Uneven development of all parts of local self-governments, long-term trends of migration to urban areas and the demise of villages, departure of young and qualified people to big cities and abroad, are negative trends that local communities in Serbia have been facing for many years. In addition, major challenges identified as obstacles to local and national development include the depersonalization of local governments and weakening ties with citizens, the lack of political and social debate and communication among local stakeholders, and the joint creation and implementation of local policies.
Recognizing the above challenges and obstacles, the Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society (BFPE), with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), launched the project “From My Town to My Country: Developing Serbia by a bottom-up approach” with the aim of awakening and intensifying the dialogue between local actors and citizens, as well as to define recommendations for further action and overcoming the current situation.
Starting from the premise that sustainable and balanced development at the national level cannot be achieved without the development and improvement of local communities, the project was implemented through joint work with representatives of local civil society organizations and local self-government institutions in eight municipalities and cities in Serbia: the cities Pirot, Užice, Šabac, Čačak, Zaječar, Sombor, Zrenjanin and the municipality of Priboj. In all the mentioned local self-governments, during 2020 and 2021, public debates were organized by the BFPE Foundation and with the support of local partners, on various development topics. In addition to representatives of local government and the public sector, a significant number of civil society organizations, business associations and entities, as well as prominent individuals, participated in them. In addition, through direct communication with citizens, data were obtained on how citizens see the challenges, potentials and future directions of development of their communities.
Findings and recommendations on how to develop Serbia through a bottom-up approach you can find in publication: