The city of Banská Bystrica is one of few cities that can be commended on the fact that the Council of Non-Governmental Non-Profit Organizations (MNO), which represents the interests of non-government and the third sector and civic society in the city, is among the advisory bodies of the Mayor. On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, the Council, in cooperation with Matej Bel University and Banská Bystrica, prepared a special forum for non-profit organizations and active citizens.

The MNO decided to organize this forum with the intention of strengthening public, business and third sector cooperation in both economic and social spheres. It is often the case that city officials do not understand what non-governmental organizations are, that they are not “small companies” and vice versa, workers and volunteers at the MNO do not understand that the city has certain competencies and a legislative framework within which it can act. The forum discussed these limiting factors, which delineate the scope of cooperation for the city and the third sector.

The results of the SOLIDUS international research project, which aims to identify solidarity activities in five areas (education, employment, housing, health and civic participation) in 12 countries of the European Union, were also presented in the forum. The solidarity activities are various initiatives, projects or public policies where solidarity towards vulnerable groups has been demonstrated and NGOs, the public sector and possibly the business sector have also cooperated. The aim of the research is to formulate recommendations, based on examples of good practice, which can form the basis for the creation of public policies at all levels (European, national, regional and local), or so-called evidence-based policy – a policy formulated on evidence.

The city of Banská Bystrica, as a progressive city, is inclined to the idea of such public policies and supports various activities that enable citizens and NGOs to participate in the process of urban development, although implementation takes longer and is not as easy as MNO representatives wish for. Mayor Ján Nosko views the cooperation positively and wants to continue to develop it. In addition to the representatives of the city, Ján Lunter, the Governor of the Banská Bystrica Self-Governing Region, and staff from his office were actively discussing the events, for which the forum members present were very grateful.

“We would like to thank the partners of the SOLIDUS project, Matej Bel University and Banská Bystrica, but in particular we would like to thank the 43 participants for a fruitful discussion and willingness to find solutions to improve cooperation between the city and non-governmental organizations. We believe that the presentation of successful examples from the SOLIDUS project have helped to inspire and motivate further cooperation”, says doc. Ing. Mária Murray Svidroňová, PhD., lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, Matej Bel University, executive director of the civic association ZADOBE and chairperson of the MNO Council.