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Environmental Activism in Serbia: Challenges to Cooperation Between Professional and Grassroots Organisations

L’activisme environnemental en Serbie : les défis de la coopération entre les organisations professionnelles et les organisations de base
Jelisaveta Vukelić, Mina Petrović et Ana Kukuridi

Résumés

L’article explore les tendances récentes de l’activisme environnemental en Serbie. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, la région des Balkans occidentaux était décrite dans la littérature comme dépourvue d’une véritable mobilisation populaire, sa société civile étant dominée par les organisations professionnelles. Celles-ci ont été critiquées pour être dirigées par les donateurs, être artificielles et manquer de base, et donc de capacité pour produire un changement socio-environnemental significatif. Une recrudescence récente de protestations civiques contre la pollution de l’air, l’urbanisme dirigé par les investisseurs et les minicentrales hydroélectriques suggère, cependant, que l’activisme environnemental de base pourrait se renforcer en Serbie. Dans cet article, nous examinons les relations entre les organisations environnementales professionnelles et locales, en explorant si elles ont tendance à se renforcer ou à s’ignorer, ou même à saper les efforts des autres. L’analyse est basée sur des entretiens semi-directifs (N=50) avec des représentants des deux types d’organisations environnementales. Les résultats démontrent un développement asymétrique des organisations professionnelles et de base, en faveur des premières, qui sont fortement influencées par les politiques des donateurs. Bien qu’il existe de nombreuses opportunités de coopération (les organisations de base ont besoin d’un soutien sur le terrain, tandis que les organisations professionnelles sont encouragées par les donateurs à créer des réseaux), les résultats indiquent un manque important de confiance mutuelle et une réticence à coopérer de manière substantielle. Tout cela entrave la consolidation du mouvement écologiste en Serbie.

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Introduction

  • 1 The realization of this research was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science an (...)
  • 2 Petrović Jelisaveta, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope: stvaranje ekološkog pokreta u Srbiji ["Ecolo (...)
  • 3 Fagan Adam, Sircar Indraneel, Europeanization of the Western Balkans: Environmental Governance in B (...)
  • 4 Fagan Adam, Ejdus Filip, “Lost at The Waterfront? Explaining the Absence of Green Organisations in (...)
  • 5 Mišić, Obydenkova, “Environmental Conflict, Renewable Energy, or Both?,” op. cit.
  • 6 Petrović Jelisaveta, “The Transformative Power of Urban Movements on the European Periphery: The Ca (...)
  • 7 Petrovar Ksenija, “Okrugli sto – mreža naselja u umreženom društvu: društvene i prostorne promene u (...)

1At the beginning of the twenty-first century, environmental problems were not a frequent topic addressed in Serbia’s public discourse, and environmental protests were little more than a curiosity.1 As the European integration process picked up speed in the 2010s, this state of affairs changed somewhat as international donors began to allocate financial resources to environmental protection and the development of environmental governance in Serbia.2 During this period, environmental civil society in Serbia consisted of several larger environmental NGOs and a number of smaller professional organisations that, more or less independently of each other, worked on environmental issues. The activities of these professional organisations were supported by international donors and significantly shaped by European environmental policy which caused a lack of resonance with the local context. It is not surprising, therefore, that professional environmental organisations came to be perceived as artificial, donor-driven, and lacking genuine interest in locally-specific environmental problems and the needs of ordinary citizens.3 On the other hand, grassroots initiatives were relatively rare and weak, unable to significantly influence environmental protection or draw the general public’s attention to the over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental injustices. However, the recent upsurge of environmental protest in Serbia suggests that the situation is changing and that grassroots environmental activism is gaining momentum.4 In the summer of 2019, for instance, residents of Belgrade’s Banovo Brdo neighbourhood organised a large protest against the construction of a sports hall in the protected Košutnjak woodland area. In the summer of 2020, several hundred activists and concerned citizens gathered in the small village of Rakita, in southwestern Serbia, to disrupt the construction of a mini-hydropower plant. This was part of a larger surge of protests against mini-hydropower plants that began in 2018.5 During the winter of 2019, people from Belgrade and some other towns in Serbia protested against extreme air pollution levels, raising awareness among the general public about the fact that Belgrade had topped the list of the world’s most polluted capital cities. Moreover, dissatisfaction with environmental devastation as an outcome of investor-led urbanism in Belgrade has been voiced regularly during anti-government marches in Serbia’s capital since 2016,6 as urban entrepreneurialism and neoliberal discourse neglect local urban planning procedures in favour of private investors.7

2In this paper, we focus on relationships between professional environmental organisations and local grassroots initiatives in Serbia, questioning whether they tend to reinforce one another or, on the contrary, whether the professional organisations ignore or hinder the development of grassroots initiatives. We firstly outline the types of environmental activism relevant for the experience of postsocialist countries. Subsequently, relying on secondary data, our focus shifts to the contextual specifics of environmental activism in Serbia in comparison to some other postsocialist countries (especially those in Central Europe). Finally, following the outlined framework of characteristics that distinguish professional and grassroots activism, we analyse data gathered through face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with the representatives of Serbian environmental organisations (N=50).

Research background

Environmental activism in postsocialist countries

  • 8 PETROVA Tzveta, TARROW Sidney, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European P (...)
  • 9 FAGAN Adam, Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic: The Environmental Movement in the Tran (...)
  • 10 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. ci (...)

3Civic activism in postsocialist countries has been developing under the strong influence of Europeanisation processes and, in the last quarter of a century, has been marked particularly by the engagement of professional civil society organisations.8 Instead of initiating mass mobilisation and exploiting other forms of direct action, as was the case with the environmental movement in the West, professional environmental NGOs in postsocialist countries narrowed the repertoire of action to activities based on expert knowledge, such as lobbying and advocacy. Moreover, as directed by donor policies and project-related requirements, professional organisations (accordingly labelled as being “donor-driven”) appeared not to be interested primarily in supporting local environmental initiatives. Instead, they chose to engage in environmental development projects for which the donors were willing to allocate financial resources, thus neglecting specificities of the local environmental context and existing environmental grassroots initiatives.9 All these factors slowed the development of participatory environmental activism in postsocialist countries.10

  • 11 CARMIN JoAnne, “Voluntary Associations, Professional Organisations and the Environmental Movement i (...)
  • 12 FAGAN, Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic, op. cit.; FAGAN, “Neither North nor South,” (...)
  • 13 KOVACH Imre, KUCEROVA Eva, “The Social Context of Project Proliferation: The Rise of a Project Clas (...)

