The Process of Creating Change, NGO Funding and Sustainability Work at Ökotárs

Member of the Environmental Partnership Association (EPA), Ökotárs (the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation in English) is the Hungarian non-governmental organization (NGO) committed in facilitating the development of various other NGOs that work in Hungary. Veronika Móra is head of this organisation that was created in 1994. In her office, where green plants take up almost as much space as dossiers, great work is being done to push for societal sustainability. How does Ökotárs contribute to create change in the society?

Over a coffee in her office, it becomes clear that Veronika is strongly committed to her work as the organization’s director. She actively works at Ökotárs for almost two decades and managed it since 2007. It’s through supporting the work of other Hungarian organisations that Ökotárs makes its own contribution to enhance civil society development. One of the main barriers an NGO can face is the lack of financial resources. That’s why Ökotárs has committed to giving the needed resources through various grant programs. In addition,they organise capacity-building financial trainings for NGOs. This work is how Ökotárs contributes to a sustainable society.

Sustainability? But isn’t that just about the environment? Ökotárs, just like the life journey of its director, does not only focus on environmental issues but also on broad societal issues which together are the essential elements truly “sustainable” development. Before arriving  as the head of the organisation, Veronika was a long-time activist. Lead by her sensitiveness for society issues,  she was committed since her university days to the societal debates, such as ecological consumer protection, public participation issues, and genetic engineering. She finally became director of Ökotárs in 2007.

All these experiences explain her own definition of ‘sustainability’“a process in which society would try to living a way both beneficial for the environment and the society”. She strongly insists on the importance of understanding that the idea of a sustainable development is a process and not a fixed and discernable state that society just has to achieve. Sustainability is never achieved but it is a continuous practice  of finding the option which results in the  most sustainable action.

For Veronika,  ‘process’ is an essential feature. By ‘process’, she would like people to understand that building a socially and environmentally conscious world is not only the fact of big decisions and high-ranking people, but also the results of individual, daily actions. The problem is not too big nor too far for each one of us can contribute by our own way. She also highlights the fact that people who would like to live sustainably should do it not simply because is ethically good, but because it can be personally rewarding in daily life, and in the future. Making better the world in which you are living. That is why she notes that sustainability is not about the just about the environment or just about the society, but it’s about both of them.

This way she wakes up every morning with a clear idea of how she wants to enhance Hungarian associative and cooperative life to create a sustainable society. We asked, “Why this work with Ökotárs?”, she replied, “To see that you enable others to do what they are committed to do”, which perfectly describes her way of creating a better world.

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