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The article was originally published on the website Javno zagovaranje.

The best drivers of change in Serbia, motivated citizens who persevere in their efforts to improve the lives of their fellow citizens in areas such as environmental protection, communal problems, support for single parents, help for mothers, support for people with autism, use of innovative technologies in defense of activism – they were awarded the Drivers of Change 2021 award. This recognition is awarded by the Belgrade Open School, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2019.

The awards were given in four categories this year as well.

Category I: Cooperation for change, examples of good practice and successful cooperation between public authorities and civil society organizations

Winner of the award: Society for the Protection and Study of Birds of Serbia for the campaign to combat poaching in 2021. Thanks to the initiative “Save the quails”, A ban on hunting turtle doves and quails until 2025 was announced.

Category II: The first voice of the citizens – a campaign that, through its advocacy activities, brought together a large number of citizens around a goal.

Winner of the award: Association of Citizens “I love Padinjak” for solving communal problems of the inhabitants of MZ Padinska Skela

Category III: Campaign for activism – successful initiatives of informal groups.

Winner of the award: Women’s Solidarity Front Vranje for the Humanitarian Ball organized to provide funds for material support to children/families who lost a working member due to the consequences of Covid-19.

Category IV: Driver of change – for the engagement and driving initiative of individuals shared by two award winners:

Zvezdana Luković for the initiative “Nevađani za Nevade” – protest against the construction of an asphalt base in Gornji Milanovac
Milica Nikolic, founder of the Association for Helping People with Autism “Bazi Mili”

The award committee also presented a special thank you note:

Union “Third Belgrade” for the most visible campaign. The Third Belgrade Union managed to defend Bara Reva – an untouched natural asset inhabited by protected animal species. Activists were on duty day and night at Reva, in order to prevent this natural good from becoming a construction waste plant.

The Moms Association has a law to defend the rights of moms.

Igor Velić, master eng. traffic, the president of the Association of Safe Trails from Bor for the use of ICT in activism.

Jadovnik Association for its contribution to multisectoral cooperation.

Following the awards ceremony, a panel discussion on Citizens’ Resilience in Activism was held, during which panelists Aida Ćorović, human rights activist, Milja Vuković, activist, Zero & Low Waste Serbia and Doris Rafajlovski, a psychologist and supervised psychotherapist, discussed obstacles. activists come across in their actions – personal and collective. Special emphasis was placed on personal development and its further impact on the activities of social activists, the sustainability of their activities, as well as their overall well-being.

The Annual Driver of Change Award is given within the project “Active Citizens – Better Society: Advocating for Cooperation and Democratic Development”, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This project is being implemented by the Belgrade Open School (BOS) in cooperation with the Foundation BFPE for Responsible Society (BFPE) and the Balkan Research Network Serbia (BIRN).

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