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This member story was featured in the 2016 APC Annual Report, as part of our work on governance.

“Participation for Nature: Representation of environmental civil society organisations in councils and other state bodies and local authorities”, a research report by’s executive editor Pavel Antonov and environmental expert Toma Belev, was released in February 2016.

The report examined 181 mechanisms for civil society participation in Bulgaria, focusing on 24 state institutions responsible for environmental issues.

According to the report’s conclusions, the Bulgarian authorities are still frightened by civil society participation in councils and other bodies and try to keep it under control. As a result, changes in mechanisms for civil society participation are needed in order to make these bodies more effective. For example, there is no civil society representation in some councils, while in others, voting rights are limited, and civil society is thus unable to participate in decision making.

The expert report includes recommendations for more effective civil society participation, such as the clear definition of functions and responsibilities of councils including civil society representatives, harmonisation of quotas in advisory councils, avoidance of seniority as a voting method, and establishment of equal voting rights for NGO representatives. The report was released as a part of the project “Participation for Nature”, implemented by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation partnering with the BlueLink Foundation and supported by the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism.

Image: Participation for Nature Report cover.