4In developed democracies, contentious grassroots action strives to achieve a position more or less independent from dominant political and economic structures. Activist organisations do this mostly by relying on membership fees and individual donations, as well as through the strong foothold such organisations have in the local community.11 However, the scope for either approach is rather limited in Eastern Europe.12 This is one of the reasons why some authors refer to professional activism as “project activism,” while they see its bearers as a “project class,” who align their activities not with the interests of environmental protection and local citizens, but with the agendas of their (public or private) donors and the individual financial benefits of working on European projects. Moreover, in addition to working on environmental problems, the interest of those working in professional organisations is to retain their regular salaries and to advance their careers, which sometimes puts them at odds with the passionate engagement of spontaneous groups and organisations.13

  • 14 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. ci (...)
  • 15 Ibid., p. 79.
  • 16 DELLA PORTA Donatella, DIANI Mario, Social Movements: An Introduction, 2nd Edition, Oxford, Blackwe (...)

5In order to explore the specifics of civic environmental activism in Eastern European countries, Petrova and Tarrow14 coined the term transactional activism, contrasted with participatory activism, which is based on the mass mobilisation of citizens. Transactional activism describes relations – permanent or temporary – between organised non-state actors, and between them and political parties, government officials and other institutions. The transactions between these actors include the exchange of information and material resources, joint efforts in the implementation of certain projects and other forms of cooperation.15 They argued that Eastern Europe is dominated by transactional activism, while its participatory counterpart is largely absent. For empirical exploration of these different modes of environmental activism in Serbia and how they interact, we rely on a complementary distinction between participatory and professional social movement organisations developed by Donatella della Porta and Mario Diani.16 This distinction is more appropriate for our research aim as it takes participatory or grassroots initiatives and professional environmental activism as borderline examples on the spectrum of possible modes of environmental activism and defines the main characteristics of both types of activism in terms of ideal types. Environmental organisations and initiatives are, therefore, closer to the grassroots (participatory) type if they develop in reaction to problems faced by local communities (such as high levels of pollution, a lack of public infrastructure, construction on green spaces, etc.); if they have an informal, horizontal structure and participatory decision-making procedures; if they rely on strategies of mass mobilisation and volunteering; if they last until the problem is resolved or while the enthusiasm of their participants persists; and if they struggle to sustain or scale-up their activities or produce significant social impacts. On the other hand, environmental organisations are closer to the professional end of the spectrum if they develop as a result of the work of environmental professionals (domain experts and professional activists); if they mobilise financial resources from various sources; if they are prone to dependence on institutional sponsors; if they engage in establishing cooperative relationships with government officials; if they employ advocacy and lobbying as their main forms activism; if they have strict membership procedures, written rules and statutes; if they have non-participative management structures in which the leaders make most of the decisions; if they have paid staff; if they have a small and formal membership base, and weak connections with grassroots activism.

  • 17 DIVIAK, MAZAK, “Transactional Activism without Transactions,” op. cit., p. 204.
  • 18 Vetta Theodora, Democracy Struggles: NGOs and the Politics of Aid in Serbia, New York and Oxford, B (...)
  • 19 DIVIAK, MAZAK, “Transactional Activism without Transactions,” op. cit.; PETROVA, TARROW, “Transacti (...)
  • 20 CHECKEL Jeffrey, “International Institutions and Socialization in Europe: Introduction and Framewor (...)
  • 21 SOARE, TUFIS, “Roșia Montană, The Revolution of our Generation,” op. cit.; JACOBSSON Kerstin (ed. (...)

6Despite the observed downsides of professional activism (especially when donor-stimulated growth hinders the organic development of grassroots initiatives), some Eastern European researchers see professional activism as proof that civil society is not as passive and weak as depicted in the earlier literature on postsocialist societies.17 Moreover, external patronage is seen as a significant source of political autonomy for non-governmental organisations in the context of semi-democratic regimes.18 In that sense, it is important to note that professional environmental organisations in Eastern Europe have addressed issues that are pushed to the margins of public interest by priorities such as economic development and institutional consolidation, and thus have achieved some progress by influencing changes to environmental legislation and its more assiduous implementation.19 Additionally, since these organisations have contributed to spreading environmental discourses and knowledge transfer through processes of international socialisation, they could also be seen as a hotbed of new forms of struggle, on the back of which spontaneous initiatives that authentically contextualise international issues and conflicts might grow.20 Indeed, research findings show that over the last decade, with the rise of urban movements, various forms of civic self-organisation and everyday activism, as well as a series of protests against austerity and the crisis of democracy, grassroots activism in Eastern Europe is gaining momentum.21 To what extent this is true of environmental activism in Serbia, we will explore in the following sections. Before that, we will briefly outline the specifics of the Serbian context, comparing it to the experience of postsocialist countries that have already become EU member states.

The contextual specifics of the development of environmental activism in Serbia

  • 22 FAGAN Adam, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma: Paths to Civil Society or State-Building?, London and New York (...)
  • 23 PETROVIĆ “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in th (...)

7Similar to other Central and Eastern European countries (CEE), the process of European integration, which began in Serbia after the collapse of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in the year 2000, is considered to be one of the most important factors in shaping the country’s environmental activism.22 In addition to direct financial assistance, political pressures imposed by the EU have contributed significantly to the development of environmental legislation and to a legal framework for the activities of civil society organisations. Yet even though the European Union and other foreign donors have been providing various forms of political and financial support to civil society organisations for more than two decades, research shows that these organisations remain largely excluded from decision-making processes in Serbia.23

  • 24 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Ba (...)
  • 25 PETROVIĆ “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; FAGAN, EJDUS “Lost at the Waterfront,” op. cit (...)

8Several factors distinguish Serbia from other postsocialist countries, especially when it comes to countries that are now in the EU. The first of these is the prolonged and difficult process of postsocialist transformation that took place in Serbia’s context of wars, state disintegration and economic collapse, which significantly slowed the adoption of the European acquis, including models of cooperative and participative governance and civic activism.24 As a consequence of the turmoil of this socioeconomic transformation, research has shown that, when compared to other issues, such as the economy, environmental problems have not been a priority either for citizens or governments.25

  • 26 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.; FAGAN, “The New Kids on the Block,” op. cit.
  • 27 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.
  • 28 CISAR, VRABLIKOVA, “The Europeanization of Social Movements in the Czech Republic,” op. cit.
  • 29 WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit.
  • 30 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

9Secondly, EU financial assistance became available in larger amounts only after 2000 and was mainly directed towards building up state institutions, economic development, reviving infrastructure and cross-border cooperation. The support to civil society organisations mostly remained indirect and focused on frameworks of state capacity building.26 Environmental issues became a focus for foreign donors relatively late (only after 2007 in any substantial sense). In CEE countries, environmental programmes began to develop in the mid-1990s. As members of the European Union for more than a decade, these countries also have access to development funds, which are not (fully) available to candidate countries.27 Upon acceding to the EU, for example, Czech environmental organisations gained access to additional resources that produced changes in national political structures, and opened up opportunities for supranational action.28 In contrast, the “Brussels Arena” has been gradually opening up for civil society organisations from the Western Balkans only in the last few years.29 Due to the limited pool of resources, competition between environmental organisations in Serbia is more fierce. Meanwhile, foreign support for networking between civil society organisations (important for countervailing competition and conflicts over project funding) became available in the Western Balkans relatively late and in considerably smaller amounts than in countries that had already joined the EU.30

  • 31 PETROVIĆ Jelisaveta, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.
  • 32 FAGAN, “The New Kids on the Block,” op. cit.; FAGAN, SIRCAR, Europeanization of the Western Balkans(...)
  • 33 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; OŠTRIĆ Zoran, “Ekološki pokreti u Jugoslavij (...)
  • 34 PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.

10The third factor contributing to Serbia’s distinctive context is that large international environmental organisations (such as Greenpeace) do not have representatives in Serbia, which places domestic environmental organisations on the periphery of the global socio-environmental struggle and deprives them of important allies.31 Moreover, due to the stereotypical image of weak (environmental) civil society in postsocialist countries, developmental agencies come to the Western Balkans with the assumption that civil society organisations and environmental protection are underdeveloped and that the building of environmental governance must start from scratch.32 Indigenous environmental organisations and existing resources (developed in the pre-socialist and socialist periods) – such as a tradition of volunteering, locally-specific knowledge, as well as the social capital of nature conservation, mountaineering and other similar associations – has remained largely neglected.33 Instead, new professional environmental organisations were created artificially and then supported selectively, pushing aside previously established environmental organisations and spontaneous initiatives.34

  • 35 MIKLJA Dragan, JEREMIĆ Petar, Nuklearne elektrane – ukroćena goropad, prilog javnoj raspravi o ene (...)
  • 36 DRAGOVIĆ-SOSO Jasna, Saviours of the Nation: Serbia’s Intellectual Opposition and the Revival of Na (...)
  • 37 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; FAG (...)
  • 38 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne s (...)

11Fourthly, unlike in some other CEE countries, environmental issues in Serbia generally failed to enter the political field in the final years of the socialist regime – except very briefly as a part of anti-nuclear initiatives in the mid-1980s.35 In the years preceding the collapse of the socialist system, there was no mass mobilisation around environmental issues that could have formed a basis for the later development of a modern environmental movement, as was the case in most Eastern European countries. Mobilisation on national/ethnic grounds prevailed instead.36 There is, therefore, no legacy of political environmental struggles on which present-day environmental organisations could build. Additionally, although foreign donors largely supported the activities of civil society organisations that were critical of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s and played an important role in the overthrow thereof, this practice did not continue after 2000. As a rule, donors support projects aimed at raising the state’s capacities for environmental protection and establishing cooperation between the civil sector and state institutions (i.e. building good environmental governance), while organisations critical of state institutions and state-led governance were mostly left without support.37 In the absence of alternative voices, therefore, a discourse around sustainable development and ecological modernisation that is supported by donor policies is strongly represented in Serbia. At the heart of this conceptual approach lies a reformist attitude towards the existing system of environmental protection, which aims to ensure unhindered economic growth.38

  • 39 BORZEL Tanja, “New Modes of Governance and Accession: The Paradox of Double Weakness,” in Tanja Bor (...)
  • 40 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne s (...)

12Finally, although part of the donor agenda is to strengthen the capacity of professional activists so they can become competent enough to be involved in decision-making processes, programmes in this area are a novelty in Serbia.39 The resistance of the old command-and-control approach, with its underdeveloped administrative capacities, is sufficient to prevent civil society organisations from gaining real access to the political arena.40 Without external support, however, environmental organisations would be weaker still and thus incapable of imposing themselves on the authorities as respected players in the political field. The effects of EU patronage in Serbia are therefore ambiguous when it comes to the development of environmental civil society. On the one hand, this patronage has ignored local grassroots initiatives and the legacies of previous environmental engagement; on the other hand, it has established new professional environmental organisations and somewhat opened political opportunities for all environmental organisations.

  • 41 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. ci (...)

13Overall, the conditions for the development of both professional and participatory environmental activism in Serbia are somewhat less favourable than in the CEE countries. Despite the existence of formal opportunities for political participation, environmental organisations of both types face specific obstacles that hamper efficient communication between them and governing structures as well as their mutual cooperation. In the following section, building upon the mentioned debate on postsocialist civil society – the dichotomy between professional and participatory activism –41 we focus particularly on the relationship between professional and grassroots environmental organisations. We consider that exploring challenges to cooperation between professional and grassroots organisations gives an important insight into consolidation of the environmental movement in Serbia.

