Civic Action for Security and Environment (CASE) is a small grants programme which supports civil society organizations in addressing environment and security challenges, in co-operation with their governments.
Inspired by the OSCE Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension (Maastricht Strategy) and the 2007 Madrid Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Security, both of which highlighted the role of civil society in achieving sustainable development, CASE was launched in late 2009 in Armenia and Azerbaijan and subsequently extended to Tajikistan. A first batch of 15 projects supported by CASE small grants has already commenced in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Additional sets of small grant-financed projects will be phased in in all three countries throughout 2010.
The launching of CASE under the umbrella of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) signified a major step for the OSCE and its partners, offering them the means to bring a civil society perspective to the field of environment and security.
At the heart of CASE is an effort to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to respond to the environment and security challenges facing their countries, and to participate in environmental governance, which in turn contributes to increased public awareness on environmental issues.
In CASE, civil society has a voice throughout programming, project development, and project implementation. Thematic priorities for CASE small grants are established through a participatory process at the national level, where - together with the respective governments and OSCE experts - civil society representatives draft the CASE country strategies. Civil society representatives, serving on their country's CASE National Screening Board, evaluate and select NGO projects for CASE support through small grants. And, of course, civil society organizations apply for small grants for their own environment and security projects. This set-up makes for a tailored approach, strong local ownership, and high visibility of the CASE initiative. Early experience suggests that CASE resonates strongly with civil society organizations on the ground.
In preparation and implementation of their projects, civil society organizations are supported by the CASE country teams at the OSCE field presences. In the implementation of CASE, the OSCE field presences co-operate closely with the countries' Aarhus Centres.
CASE shares fundamental goals and values with the Aarhus Centres initiative. Both work for increased public awareness on environment and security issues, and both seek to improve environmental governance through wider public participation. On a practical level, the civil society networks that the Aarhus Centres maintain are instrumental in informing the public about CASE and CASE projects, and provide a link for CASE to reach out to the NGO community. The benefits from this co-operation flow both ways, since the civil society capacity built and the environmental awareness raised through CASE reinforces the Aarhus Centres' work.