Long way to Berlin

Year 2021 with the SOIN team

This year was a difficult one for social projects and civil society in general. We all worked under-tightening pandemic restrictions, canceled conferences, rescheduled trips, and adapted our events to the online format. The political situation in Belarus and Russia increased our isolation. During this year, three German NGOs were deemed undesirable in Russia, and organizations of our partners in Belarus were liquidated by the Lukashenko regime. More and more social projects, NGOs, and activist organizations have had to leave their countries despite the pandemic and adapt their projects due to political repression.

In such circumstances, face-to-face meetings with partners, experts, and participants in educational programs become even more valuable. In 2021, we had to move our exchange programs to other countries and experiment with hybrid formats, organize educational trips to Russian regions, and arrange consultations on achieving the SDGs in an online format.

Read more in the newsletter and on the SOIN website. To stay in touch with updates, subscribe to our Telegram.

We would like to thank all of our partners, program participants, experts, and colleagues for their excellent cooperation during these difficult times. We wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2022!
Sustainable Development Lab
The warm September sun greeted the participants of the SDG Accelerator "Partnerships for the Goals" in Berlin. For more than a year the educational trips were postponed because of the restrictions caused by the COVID19 pandemic.

The participants of the acceleration program from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia visited important social projects in Berlin: tasted cookies packed by employees of Stephanus Stiftung Foundation workshops for people with disabilities, had a walk with an impromptu lecture from a participant from Belarus about shaping wetlands in Tegeler Fliess, met local criers in Baumhaus. More about the visit to the NABU Foundation and the Stephanus Stiftung Foundation workshops in the articles on the SOIN website. The main focus was on finalizing project ideas and looking for international partnerships. We met in a hybrid format together with participants from Russia, who could not join us in person, discussed the development of projects in the context of the global agenda, partnership strategies, and presented new project ideas.

How participants report on their successes during the program:
The SDG Accelerator “Partnerships for the Goals!” was part of the project Sustainable Development Lab, running from the beginning of 2020 until the end of 2021. At the beginning of 2020, we had planned workshops and seminars for social entrepreneurs in the regions of Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine - but due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, we soon had to cancel all in-person events and switch to the virtual space. We also had to cancel our participation in the annual Global Festival of Action, one of the most important events for SDG changemakers, due to the cancellation of the event in Bonn in May 2020. But we adapted our program to the new realities: Together with our partners, we organized online workshops and then the Accelerator program for experts, social entrepreneurs and activists from Belarus, Germany, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Ten projects in 2020 and 15 projects in 2021 received support for information and advocacy campaigns during the United Nations Global Week to Act for SDGs in September 2020 and 2021. And after months of virtual meetings, we finally met in autumn 2021 in Berlin.

In parallel with the accelerator program, SDG networks and coalitions were deepened by holding several online trainings and consultative meetings with the members of the Partnership Group for SDGs in Belarus, the Network for SDGs at EcoVisio in Moldova, the Coalition for Sustainable Development in Russia (KURS), and the Forum on Environment and Development, as part of the German Network for SDGs. After the first complete so-called Shadow Report (independent civil society report) on all 17 SDGs was already presented in 2020 in Russia, the first Shadow Reports were also published in Belarus on SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption & Production) and in Moldova on SDGs 7 (Clean and Cheap Energy) and 13 (Climate Change Mitigation). The reports can be found online on the SOIN website.

The program was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office within the Eastern Partnership Program, enabling civil society organizations to implement joint projects and establish permanent cooperation structures between civil society from Germany and the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia.
Innovate for Change
The fourth edition of the social innovation and resources for civic projects program I4C 2020 ended this spring. After several postponements of the trip to Berlin, the participants met in April 2021 in St. Petersburg for an educational trip together with our partners Impact Hub Moscow. During the four days of the program, the participants had time not only to work on their own projects but also to be inspired by the social initiatives of the Leningrad region and to work on the topic of burnout in social projects together with the invited experts.
Inspired by the feedback from the participants, we decided to start Innovate for Change 2021-22 with an educational trip. 17 participants from 6 Russian cities met in Izhevsk in October 2021 to discover social enterprises in Izhevsk and share their expertise on three local community-building projects. More about the educational trip was on FB Impact Hub Moscow. The developed project ideas were presented together with the rest of the applications during the pitches in December. And 4 projects in the areas of ecology, fighting inequality, sustainable consumption and production, and inclusion were the winners.