Research methods and findings

  • 42 CARMIN JoAnne, “Voluntary Associations, Professional Organisations and the Environmental Movement i (...)

14In focusing on relationships between professional environmental organisations and local grassroots initiatives we start from the assumption that both types of activism are much needed to sustain the environmental movement and thus contribute significantly to protecting the environment. Grassroots initiatives are invaluable as they are usually the first to identify and respond to emerging issues; professional organisations have the capacity to shape the policy agenda and affect its outcomes. The joint engagement of these two types of organisations makes it possible for the environmental movement to maintain a presence, thrive and advance environmental policy.42 In other words, we believe that the different roles these organisations play in the public arena are complementary and that each of them has a particular and irreplaceable significance in the system of environmental protection. However, the uneven development of these two types of activism, inter-organisational competition and/or a lack of cooperation may weaken the environmental movement and consequently produce suboptimal results regarding environmental protection.

  • 43 The largest change was donors’ support to the activities of grassroots organisations through differ (...)
  • 44 All five interviews were conducted with representatives of the Belgrade-based grassroots initiative (...)

15Our analysis is based on 50 face-to-face, semi-structured interviews conducted over several phases. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and then analysed using MaxQDA software. Most of the interviews were conducted in 2011 (N = 40), but that material was complemented with new interviews in two additional phases. In 2015 (N=5), the aim was to capture new developments in the environmental sector in Serbia and new international donor policies.43 In 2020 (N=5),44 additional interviews were again conducted to deepen the perspective on grassroots activism. In total, we conducted interviews with 35 representatives of professional organisations and with 15 representatives of grassroots organisations.

16Participating organisations were selected on the basis of several criteria: their size (large/medium/small) as determined from their annual budgets and number of employees; the period of their establishment (pre-socialist, socialist, postsocialist); the location of their registration or engagement (with a territorially proportional distribution, though most are based in larger cities). At the outset, we consulted the Database of Environmental Organisations45 and Serbian Business Registers Agency46 and selected several of the most prominent organisations. Then, using the snowball sampling technique, we selected respondents from smaller environmental organisations. The representatives of grassroots initiatives, which are usually not registered in official databases, were identified through social media (mostly Facebook groups and official Facebook pages), as well as through personal contacts.

  • 47 FAGAN, SIRCAR, Europeanization of the Western Balkans, op. cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil S (...)

17In the following analysis, we will firstly focus on relations between professional environmental organisations in order to outline the characteristics of the professional/transactional form of activism.47 We further focus on the relations between grassroots organisations, pointing out to the problems they face in scaling-up their activities. Finally, in answer to our research question, we examine relations between professional and grassroots organisations, exploring possibilities for the creation of a consolidated environmental movement in Serbia.

  • 48 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

18We found that relationships between professional organisations largely depend on funding – the overall sums and how it is distributed. Funding for professional environmental organisations in Serbia comes from various sources, depending on the size of organisation. While small organisations source their funding domestically, from the state budget or local community budgets, the larger organisations are mostly funded by project grants from foreign governments and international organisations. For instance, as much as 80% of the revenues of the largest professional environmental organisations in Serbia come from foreign sources.48 Calls for project funding create a general atmosphere of competition that not only decreases possibilities for cooperation among professional organisations but also leads to various forms of unethical behaviour, such as retaining or concealing information and relying on personal or political connections with decision-makers to gain an advantage. Donors have recognised the adverse effects of this kind of competition and have started to encourage the formation of consortia by redirecting part of their funds to financing environmental networks with the idea of strengthening partnerships. Most representatives of professional environmental organisations are, however, reluctant to join such consortia, seeing other professional environmental organisations as their main opponents in the competition over limited resources. This perspective was voiced several times in our interviews:

  • 49 Local idiom signifying too many parties are interested in one thing.

Conflicts [between professional organisations] are this intense for one simple reason – a small pond, full of crocodiles.49 There aren’t enough funds. (Eko centar [Eco Centre], Belgrade, 2011)

[Professional] environmental organisations do not cooperate, they act independently of one another and compete over who will get the project [money]. Everyone looks out for their own interests and there is no issue that everyone could agree on or unite around. (Pokret gorana Pančevo [The Goran Movement of Pančevo], Pančevo, 2011)

19The research findings also show that networks stay active only during the project cycle (usually 1-3 years), while any interest in working together rapidly diminishes upon the conclusion of project funding.

I haven’t heard of a single network that continued to exist after the project ended. Networks do not outlive the project. On the other hand, there is not always a clear awareness that we are stronger together. Envy, vanity, lack of tolerance between organisations, hinders cooperation. Environmental NGOs are distrustful of one another; they think that someone else will get the money. (Mladi istraživači Srbije [Young researchers of Serbia], Belgrade, 2015)

20Contrary to the experience of professional environmental organisations where “many became interested in ecology when money from the foreign donors arrived (Pokret gorana Vojvodine [The Goran Movement of Vojvodina], 2011),” cooperation between grassroots environmental initiatives tends to develop around a common environmental problem. For example, in the case of an initiative to prevent illegal construction in Belgrade’s protected Košutnjak woodland area, according to the interviews with representatives of Bitka za Košutnjak [Battle for Košutnjak], cooperation with other spontaneous groups is mostly based on a common interest to protect this part of Belgrade. They stress that they want to contribute as much as they can to achieving a common goal, and that the common struggle is what gives them the strength to continue.

  • 50 Where we cite different respondents from the same organisation, we use the code RSP (Respondent), f (...)

I was thrilled to see that there are people who want to fight for something that is good, so I am here now, to help them, and to do something that is good too. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP3,50 Belgrade, 2020)

We support other groups that engage in solving environmental problems, especially around bigger problems that they cannot solve on their own. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP1, Belgrade, 2020)

21Cooperation with members of similar grassroots initiatives is usually mutual and consists mostly of promoting other groups’ activities on social media. Additionally, members of such initiatives help one another by collecting signatures for petitions and attend one another’s protest meetings.

