Through studies of the environmental situation, it became evident that social, political and environmental changes had affected the people of the region to a large degree. A picture emerged of a very complex multicultural and multilingual situation, and a population that was struggling to find ways to meet the challenges of the new social, economic and political environment.
As a result of this awareness, the original focus of the Project was expanded to include social action projects aimed at assisting local people in developing skills related to public participation, in order to help them address local issues as a part of the democratic process. Advanced communications technology was viewed as an important part of this involvement by local people, and a component for computer technology, e-mail and other communications tools was included. Eventually, the narrowly focused Project developed into a broadly focused NGO with different programs targeting the whole Lake Peipsi watershed area. A small grass-root organization had grown beyond the original research function.
With its head office in Tartu, in southern Estonia near the Lake, it is uniquely suited to dealing with issues in the border area with a multilingual staff most of whom function in Estonian, Russian and English. Its projects extend from Narva in the north to Räpina in the south and cover two main pillars: environmental research, policies and education; and civil society and community development projects. At the same time, international projects that promote cooperation between local governments, NGOs and other organizations have been developed between Estonia, Russia and Latvia. On 1 July 1998, the Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation was established as an umbrella organization to promote projects that involve specific cross-border activities.
The scope of project activities continues to expand, with the major emphasis on creating projects that promote sustainable development, widespread cooperation and the pursuit of common goals to enhance the lives of the people living along the border area.
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