SOIN Newsletter 8/2022

A new program - SDG LENS, microgrants for the SDGs, and presentation of Belarusian shadow report
Dear friends, alumni and partners,
we are in the sixth month of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. Besides the warfare in the east of the country, cities such as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv are exposed to Russian airstrikes on a daily basis. The official number of casualties is increasing (as of July 28, 10,631 civilian casualties in the country have been officially documented) and war crimes are being committed by the Russian army against the Ukrainian civilian population as well as prisoners of war. By June, almost 5.5 million refugees across Europe and 6.27 million internally displaced people within Ukraine have been recorded, causing the largest human displacement crisis in the world today.

Russia is not only violating international law. It also jeopardizes the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which it signed together with all UN Member States in 2015, committing itself to a peaceful, just and sustainable world. The war has radically changed the outlook of sustainable development in Eastern Europe. In Ukraine, the setbacks will be most significant with regard to almost all of the SDGs, e.g. the decline of health and well-being (SDG3), the destruction of infrastructure, cities and civic facilities (SDG8), as well as serious consequences for the environment (SDGs 14, 15 and 13). Ukraine's neighboring states are feeling the impact of the war as well: Whilst Moldova is hosting a large number of refugees from Ukraine, civil societies in Belarus and Russia are facing even stricter repressions, isolation and human rights abuses. The conditions and areas of international cooperation (SDG 17) also have been changing significantly, making partnerships for sustainable development more difficult. With the SOIN Network we build in the previous years a platform for networking, exchange and cooperation between social entrepreneurs, innovators, civic activists, NGOs as well as researchers for sustainable development. However, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, we have been asking ourselves: How can we continue our work and support civil society despite the war?

We invite you to participate in our new program SDG LENS. Monitoring Sustainable Development in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus and work jointly on sustainable solutions to the local and global challenges. SDG LENS will empower civic actors from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine to monitor, report and advocate the 2030 Agenda and to stand up for peace, climate and justice. The program focuses on:
  • Networking & Awareness Raising: Connecting civil society at local, national and global levels and supporting local actions and awareness raising campaigns
  • Monitoring & Reporting: Enabling civic actors to monitor governments’ activities to implement the 2030 Agenda and supporting independent reporting. See previously published reports here
  • National & Global Advocacy: Increasing civil society’s capacity to advocate the 2030 Agenda by using independent reports and becoming active in UN mechanisms
SDG LENS will strengthen civil society with workshops, consultations, international meetings as well as supporting local actions and online campaigns during the Global Week to Act4SDGs with microgrants. It will enable civic actors to document the impacts of war across Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, advocate for peace and compliance with international law, and develop strategies and recommendations for a just and sustainable future after the war.
Become now a partner of our new program SDG LENS and contact us directly:
Open call:
Global Week to Act4SDGs
Apply now and receive a microgrant for the Global Week to Act4SDGs
From 16 - 25 September the Global Week to Act4SDGs is taking place, a global movement promoting the 2030 Agenda and mobilizing people around the world to stand up for their vision of a just, peaceful and sustainable world. We invite civil society actors to take your own action for the Sustainable Development Goals with a local event, an online campaign or a research article related to any of the SDGs or dealing with the consequences of the war. Apply now, and get the opportunity to win a microgrant and join the global movement to #FlipTheScript for Peace, Justice and Climate!

Who can apply?
Civic actors from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. In these challenging times civil society should become a bridge between divided societies. Please refer to our position on Russia's aggression against Ukraine before applying.

How to apply?
Submit your idea until 21 August, 18:00 Minsk, Chisinau, Moscow, Kyiv time / 19:00 Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi time. The best ideas will be invited to be presented on 30 August.

Join the open webinar on 15 August!
Register now for the open webinar on 15 August, 16:00 Minsk, Chisinau, Moscow, Kyiv time / 17:00 Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi time and learn more about the Global Week to Act4SDGs and how to pitch your idea in order to win a microgrant. Participation is strongly recommended.
Shadow Report Belarus:
Sustainable Development of Belarus through the eyes of civil society
On July 9, the first “Belarusian Civil Society Report on Sustainable Development Goals Implementation” was presented at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in New York. Independent experts and representatives of civil society from Belarus assessed trends and challenges of achieving the 2030 Agenda and formulated recommendations for state and civil society.

The report shows that prior to 2020, the Belarusian state was still showing interest in the sustainable development agenda. Progress was visible, thanks to international financial support and the work of the civil society. However, all efforts have come to a halt after the massive crackdown on civil society that has been going on since August 2020, following the protest after the rigged re-election of Aleksandr Lukashenko. This is also noted by our colleague Nelya Rakhimova in her statement on the challenges of civil society at the HLPF: “Since 2020, we could observe that the independent civil society of Belarus has been erased from the legal landscape and literally pushed out of the country. Repressed civil societies in Belarus and Russia now need support from the international community.

The report was prepared with the support of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office and can be read here.