Various groups that we helped in the past, we expect them now to support us, to show up when we take some action. If they have a presence on social media, then we expect them to announce when something is happening with us. It’s a kind of mutual assistance. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Belgrade, 2020)

22Trust among grassroots organisations is fragile and limited, however, allowing for cooperation between only a relatively small number of organisations whose leaders know one another personally. For example, in the case of Bitka za Košutnjak, the respondents mentioned only a few activist organisations with which they actively cooperate.

Here only DRSP [Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina] and Savski nasip [Sava Embankment] are honest, and maybe a couple of other organisations – they are not here because of the money or funds. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Belgrade, 2020)

23Thus, lack of trust and selectivity in establishing cooperative networks makes it difficult for grassroots initiatives, too, to create the critical mass necessary to tackle larger environmental problems. It also hinders scaling-up and the creation of wider alliances that could integrate a variety of local environmental struggles into a single movement. The representatives of activist associations are aware of their limited capacity to take on larger environmental issues.

There were some attempts to create a larger initiative where we would join forces and solve problems together. However, this is quite complicated. When the number of organisations and people increases, then there are always a lot of “inserted elements,” all kinds of people…. And people in our country, they don’t know how to organise around a common idea and instead they drift apart due to differing opinions. I don’t know what is happening with that joint initiative, so we are going on with our cause. We have a problem that we are dealing with and it does not depend on anybody else but ourselves. In essence, we rely only on our money and our free time. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP3, Belgrade, 2020)

24Although there have been some setbacks and personal animosities even between grassroots organisations, their attitude towards professional organisations is characterised by suspicion and mistrust. Representatives of grassroots initiatives believe that professional organisations are generally not interested in cooperation and, if they are, it can only mean one of two things: they want to justify donor funding by engaging in some environmental activism or they plan to “take over” the protest.

If you’re here only to justify your salary to the donors, I’m not interested, I won’t cooperate with you! (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP3, Belgrade, 2020)

25From the perspective of grassroots activists, the professional environmental arena is a battleground for the interests of professional organisations.

There are no friendships in environmental activism in Serbia… Everyone is looking out for their own interests in this “hot topic.” (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Belgrade, 2020)

26Vigorous criticism is levelled at professional organisations (the so-called fondaši or fundraisers) for their insensitivity to local issues because such issues do not generate income.

27They are not “environmental warriors,” they are “fund hunters”… They are fighting for what is lucrative. They are not honest… Ecology is just an excuse for them. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Beograd, 2020)

We did not have the support of [professional] NGOs. On the contrary, one foundation refused to support the initiative, they did not want to give us money or provide any assistance, even though an important environmental issue is at stake. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP1, Belgrade, 2020)

If they [professional organisations] did their job, we wouldn’t be needed. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP3, Belgrade, 2020)

28On the other hand, grassroots organisations see themselves as “fighter organisations” (Srednjoškolski ekološki centar [High School Environmental Center], Pančevo, 2011) that “organise concrete actions, not some pointless social media campaigns and such” (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP4, Belgrade, 2020). Members of Bitka za Košutnjak claim that they are ready to cooperate with everyone, but they do not allow other organisations to display their symbols at protests, as certain political organisations have attempted. In short, there are significant obstacles on both sides that hinder cooperation between professional organisations and spontaneous initiatives. Suspicion and fear should not be underestimated because – as the quotes suggest – the presence of professional organisations can take over, “dilute” or manipulate an important environmental cause for other interests.

29Representatives of professional environmental organisations, for their part, also admit that they rarely support their grassroots counterparts, especially when they make radical claims or are overtly critical of government officials and big business. In their opinion, grassroots organisations are not capable of articulating demands in a way that is legally recognised and respected by decision-makers, nor do they manage to impose themselves on the authorities as relevant partners.

The idea to construct nuclear power plants comes up, grassroots are against it. Then, there is a plan to build small hydropower plants, grassroots organisations are against it again. Then someone mentions coal, grassroots are, once again, against it. And then the question can be asked: What, in the end, are they for? (Ambasadori održivog razvoja [Environmental Ambassadors for Sustainable Development], Belgrade, 2015)

30According to the representatives of professional organisations, the impulsive ad hoc actions of grassroots organisations provoke negative reactions from other actors and result in more harm than good, weakening environmental civil society as a whole.

31Similarly, professional organisations rarely look to support grassroots initiatives at all. They do not take up issues being voiced from these initiatives but look to project funding and management to determine the issues they engage. Projects usually last from one to three years and, as a consequence, problems usually remain unsolved – that is, after the project cycle they are no longer tackled. Professional organisations accept this as an undesirable but inevitable outcome.

We do not have the capacity to deal with anything else on the side, although we would really like to help solve other environmental problems in our city. Besides, the lack of regular funding is a serious problem, because it is not possible to work on a certain issue permanently. When the project period is over, we no longer have the funds to deal with this problem and we are forced to stop working on it, that is, to move on. (Eko klub Bor [Eco Club Bor], Bor, 2011)

32The lack of support from professional organisations and institutional donors forces grassroots organisations to finance their activities out of their own pockets, which makes their long-term viability rather uncertain.

The situation is difficult; we are literally giving our last cash on leaflets. We push ourselves beyond the limit. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP5, Belgrade, 2020)

33However, the representatives of grassroots organisations do not think that self-financing is necessarily a bad thing. They believe that an independent source of income protects them from anyone doubting their motives. They are considerably suspicious of the motives of professional organisations that use money from funds to finance their activities and salaries.

We didn’t want to insist on donations and ask for help because all these insincere organisations are doing so ... that’s a sleazy approach and we don’t want to be perceived in such a way…. If someone lives from a problem, are they interested in solving the problem or in continuing to live from that problem? (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Belgrade, 2020)

34Nevertheless, despite the many obstacles and disavowals of collaboration, representatives of both professional and grassroots organisations have pointed to some positive aspects of networking and an indicated a desire for the creation of a consolidated environmental movement in Serbia.

35On the part of the professional organisations, special emphasis was placed on the importance of networking for solving environmental problems which – because of size and geographical distribution – exceed the capabilities of one organisation to address. The recent shift in foreign donor funding modalities towards supporting grassroots forms of action has also caused a slight alteration in the way professional organisations work.

