Due to the developments relating to COVID-19, this year’s CiSEP Convention “Shaping It Together: Our Future, Our Community, Our Responsibility“ took place virtually from 22 to 25 June 2020. The large-scale event equally marked the completion of the, since September 2015 ongoing training programme for active citizens around the implementation of the AA/DCFTA in Ukraine as well as the hour of birth of an independent network, which in the future will accelerate the country’s further EU integration under its new name “ Civic Initiative for Sound EU Practice“.
The 4-day programme for the alumni of the training series started with a public opening, to which ambassadors, representatives of Ukrainian civil society organisations and journalists were invited as well. After a retrospection on the beginnings, the development and previous achievements, that was assembled by IEP project managers and the Ukrainian project partners, three CiSEP fellows got a chance to speak. They each referred to their personal experiences with working in the realm of civil society in Ukraine and spoke about the challenges, but also the opportunities of the EU integration on a regional level as well as their own contributions to positive changes. The local perspective transitioned into a panel discussion, during which the European perspective on Ukraine‘s association process found expression. Anka Feldhusen, the German ambassador in Kyiv, Stefan Schleuning from the EU Delegation for Ukraine and Marina Nelina from the Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine shared their assessment of the current situation and answered the questions by the audience. The focus was on the country’s dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential effects on the progress of the association process, the state of reforms and the significance of civil society when it comes to communicating success stories. The discussion was moderated by IEP director Katrin Böttger.
The second day of the convention was entirely dedicated to the development of the network. The alumni exchanged on the current state, the responsibilities and skills but above all on the future of the network. As the result, the statute and the strategic goals were accepted by common consent. Furthermore, the members of an interim initiative group were elected to introduce the first steps towards the successful and collective transfer of the already very specific project ideas. The “Civic Initiative for Sound EU Practice“ considers itself as THE voice of Ukrainian civil society related to the implementation of the association and free trade agreement in the regions.
On the third and fourth day the participants of the convention were able to choose between a total of 22 partially parallel happening workshops. Thematically the online workshops ranged from EU association, network and project development, skill development and exchange of experiences. Workshops were offered on digitization, intellectual property rights in the EaP countries, EU food safety and consumer protection, environmental protection and the revelance of data protection for civil society organisations. In the realm of skill development seminars were given on successful project management, monitoring on a local level, awareness raising, online facilitation and the use of social media. Moreover, there was a project incubator, a round-table for exchanging on the current political situation in Ukraine and a workshop around EU topics for youth.
The ending of the conference was shaped by a “Project Development Speedrun“, during which participants were asked to develop a call for applications and accordingly a project proposal for their own network in a limited amount of time. The result were many exciting ideas! Furthermore, the winners of the photo story challenge, which had been announced on the second day of the convention, were awarded with a prize. The task was to work together in small groups and create a visual expression of a pressing problem in their region as well as an approach to a solution and their vision for the future. During the closing ceremony, the IEP project manager reflected on the eventful convention days, expressed their thanks to everyone involved and made their farewells to the now independent CiSEP network – with the best wishes for the future and a strong Ukrainian civil society!
The CiSEP Convention was very well-received by its participants and some of them contacted the CiSEP team afterwards, expressing their gratitude for putting on the event, like Tetiana Shubenko:
“Thank you very much for an interesting and unusual conference. It was really a significant event and a new experience of conducting it in an online format. This took a little longer, but at the same time showed that force majeure and restrictions imposed are not a hindrance to CiSEP. YOU are great fellows! Thank you and your entire team for your invaluable contribution to the development of civil society in Ukraine and for the fact that throughout this project you have all been close by, painstakingly working. I am very lucky to be in such a great team of like-minded people: participants, coaches, speakers, organizers and facilitators. Thank you for your experience and the knowledge that you shared, for your initiative, creativity and inspiration, for your support and advice!”
The Civic School for Sound EU Practice (CiSEP) is a training programme for active citizens and change-makers from Ukraine. CiSEP is a Ukraine-wide network of specialists on questions related to the EU-Ukraine association agreement with the objective to strengthen the European integration of Ukraine.
This event was organised in cooperation with our local partners Odessa Regional Agency for Reconstruction and Development (Odessa), Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies (Tschernihiw), Civil Network Opora (Lviv), and the NGO “Public Chamber of Ukraine“ (Dnipro).
CiSEP is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.