Study Visit

The SECTOR study tour took place between August 9 and 16, 2014, in Estonia, a country that shares a common past with Belarus and Moldova. The last 20 years have seen the emergence of a modern, civil society in Estonia: among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, CSOs in Estonia benefit from one of the highest overall levels of sustainability according to the recently published CSO Sustainability Index 2013 

The study tour comprised meetings with a wide range of organisations, site visits (including opportunities for hiking and biking), a learning exercise in the style of a summer school, and roundtable discussions aimed at improving understanding of environmental and nature protection, environmental decision making and the role of CSOs in Estonia as an EU member state. The tour also aimed to create connections between organisations in Belarus, Moldova and Estonia that might form the basis of future cooperation.

There were many opportunities during the week to meet not only environmental but also other types of civil society organisations and to learn how they operate (in terms of financing, human resources management, organisational structure, leadership, membership issues and the engagement of volunteers, for example); and how they influence decision making, engage in dialogue with the government, and implement actions and campaigns.

Participants were also given an overview of the wide range of e-solutions now commonly used in Estonia to enhance democracy and promote citizens’ interests.

According to the feedback received, the study tour was both informative and stimulating. From among the many meetings and exchanges, participants were particularly interested in the concept of crowdsourcing, social impact issues, nature education and recreational systems. They were also inspired by hearing about the “Let’s Do It” movement, a clean-up initiative launched in Estonia in 2008 that has become the biggest civil movement in the world, reaching 111 countries and comprising 9 million volunteers.   

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Study visit presentations

Background reading

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