Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation – enabling environment holds the key to civil society’s role in implementation

Joint blog by Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

The 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held December 2011 in Busan, South Korea, was a landmark event where civil society participated in negotiations on the new direction for international development cooperation on an equal basis with governments and donors, the first such time in the history of these OECD-led events.

It concluded with a compromise and mixed results for civil society organisations (CSOs).[1]  One important gain is the acknowledgement in the outcome agreement of the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness, as a reference on best CSO practices and conditions required from governments and donors. Continue reading

An injustice to one is an injustice to all

One positive energy molecule moving through space, colliding into another, creates powerful potential. Combine more of these positives, and you get amazing explosive power. This is what I felt like on meeting 16 young people from various countries around the world, who were in South Africa for a four day workshop on youth activism and transitional justice. Pure energy and potential!

The workshop, “From Cape to Cairo: The Role of Youth in Democratic Transition”, brought together passionate activists from far flung countries such as Venezuela, Belarus, Egypt and Zimbabwe, among others, to share their stories, explore ideas with peers and meet with experts on transitional justice mechanisms and tools. The focus of the workshop and the date had been very carefully selected, bringing this group together on a very significant date that serves as a reminder of the struggles of the past, and ones that are still going on today. Continue reading

Will business as usual trump transformational change at Rio+20?

Two of the fora I’ve participated in recently sought to shape new models for our species and planet. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland the theme , programme and presence of #Occupy protestors combined to ensure inequality, governance and popular uprisings were, at least, on the agenda. At the UN meeting on the changing context of development and its implications for cooperation and global partnership , on the other hand, these barely found mention. Despite that superficial difference, however, both events struck me as being completely out of touch with the scale, persistence and sheer outrage of citizens around the world and with the dire consequences of inaction on climate change. Continue reading

Bringing it together: organising for civil society effectiveness in Cameroon

A divided civil society sector is easy to ignore and will struggle to exert influence. By overcoming barriers to collaboration, civil society can improve its effectiveness and be taken more seriously. The Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness have provided a framework to increase civil society collaboration in Cameroon. Here, Christine Andela of PLANOSCAM, the National Platform of Civil Society Organisation of Cameroon, describes the steps they took in uniting civil society and applying common principles of joint working to increase effectiveness.

Cameroon’s CSO community is composed of a great number of CSOs of different type, including faith-based CSOs, women’s associations, youth associations, trade unions, professional organisations and NGOs.   Continue reading

2012: A Civil Society Agenda

We’ve worn out all the clichés. Crisi-tunity, inclusive growth, sustainable development, green jobs, creative capitalism – the list seems endless. A year on from the start of the Arab Spring and the wave of people power movements from China to India, Spain, Israel and Chile to the phenomena embodied by Anonymous and #Occupy, what, if anything, has fundamentally changed? Are we in a new age of citizen engagement, radical transparency and accountability that transcends geography, demographics and causes? Have we established irreversible beachheads against tyranny, or simply traded old forms for new? Are we closer than ever before to achieving breakthroughs in the battles against climate change, poverty and inequity? Or are the forces of repression, control and elitism turning the tide against that wave? Are we on the cusp of a new paradigm of economic, political, ecological and social well-being or on the verge of chaos, conflict and meltdown of unprecedented planetary proportions? What ought we in civil society and all those who wish to advance democratic freedoms be focusing on at a time when demands for our support far outstrip the resources available for these ends? Where are the points of most dire need and those of maximum opportunity in a period of accelerated shifts in geo-political power dynamics? Continue reading

Tell the World Bank what you think

Feedback needed from civil society on a proposed Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability

Recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have compelled leaders of global institutions and heads of government to rethink the way they do business. There seems to be momentum building around new ways of involving non-state actors and especially civil society organisations with a view to bridge the gaps and disconnects between citizens and governance. One such initiative seems to be emerging from the World Bank. In the immediate aftermath of the uprisings in North Africa, President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, in a lecture at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on 6 April 2011, conceded that participation of civil society in development processes at national level has a positive impact on public service delivery and developmental outcomes1.

Following Mr. Zoellick’s address, the World Bank Group has come up with a new initiative entitled Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability with the stated ambition of “strengthening beneficiary feedback and participation by supporting civil society capacity to engage with governments to improve development effectiveness.” To help formulate this partnership, the World Bank Group is currently carrying out consultations at country and regional levels to obtain feedback from civil society and other stakeholders.

The on-going consultations are aimed at collating feedback on the nature and type of support that the proposed partnership can offer to assist civil society in dealing with current challenges and the role of the World Bank in providing this support. The consultations also seek to clarify possible criteria that can be used to identify those who will represent civil society in the partnership; the potential risks involved and the impact the partnership will have on developmental outcomes.

CIVICUS joined the consultation, held in Johannesburg on 7 February 2012, with World Bank Officials and a number of civil society representatives from the Southern African region including civil society groups from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A summary of feedback from these and other consultations held in different regions around the globe is expected to be posted online. More consultations on the operationalisation of the partnership are expected to run from May to June.

There is no denying that this proposed partnership is timely and arises from the recognition that governments and intergovernmental bodies cannot continue business as usual. It is also true that this is yet another initiative that needs to prove whether it works and delivers on its promises. In any case, it’s critical that citizens and civil society organisations have their say now in how this partnership is formulated. Hence we strongly encourage you to provide your feedback online as part of the consultation and send the completed form to gpesa[at]worldbank.org.

1For more information on Zoellick’s lecture, see The Middle East and North Africa: A New Social Contract for Development.

Visit the World Bank for more information on the Partnership for Enhanced Global Accountability.