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PUBLIC REPRESENTATION IS THE KEY TOOL USED BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS TO REACH DESIRED SOCIAL CHANGES
There are many definitions of advocacy, but all of them include the idea of changing the current status regarding public interest topics, through the process of changing policies and regulations, as well as attitudes, behaviors, and practices of all those stakeholders that are relevant to a particular topic.
Advocacy is a planned action aimed at changing laws, policies, or beliefs, attitudes and behavior of citizens in order to achieve a sustainable change.
STRATEGIC PLANNING IS AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF SUCCESSFUL ADVOCACY
In order to achieve their goal, civil society organizations can adopt different strategies. In order to choose the appropriate strategies, it is necessary to understand the problem, which is achieved by analyzing the situation of the stakeholders and the relation of power, own strengths, weaknesses and capacities, ie.identification of potential allies and opponents. Based on the analysis of the situation, organizations create achievable goals or make plans to achieve these goals.
There are several advocacy strategies that organizations can apply: strategies of education, cooperation, persuasion, confrontation, and others.
The significance of the strategy is that it enables monitoring of own successes and obstacles, as well as opportunities that can arise, and a timely reaction or adaptation of plans in accordance with the changes that have occurred.
Advocacy leads to changes at multiple levels:
- 1. Democratic change - where citizens understand their power and use it to influence decision-making processes. Advocacy makes public processes understandable to citizens and motivates them to understand and adopt certain values, that is, they become guided by the achievement of social rather than personal gain.
- 2. Change at the level of policies and regulations - the problem identified by the citizens is solved by changing the legal regulation, the adopted policy and the like.
- 3. Systemic change - where the decision-making process itself has become more transparent, involves citizens, and decision-makers are responsible for their actions.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE IS RECOGNIZED AS A WAY TO RECONCILE AND BALANCE DIFFERENT INTERESTS IN FOOD INDUSTRY
The food industry is a complex group of activities that includes different interests - the interests of agricultural producers, processors, purchasers and other businesses gathered around the food industry, then the interests of consumers, local communities, animal welfare and environmentalprotection.
In order to make agriculture sustainable in the Western Balkans, it is necessary to harmonize the regulations of the Western Balkan countries with the regulations of the European Union, but also change the traditional behavior patterns of the actors within the food industry. These actors need to be instructed that there are tangible economic and social benefits of thetransition to a sustainable way of doing business in agriculture, that is, to empower them to achieve these benefits.
This can be achieved only by strong civil society organizations in the Western Balkans that, through advocacy, are in a position to influence policies and regulations and have sufficient strength and capacity to sustain these changes in the long run.
In order for policies and regulations to be applied, civil society organizations must contribute to the transformation of the societyculture in that community members support these changes and bring them to life in practice. They must also affect key attitudes, behavior, and culture of society by sending a unique message that sustainable agriculture is of great importance for the sustainable Balkans.