Capitalisation of Experiences of the Swiss Support to Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) in Bulgaria

Giger, Markus; Meessen, Heino; Boteva, Dimitrina; Yordanov, Nikola (2007). Capitalisation of Experiences of the Swiss Support to Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) in Bulgaria Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

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Following the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Bulgaria has undergone dramatic political, economic and social transformations. The transition process of the past two decades was characterized by several reforms to support democratisation of the political system and the functioning of a free-market economy. Since 1992, Switzerland has been active in Bulgaria providing assistance to the transition process, with support to Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) starting in 1995. The SMNR Capitalisation of Experiences (CapEx) took place between March and September 2007, in the context of SDC phasing out its programmes in Bulgaria by the end of 2007 due to the country’s accession to the European Union. The CapEx exercise has culminated in the identification of 17 lessons learned. In the view of the CapEx team, many of these lessons are relevant for countries that are in the process of joining the EU, facing similar democratisation challenges as Bulgaria. Overall, the Swiss SMNR projects have been effective entry points to support areas that are crucial to democratic transitions, namely participation in public goods management, decentralisation, human capacity development in research and management, and preparation for EU membership. The specificity of the Swiss support stems from an approach that combines a long-term commitment with a clear thematic focus (forestry, biodiversity conservation and organic agriculture). The multistakeholder approach and diversification of support between local, regional and national levels are also important elements that contributed to make a difference in relation to other donors supporting the Bulgarian transition. At the institutional level, there are a number of challenges where the contribution of SMNR activities was only modest, namely improving the legal framework and creating more transparency and accountability, both of which are time and resource-consuming processes. In addition, the emergence of competent and sustainable non-government organisations (NGOs) is a complex process that requires support to membership based organisations, a challenge that was hardly met in the case of SMNR. Finally, reform of government institutions involved in management of natural resources is difficult to achieve via project support only, as it requires leverage and commitment at the level of policy dialogue. At the programme management level, the CapEx team notes that corruption was not systematically addressed in SMNR projects, indicating that more attention should be given to this issue at the outset of any new project.

Item Type:

Report (Report)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Giger, Markus, Meessen, Heino


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics


Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

20 Aug 2015 16:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:48




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