We have introduced a consortia system, to include small environmental organisations, which are aware of local problems but do not have the capacity to deal with them. This has proved to be a good decision. Large and small organisations needed each other.... We have conditioned the distribution of the budget so that neither partner can get more than 50%.... (Regionalni ekološki centar [Regional Environmental Centre], Belgrade, 2015)

36Organisations working together is seen as one of the key elements necessary for achieving a lasting positive impact on the environment. Although in practice spontaneous and sustained networking (outside the scopes of the project) is missing, professional organisations declaratively support networking, acknowledging its importance, and assess the potential contribution of organisations acting independently as modest.

Networking is a necessary part of the creation of an environmental movement, which is essential for solving accumulated environmental problems. (Društvo mladih istaživača Bor [Young researchers of Bor], Bor, 2011)

Networking is good, simply because you can’t do everything on your own and you’re not the smartest for everything. Regional cooperation is especially important, because we all share the same space, rivers flow across state borders. Any affiliation to a network is good if that network is purposeful in a way that achieves the goals set. This will be especially important and necessary in the coming period, probably crucial for the survival of environmental organisations, because they will not be able to independently implement projects in Serbia, let alone beyond. They will have to cooperate with other organisations. Networking is also good because the synergy of several organisations can have a much greater impact on improving state environmental policy. (Ecotopia, Belgrade, 2011)

37The desire of grassroots organisations to cooperate comes from the practical needs of fieldwork for which they lack financial and organisational resources and manpower. They also notice that citizens want to support their actions and that environmental awareness is on the rise, and they believe therefore that networking is possible and necessary in order to achieve more significant impacts. Representatives of grassroots organisations perceive these changes as something that can contribute to creating networks of environmental organisations and developing joint action.

The environmental awareness of people is still on the rise in Serbia.... I think that people are more and more activated and, in the future, that environmental awareness will only grow and there will be more and more joint environmental initiatives … a good example is Defend of the Rivers of Stara Planina. (Bitka za Košutnjak, RSP2, Belgrade, 2020)

Discussion and conclusion

38The analysis presented in this paper was built around one of the key debates in the literature on postsocialist civil society – the dichotomy between professional and participatory activism. We particularly focused on the relationship between professional and participatory (grassroots) forms of environmental activism in Serbia, questioning whether they tend to reinforce or impede one another.

  • 51 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; KER-LINDSAY James, “Conclusion,” in Vesna Bojičić-Džel (...)
  • 52 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne s (...)

39Many researchers (including the authors themselves) are sceptical about the activities of professional organisations, which are carried out at the behest of foreign donors51 for several reasons, which have already been discussed. The research results partially support this pessimism regarding the negative aspects of a bloated professional activism sector in the context of underdeveloped grassroots activism. However, the fact that professional organisations do exhibit a certain potential for strengthening civil society in Serbia and contributing to environmental protection, primarily through their knowledge and expertise, should be taken into account. Moreover, despite the aforementioned shortcomings of professional organisations and the lack of cooperation with local initiatives, it remains a fact that foreign patronage has breathed life into the environmental sector in Serbia. It is doubtful when, or if, the topic of environmental protection would have appeared on the agenda had it not been for external pressure and support. In addition to introducing some order and higher standards into the overall system of environmental protection, the benefits of EU support for the activities of professional environmental organisations are also reflected in raising environmental awareness, which increases the sensitivity of ordinary citizens to environmental issues.52

  • 53 FAGAN, SIRCAR, “Activist Citizenship in Southeast Europe,” op. cit.

40New tendencies of mobilisation around environmental issues that appear in the form of activist citizenship53 can also be considered important for the formation of participatory environmental activism in Serbia. Whether the development of an ecological lifestyle and occasional environmental protests will lead to a joint action for better environment – by producing a single environmental movement – remains an open question.

  • 54 FAGAN, EJDUS, “Lost at the Waterfront,” op. cit.

41To summarise, although the development of grassroots initiatives in Serbia is visible, their connections with professional actors remain weak. On the one hand, this is due to the lack of interest of professional organisations for issues that do not appear on the agenda of donors, as well as their reluctance to adopt a critical stance towards investments with questionable environmental impacts and, in so doing, participate in conflicts with decision-makers. On the other hand, grassroots activists lack sufficient trust to cooperate with professional actors, whom they perceive as “fund hunters”. Exploring the environmental aspects of the protest against the construction of the Belgrade Waterfront project, Adam Fagan and Filip Ejdus54 also warned of a missing link between professional environmental organisations and grassroots initiatives. The example of Bitka za Košutnjak shows too that grassroots initiatives in Serbia are reluctant to cooperate with professional organisations and political parties as they fear their efforts will be taken over or instrumentalised for other purposes. Moreover, both professional and grassroots organisations lack enough trust to act together with organisations outside the narrow circle of “friendly” organisations. This low coalition potential, atomised work and lack of trust are significant barriers to the scaling-up of environmental initiatives and integrating isolated local struggles into a joint effort to benefit from the effects of synergy.

  • 55 CISAR, “Social Movements after Communism,” op. cit.; SOARE, TUFIS, “Roșia Montană, the Revolution (...)
  • 56 MIŠIĆ, OBYDENKOVA, “Environmental Conflict, Renewable Energy, or Both?,” op. cit.

42It remains to be seen whether the European integration process will lead to the establishment of stronger bonds between different civic actors in Serbia, as was the case with the Czech Republic and Romania a few years earlier.55 Recent protests against the construction of mini-hydropower plants in the Stara Planina region, which brought together various actors56 and drew greater involvement of environmental organisations, suggests that a stronger and more integrated environmental civil society might already be developing. It is encouraging that environmental issues are gaining mobilising potential and that the development of participatory environmental action is evident. These initiatives will, however, gain importance only if they manage to scale up and outgrow the boundaries of local context. Until then, we can expect professional organisations to prevail, with only occasional collaboration with citizen initiatives and without long-term sustainable effects on the consolidation of the environmental movement in Serbia.

