The Green Chair mechanism presents a network of over 50 non-governmental organizations active in the field of environmental protection. It was established on 5 June 2013 as an initiative of seven civil society organizations. The main idea behind its establishment was to ensure permanent participation of civil society representatives at the sessions of the Environmental Protection Committee (Committee) of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia (National Assembly).
The Green Chair mission is to improve communication with the legislative government branch through this one of the kind mechanism and to have impact on improvement of environmental legislation. This unique mechanism enables permanent and coordinated participation of civil society representatives in the work of the Committee and is one of the most important mechanisms of including citizens in the work of parliamentary committees in general.
Establishing Green Chair mechanism is in accordance with the Article 63 of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure concerning the work of the Committee: “The Committee can ensure the presence or participation of representatives of citizens and associations of citizens at the session of the Committee during discussion on certain issues related to environmental protection.”
Representatives of the Green Chair mechanism have the opportunity to participate in the debate during the Committee sessions, give comments and suggestions for improvement of the laws and by-laws presented to the Committee. The basic idea and intention of working through such mechanism is to provide MPs, members of the Committee, expert knowledge and insight from the civil sector as well as from local level.
The work of the network is managed by the Green Chairs Coordination Team, which consists of three civil society organizations: Young Researchers of Serbia, Center for Modern Skills and Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence. The Coordination Team is in direct contact with the Committee Secretary and is a link between the network and Committee members. It is in charge of following the Committee activities, communication between Green Chair and Committee members, delegating the Green Chair representatives to the Committee’s sessions, regularly reporting to network members on the held sessions, and organizing other activities for network members.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the mechanism is very often considered by the representatives of the international community and donors as the only functional mechanism of cooperation between civil society and the National Assembly, institutional support is still lacking, despite Coordination Team’s considerable effort to secure it. The mechanism itself has no permanent support for its work, while the work of the Coordination Team is on a voluntary basis.