The overall objective of the project is to strengthen participatory democracies and EU integration in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society and encouraging young people to actively take part in the decision-making process, and by improving a supportive legal and financial environment for civil society.

The specific objective of the project is to strengthen partnerships between local authorities and civil society in the Western Balkans, by scaling a successful model of transparent project funding of CSOs (LOD methodology) from LGs budgets, which is aimed at greater civic and youth participation in decision-making processes and at improved service delivery in local communities.

The Regional Programme for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) is a continuation of EU-supported initiatives - Local Democracy Strengthening Project (LOD, 2009-2016) and the subsequently expanded Regional Program for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD, 2017-2020).

As the previous ones, this project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). ReLOaD2 is implemented in the Western Balkans, in particular Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

In the Western Balkans, the collaboration between local governments (LG) and civil society organizations (CSOs) is still underdeveloped. Lack of transparency in financing of CSOs out of public sources is perceived as one of the main obstacles for the development and functioning of civil society, given that there is no clear responsibility in the distribution and spending of these funds. Models in use are often insufficient and discriminatory, do not contribute to positioning and stronger influence of civil society in communities and delay further development of participatory democracy.

Working across the region, ReLOaD2 improves the capacity of LGs and CSOs to engage in productive partnerships and contribute to improving service delivery and realization of local priorities in line with development strategies. It encourages local authorities to use public funding of CSOs in a transparent and development-oriented manner, recognizing local needs and adopting a project-based approach. Also, the programme promotes the engagement of youth and provides support with the implementation of youth initiatives, while also working to improve their economic prospects in partner localities.

* For UNDP all references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the UN Resolution 1244/1999.

Who will benefit from ReLOaD2 and what we do?

The following stakeholders benefit from ReLOaD2:

  • 63 local government units in the Western Balkans. LGs are one of the key actors in providing financial resources to CSOs and the framework conditions for their work. Support for civil society is often not a major priority at the local level, thus authorities often neglect its importance and potential. Common challenges are a lack of strategic vision, limited financial resources and limited capacity.
  • Civil society organizations in the Western Balkans - civil society is somewhat neglected in the Western Balkans and lacks key skills, which may result in limited impact of CSOs and impact on their target groups. On the other hand, CSOs also struggle to define their strategic goals, strengthen ties with their target groups, and position themselves in a long-term strategic way.
  • Youth in the Western Balkans – young people face significant challenges due to lack of democratic progress and limited economic opportunities, which makes the Western Balkans a region with one of the highest youth unemployment rates. This results in an enormous brain drain with young people leaving the region to find better prospects abroad.

The end users, as this project implies:



Citizens, with a special focus on youth and communities at the local level, are direct beneficiaries together with CSOs. A range of activities and topics that CSOs usually carry out provide solutions to the needs of individuals and groups at the local level. In the absence of a systemic policy, and with internal challenges within CSOs, only a limited impact on end-users is achieved.

The project will support the implementation of 300 CSO projects in partner LGs. It is expected that 35,000 citizens will benefit from projects in local communities. Key priority areas will be defined by the communities themselves before the start of public calls for CSOs and will include the following areas and topics: youth, social cohesion, social inclusion and social services for the most vulnerable, gender equality, environmental protection, human rights and minority rights group, especially Roma.

ReLOaD2 aims to create conditions for a competitive approach in the allocation of funds on a project basis from the budgets of local governments and at the same time motivate CSOs to professionalize and improve the level of service delivery. In addition, the introduction of a transparent and inclusive approach to the process of allocating funds at the local level will improve the utilization of funds and the transparency of grant schemes of LGs.

Expected results

ReLOaD2 will achieve the following results in 63 local governments in the Western Balkans:

  • Strengthen the capacity of local governments and CSOs to institutionalize and implement transparent and gender responsive grant schemes and deliver quality projects that serve the local community.
  • Growing capacities of LGs and CSOs to generate greater participation of citizens and youth in activities at the local level.
  • Improving regional networking and dialogue between civil society and local governments across the Western Balkans.



Start date

January 2021

Estimated end date

December 2024

Focus area

Rural and Regional Development


European Union 

Project value

≈ EUR 12,63 million

Geographic coverage

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia


Ministries and institutions in charge of local governments and civil society in each participating IPA beneficiary 


ReLOaD1 Results

List of supported CSO Projects under first phase of ReLOaD (2017-2020)

List of supported CSO Projects under second phase of ReLOaD (2021-2024)

LOD Methodology for Allocation of Funds to Civil Society Organizations

Video instructions for project proposal and budget submission