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Notes

1 The realization of this research was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia as part of the financing of scientific research work at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy (contract number 451-03-68 / 2022-14 / 200163).

2 Petrović Jelisaveta, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope: stvaranje ekološkog pokreta u Srbiji ["Ecology" on the Periphery of Europe: The Creation of an Environmental Movement in Serbia], Belgrade, Službeni glasnik, 2020; Petrović Mina, Vukelić Jelisaveta (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru: Izazovi participativnog pristupa upravljanju okruženjem [Environmental Protection in Pancevo and Bor: Challenges of a Participatory Approach to Environmental Management], Belgrade, Filozofski fakultet, ISI FF, 2013.

3 Fagan Adam, Sircar Indraneel, Europeanization of the Western Balkans: Environmental Governance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, Hampshire, Palgrave MacMillan, 2015; Petrović, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

4 Fagan Adam, Ejdus Filip, “Lost at The Waterfront? Explaining the Absence of Green Organisations in the Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own Movement,” Environmental Politics, 2020, DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2020.1720473; Mišić Mile, Obydenkova Anastassia, “Environmental Conflict, Renewable Energy, or Both? Public Opinion on Small Hydropower Plants in Serbia,” Post-Communist Economies, 2021, DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2021.1943928.

5 Mišić, Obydenkova, “Environmental Conflict, Renewable Energy, or Both?,” op. cit.

6 Petrović Jelisaveta, “The Transformative Power of Urban Movements on the European Periphery: The Case of the Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own Initiative,” in Jelisaveta Petrović, Vera Backović (eds), Experiencing Postsocialist Capitalism: Urban Changes and Challenges in Serbia, Belgrade, Službeni glasnik, 2019, p. 171-188.

7 Petrovar Ksenija, “Okrugli sto – mreža naselja u umreženom društvu: društvene i prostorne promene u nekim tranzicijskim zemljama” [Round Table – A Network of Settlements in a Networked Society: Social and Spatial Changes in some Transition Countries], Sociologija sela, vol. 171, no 1, 2006, p. 33-47; Petrović Mina, Transformacija gradova: ka depolitizaciji urbanog pitanja [Transformation of Cities: Towards Depoliticisation of the Urban Issue], Belgrade, ISI FF, 2009; Vujović Sreten, Petrović Mina, “Belgrade Post-Socialist Urban Evolution: Reflections by the Actors in the Development Process,” in Kiril Stanilov (ed.), Cities in Transition: The Restructuring of Urban Space in Post-Socialist Central and Eastern Europe, New York and London, Springer, 2007, p. 361-384; Perić Ana, “Public Engagement under Authoritarian Entrepreneurialism: The Belgrade Waterfront Project,” Urban Research & Practice, vol. 13, no 2, 2021, p. 213-227.

8 PETROVA Tzveta, TARROW Sidney, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity: The Puzzle of East Central Europe,” Comparative Political Studies, vol. 40, no 1, 2007, p. 74-94; CISAR Ondrej, “Externally Sponsored Contention: The Channeling of Environmental Movement Organizations in the Czech Republic after the Fall of Communism,” Environmental Politics, vol. 19, no 5, 2010, p. 736-755; CISAR Ondrej, VRABLIKOVA Katerina, “The Europeanization of Social Movements in the Czech Republic: The EU and Local Women’s Groups,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 43, no 15, 2010, p. 209-219; CISAR Ondrej, “Social Movements after Communism,” in Adam Fagan, Petr Kopecky (eds), The Routledge Handbook of East European Politics, London and New York, Routledge, 2018, p. 184-196.

9 FAGAN Adam, Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic: The Environmental Movement in the Transition Process, Cheltenham and Northampton, Edward Elgar, 2004; FAGAN Adam, “Neither North nor South: The Environmental and Civil Society in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Environmental Politics, vol. 15, no 05, 2006, p. 787-802; FAGAN Adam, “The New Kids on the Block: Building Environmental Governance in the Western Balkans,” Acta Politica, vol. 45, no 1-2, 2010, p. 203-228; DIVIAK Tomas, MAZAK Jaromir, “Transactional Activism without Transactions: Network Perspective on Anti-corruption Activism in the Czech Republic,” Social Movement Studies, vol. 17, no 2, 2018, p. 203-218.

10 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. cit.; CISAR, “Externally Sponsored Contention,” op. cit.; CISAR, VRABLIKOVA, “The Europeanization of Social Movements in the Czech Republic,” op. cit.

11 CARMIN JoAnne, “Voluntary Associations, Professional Organisations and the Environmental Movement in the United States,” Environmental Politics, vol. 8, no 1, 1999, p. 101-121.

12 FAGAN, Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic, op. cit.; FAGAN, “Neither North nor South,” op. cit.; FAGAN, “The New Kids on the Block,” op. cit.; CISAR, “Externally Sponsored Contention,” op. cit.

13 KOVACH Imre, KUCEROVA Eva, “The Social Context of Project Proliferation: The Rise of a Project Class,” Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, vol. 11, no 3, 2009, p. 203-221.

14 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. cit.

15 Ibid., p. 79.

16 DELLA PORTA Donatella, DIANI Mario, Social Movements: An Introduction, 2nd Edition, Oxford, Blackwell, 2006, p. 140.

17 DIVIAK, MAZAK, “Transactional Activism without Transactions,” op. cit., p. 204.

18 Vetta Theodora, Democracy Struggles: NGOs and the Politics of Aid in Serbia, New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books; WUNSCH Natasha, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans: From Mobilisation to Empowerment, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

19 DIVIAK, MAZAK, “Transactional Activism without Transactions,” op. cit.; PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. cit.; CISAR, “Externally Sponsored Contention,” op. cit.

20 CHECKEL Jeffrey, “International Institutions and Socialization in Europe: Introduction and Framework,” International Organization, vol. 59, no 4, 2005, p. 801-826; CISAR, “Externally Sponsored Contention,” op. cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit.; CISAR, “Social Movements after Communism,” op. cit.; SOARE Sorina, TUFIS Claudiu, “Roșia Montană, The Revolution of our Generation: From Environmental to Total Activism,” European Politics and Society, vol. 22, no 3, 2020, p. 1-18.

