Citizens' attitudes research

Istraživanje stavova građana

Researching citizens' views on civil society organizations and sustainable agriculture in the Western Balkans

Civil society organizations play a very important role in the process of European integration addressed by all the countries of the Western Balkans. They explore and monitor the situation, contribute to the development and improvement of policies and regulations, ie.their implementation, educate and motivate citizens to organize themselves and cooperate in the common interest and to realize a constructive and structured dialogue with public institutions.

In June 2016, a survey of citizens’ attitudes about civil society organizations and sustainable agriculture in Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo was conducted to find out what citizens think about civil society organizations in the Western Balkan countries, whether they trust them, what they know about sustainable agriculture and what their role in the promotion of sustainable agriculture is. The survey was conducted on the basis of a telephone interview with 820 respondents per country, aged over 18 years.

The most important conclusions:

1. Support to civil society organizations is moderate.

The research showed that civil society organizations working in the field of sustainable agriculture enjoy the greatest support in Montenegro, which is reflected in the percentage of preferable answers to almost all questions raised within the research. Most respondents in all five countries of the Western Balkans know what civil society organizations are, but only about 1/3 personally knows someone who is active in such an organization. Approximately, one-half of citizens supports, while the other half does not support civil society organizations.

2. Citizens' opinion on the financial support to civil society organizations is divided.

More than half of the citizens in Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo believe that the state should reduce the amount of taxes paid by civil society organizations engaged in the promotion of sustainable agriculture. However, roughly the number of citizens who said they would financially support the work of some organization and of those who would not do that is the same.

3. Citizens have little confidence in the usefulness and influence of civil society organizations on the development of sustainable agriculture.

Asked if they consider that the work of civil society organizations in the field of sustainable agriculture is beneficial, most respondents considered it to be mainlyuseful, that is, neither useful nor harmful. The impact of organizations on addressing key problems in the area of sustainable agriculture is small by the opinion of the majority of citizens.

4. Citizens do not know enough about the role of civil society organizations.

Respondents listed the main role of organizations in the promotion of sustainable agriculture: research and identification of the main problems, promotion of international cooperation and exchange of experiences and education of agricultural producers, however, more rarely selected responses included the implementation of public campaigns and support to Ministries of Agriculture in strategic planning and policy making.

5. Citizens do not know enough about sustainable agriculture.

It is most commonly identified with: agricultural production that is environmentally safe, agricultural production that allows survival and profit to small and medium-sized producers, agricultural production that complies with food safety regulations, or massive production of cheap food which is therefore available to economically vulnerable categories of consumers. Sustainable agriculture is less identified with the cultivation and preservation of local populations and varieties of agricultural crops, and the welfare of animals as an aspect of sustainable agriculture is especially recognized in Serbia (6.3%), while in other countries less than 3% of citizens chose this response.