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Groups representing citizen interests around the world are under pressure. Funding cuts and restrictive laws are curtailing their freedom to operate, and many participants at the 2016 Policy Forum on Development (PFD) and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Forum spoke of a ‘shrinking space’ in which they could work. They called for EU support to strengthen their position and help them achieve sustainable development on a local level.
Capacity4dev Team created a new Article 22 July 2014
For European Union delegations and member states, working effectively with civil society organisations presents different challenges. In Chad it takes five days of desert travel to reach organisations in the north; in Azerbaijan there are about 3000 registered NGOs; in Trinidad & Tobago some CSOs find that their insights are not being recognised and validated sufficiently; and until recently in Bangladesh knowledge was mostly available only on groups involved in service-delivery.
“Although development is a global [issue], the implementation is always local. Because it’s at this level that it is most effective,” said Mr Khalifa Sall, President of United Cities and Local Governments and Mayor of Dakar. He believes that including local authorities in sustainable development is only ‘natural’. So what does it take to unite the European Commission and Local Authorities?
How to strengthen the involvement of civil society in public life? Three new case studies from EuropeAid illustrate good practice from three different corners of the world.
Capacity4dev Team created a new Article 26 January 2015
Director General of DG DEVCO and Chair of the Policy Forum on Development (PFD), Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, opened the forum’s meeting in October last year by talking about the importance of 2015. "It is the end of the Millennium Development Goals, and a whole set of new, universal goals will be negotiated in the United Nations. It is also the year of the international climate negotiations in Paris, where hopefully a new consensus on combatting climate change will be reached. For that reason the European Union decided to follow your suggestion and have the first ever European year dedicated to international cooperation and development."
The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative calls on the involvement of civil society in the negotiation and implementation of their Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with timber exporting countries. But while getting a voice at the negotiating table is one thing, being able to contribute meaningfully during the full VPA process is another.
16-year-old Astghik is an old hand at civic engagement. For the past four years she has been working with fellow citizens and World Vision Armenia to improve local services in Yerevan, with tangible results. Can examples like hers be scaled up across countries, and give citizens everywhere an active role in making sure the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved?
Zambia can sound like a success. One of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies – with an average annual expansion of 3% between 2004 and 2013 – it was classed by the World Bank as a lower-middle-income country in 2011.
In recent years, an increase in authoritarian regimes and the introduction of restrictive laws have resulted in a shrinking space for civil society in over a hundred countries. Engaging civil society actors at the international level and including their say in development policies can counter these worrying trends.
With the fall of Ben Ali’s government at the beginning of 2011, space was suddenly created for the emergence of civil society in Tunisia. In the frenetic eleven months that followed, the European Commission (EC) was able to fund 24 new civil society initiatives across the country. Michel Mouchiroud of the EU Delegation in Tunisia shares personal insight and lessons learned from the process.

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