21 SOARE, TUFIS, “Roșia Montană, The Revolution of our Generation,” op. cit.; JACOBSSON Kerstin (ed.), Urban Grassroots Movements in Central and Eastern Europe, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 2015; PIOTROWSKI Grzegorz, “Social Movement or Subculture? Alterglobalists in Central and Eastern Europe,” Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, vol. 5, no 2, 2013, p. 399-421; PIOTROWSKI Grzegorz, “What are Eastern European Social Movements and How to Study Them?,” Intersections, East European Journal of Society and Politics, vol. 1, no 3, 2015, p. 4-15; CISAR, “Social Movements after Communism,” op. cit.; KRASTEV Ivan, Ometena demokratija: Globalna politika protesta [Disrupted Democracy: A Global Politics of Protest], Belgrade, Službeni glasnik, 2017; FAGAN Adam, SIRCAR Indraneel, “Activist Citizenship in Southeast Europe,” Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 69, no 9, 2017, p. 1337-1345.

22 FAGAN Adam, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma: Paths to Civil Society or State-Building?, London and New York, I.B. Tauris, 2010; FAGAN Adam, WUNSCH Natasha, “Fostering Institutionalisation? The Impact of the EU Accession Process on State–Civil Society Relations in Serbia,” Acta Politica, vol. 54, n1, 2018, p. 607-624; PETROVIĆ “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

23 PETROVIĆ “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit., p. 99.

24 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

25 PETROVIĆ “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; FAGAN, EJDUS “Lost at the Waterfront,” op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.

26 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.; FAGAN, “The New Kids on the Block,” op. cit.

27 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op.cit.

28 CISAR, VRABLIKOVA, “The Europeanization of Social Movements in the Czech Republic,” op. cit.

29 WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit.

30 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

31 PETROVIĆ Jelisaveta, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

32 FAGAN, “The New Kids on the Block,” op. cit.; FAGAN, SIRCAR, Europeanization of the Western Balkans, op. cit.

33 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; OŠTRIĆ Zoran, “Ekološki pokreti u Jugoslaviji 1971-1991” [Environmental Movements in Yugoslavia 1971-1991], Socijalna ekologija, vol. 1, no 1, 1992, p. 83-104.

34 PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.

35 MIKLJA Dragan, JEREMIĆ Petar, Nuklearne elektrane – ukroćena goropad, prilog javnoj raspravi o energetskoj budućnosti Jugoslavije [Nuclear Power Plants – Tamed Monster, Contribution to the Public Debate on the Energy Future of Yugoslavia], Belgrade, Pro et Contra, 1987.

36 DRAGOVIĆ-SOSO Jasna, Saviours of the Nation: Serbia’s Intellectual Opposition and the Revival of Nationalism, New York, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002.

37 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; FAGAN, EJDUS, “Lost at the Waterfront,” op. cit.

38 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.

39 BORZEL Tanja, “New Modes of Governance and Accession: The Paradox of Double Weakness,” in Tanja Borzel (ed.), Coping with Accession to the European Union: New Modes of Environmental Governance, London, Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, p. 7-31.

40 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.

41 PETROVA, TARROW, “Transactional and Participatory Activism in the Emerging European Polity,” op. cit.

42 CARMIN JoAnne, “Voluntary Associations, Professional Organisations and the Environmental Movement in the United States,” op. cit.

43 The largest change was donors’ support to the activities of grassroots organisations through different mechanisms, one being the creation of consortia with bigger (professional) environmental organisations.

44 All five interviews were conducted with representatives of the Belgrade-based grassroots initiative, Bitka za Košutnjak (Battle for Košutnjak). We chose to interview members of this initiative as it was one of the most active at the time and gathered different actors: from concerned local residents to environmental activists engaged in other initiatives such as Odbranimo reke Stare planine (Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina).

45 Online: http://www.epodzaci.org (accessed in December 2020).

46 Online: https://www.apr.gov.rs/home.1435.html (accessed in December 2020).

47 FAGAN, SIRCAR, Europeanization of the Western Balkans, op. cit.; WUNSCH, EU Enlargement and Civil Society in the Western Balkans, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

48 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

49 Local idiom signifying too many parties are interested in one thing.

50 Where we cite different respondents from the same organisation, we use the code RSP (Respondent), followed by a serial number.

51 FAGAN, Europe’s Balkan Dilemma, op. cit.; KER-LINDSAY James, “Conclusion,” in Vesna Bojičić-Dželilović, James Ker-Lindsay, Denisa Kostovicova (eds), Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, p. 257-264.

52 PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, VUKELIĆ (eds), Zaštita životne sredine u Pančevu i Boru, op. cit.; FAGAN, SIRCAR, Europeanization of the Western Balkans, op. cit.; PETROVIĆ, “Ekologija” na periferiji Evrope, op. cit.

53 FAGAN, SIRCAR, “Activist Citizenship in Southeast Europe,” op. cit.

54 FAGAN, EJDUS, “Lost at the Waterfront,” op. cit.

55 CISAR, “Social Movements after Communism,” op. cit.; SOARE, TUFIS, “Roșia Montană, the Revolution of our Generation,” op. cit.

56 MIŠIĆ, OBYDENKOVA, “Environmental Conflict, Renewable Energy, or Both?,” op. cit.

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Jelisaveta Vukelić, Mina Petrović et Ana Kukuridi, « Environmental Activism in Serbia: Challenges to Cooperation Between Professional and Grassroots Organisations »Balkanologie [En ligne], Vol. 16 n° 2 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2021, consulté le 18 mai 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/balkanologie/3485 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/balkanologie.3485

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Auteurs

Jelisaveta Vukelić

University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy
jelisaveta.vukelic[at]f.bg.ac.rs

Mina Petrović

University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy
mipetrov[at]f.bg.ac.rs

Ana Kukuridi

University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy
anakukuridi9[at]gmail.com

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