;
  • to reinforce the role of civil society in the decision-making process;
  • to support urgent and strategically important civil society/advocacy activities;
  • to empower vulnerable groups in civic activities;
  • to enhance civic competencies (knowledge, attitudes, skills) and contacts for the sector;
  • to promote mutual exchange of experience between organizations;
  • to promote CSOs’ visibility in society.

 

By combining challenges and solutions, from 2020 to 2024, the Active Citizens Fund will focus on four programs:

  1. “Democracy culture”: its objective is to strengthen democratic culture and civic awareness in Latvia. The total amount available for the program is 4 405 000 euros.
  2. “Human rights”: its objective is to increase awareness on human rights in Latvian society. The total amount available for the program is 630 000 euros.
  3. “Sustainability and capacity”: its objective is to enhance the capacity and sustainability of civil society in Latvia. The total amount available for the program is 2 020 000 euros.
  4. “Bilateral and regional cooperation”: its objective is to enhance cross-border collaboration of civic society in Latvia wit organizations in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and all EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism beneficiary states. The total amount available for the program is 345 000 euros.

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