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A Place of Excellence and Innovation – The Next Decade at the International Civil Society Centre

20. März 2018 - 15:43

Today, huge inequalities are contributing to divided and segregated societies and have created antagonising governments riding the waves of populism. Space for civic action, freedom of speech and assembly, and human and civil rights are drastically limited, through both open and opaque government measures. Millions of refugees and war victims need solidarity and services at highest levels of excellence. And the planet’s environmental boundaries are fragile and almost exhausted.

External and internal challenges to the work of Civil Society Organisations are greater than ever. The current climate in which ICSOs operate is difficult and precarious. Plotting the right course will be essential for civil society to survive and thrive. Current internal challenges to our sector, sometimes threaten to override the purpose of work. For example, the moral basis and public trust for ICSOs work are challenged and sometimes eroded through ethical wrongdoings (as exposed by the cases of sexual misconduct). Likewise, through the questioning of the current aid system, and by the legitimate claims for power shifts to the global South.

As I have been entrusted to move the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC) into its second decade, there is a great need for the sector of organised civil society institutions to be modernised, just as more established institutions like UN Security Council or international treaties.

The ICSC is here to support organised civil society in that transformation. Using new technology and talent, it will initiate collective action and ambition to influence critical developments for the achievement of a more just and equitable world, in which no one is left behind.

The task at hand is big, but the Centre has already come a long way in a short space of time. 10 years ago, two visionaries founded the Berlin Civil Society Centre, to provide a space for collaboration and forward thinking on civic space. The founders Burkhard Gnärig and Peter Eigen managed over those years, to create a broad base of International Civil Society Organisations (ICSOs) who carry the Centre today – our shareholders. They provide incredibly valuable services, support and aid to marginalised and underprivileged people. They defend human rights, and improve the world we all live in. Through their diversity, intellectual and financial capital, the leading ICSOs and their partners are helping to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. They serve as watchdogs (challenging corrupt and irresponsible governments), provide a moral compass, create perspectives for children and youth, support women in their fight for equality, drive policymakers towards the protection of our environment, and provide dignity to the poorest of the poor.

This collective of (soft) power is the underlying basis for the Centre’s objectives. To help ICSOs be at the top of their game, we aim to serve them (and the sector) as a think tank, space for collaboration, trend spotter, challenger and supporter of continuous transformation of operating models, structures, processes and organisational culture.

There are great pressures exerted through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitalisation, new forms of communication and demands for more transparency and demonstrable impact. Challenges come also through new generations of supporters (and opponents), influencers, value brokers and thought leaders – our friends and allies for the future years to come, who expect different ways of engagement, and many want to see strong moral grounds coupled with more agile and contemporary ways of working.
In tackling these challenges and taking our sector forward, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how we can do that together. In addition, I relish the chance to get going on exciting projects.

If you are interested in our work or want to learn then please get in touch with our team, or me

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Civil society innovators agree, blockchain and big data collaborations

13. März 2018 - 6:30

Blockchain and Big Data can transform how international civil society organisations (ICSOs) work and what they achieve. To benefit from them, collaboration between ICSOs is essential. At our 2018 Innovators Forum on 27-28 February 2018, experts gathered to work on new projects using Blockchain and Big Data to solve problems.

If the civil society sector does not organise now, then the potential of Big Data and Blockchain may be lost altogether. That was the feeling among 30 innovators and digital experts gathered at our 2nd Innovators Forum.

The motivation to act now is to avoid making the same mistake our sector made with the internet. In the early days of the internet, no one knew its true potential. However, big corporations were quick to react, capitalising on this digital innovation. They took the lead and made decisions that affected our lives and way of working. The likes of Google and Facebook capitalised, while civil society voices were not heard on important issues, such as data privacy and security. Ever since, we have been playing catch-up, rather than leading digital innovation.

Collaborating on Big Data and Blockchain

Our Innovators Forum participants agreed, this time civil society should grasp the opportunities presented by Big Data and Blockchain. They decided that to deliver benefits to all, civil society needs to act now and together.

Participants agreed to develop four projects on how to use Big Data or Blockchain technology in the work of CSOs:

  • Data-driven advocacy partnerships for SDGs: Develop a data collaboration method focussed on evidence-driven advocacy for the leave no one behind agenda. Using the Centre’s current Leave No One Behind project as a case study on how to use big data effectively at different project stages.
  • Big Data for Impact measurement: Use various Big Data sets to discover new insights. Create an impact measurement tool to improve decision making in in the area of advocacy.
  • Plan Omega: Explore how establishing a “CSO Blockchain” could enhance efforts to protect and expand civic space. Map relevant CSO actors and technological experts to gauge the viability of building the CSO blockchain.
  • Cryptocurrency and CSO transaction costs: Explore the possibilities of using an existing or establishing a new cryptocurrency for the CSO sector exclusively, this group will seek to answer the question: “Could the use of a cryptocurrency help reduce transaction costs for CSOs?”

Forum participants will take forward the four working areas. We are looking forward to seeing how these proposals progress. The Centre will provide support as needed and report on their progress on this blog.

Interested in the Innovators Forum or the work areas? You can contact Mathias Henriksen at

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Most civil society staff are women – most of their leaders are men

6. März 2018 - 6:30

A few weeks ago I recruited a new colleague to our small team in the Centre secretariat. The pattern of many previous rounds was repeated: We reviewed a number of very qualified and competent young female candidates, struggled to invite equally impressive male applicants for an interview and in the end offered the position to a very dedicated, ambitious and talented woman who wants to develop a long-term career in the civil society sector. I have met and worked with many women like her over the years at the Centre and in the civil society organisations (CSOs) we work with.

But very few of them advance to the senior management positions they aspired to take on when they start their career in the CSO sector. Looking at the leadership of the majority of large CSOs, these women never make it there. According to data from 2012, the Women Count report, women make up 68% of the workforce of the 100 CSOs with the highest income in the UK but only 25% of the most senior positions. In Germany, about 75% of the workforce are female; in CSOs providing social and care services the number even goes up to 83%. However, only about 42% of CEOs are women, sometimes only in co-leadership with a man. Of the roughly 30 leading international CSOs we work with at the Centre, only one third have a female global CEO. The representation in boards is by no means more gender balanced.

So what happens on the way to formal leadership positions? The very few studies that focus on the CSO sector suggest the “typical” explanations: Women can’t or don’t want to work full-time because of family responsibilities and therefore remain in the operational low to mid-level positions; male Board and CEOs recruit and promote “look-a-likes” to work with them or succeed them and women themselves hesitate to take on formal leadership roles because of their own prejudices and doubts whether they are ready or well-equipped enough.

Our sector is leading the way on gender balance and gender justice in programming, advocacy and research. Most large CSOs have mainstreamed gender issues across all their work with very impressive results for women’s empowerment worldwide. But when it comes to our own organisations we lag behind many other sectors who have systematically started to increase female leadership, sometimes only under pressure from governments who introduce quota, but also because they understand that gender balanced management achieves better results (and profit) and that it simply does not make sense to leave a large part of their talent pool untapped.

The gender imbalance in our own organisations’ leadership should no longer be acceptable for us. How do we systematically support women in their career development so that they acquire the skills and qualifications but also the confidence to apply for and accept formal leadership roles? What can our organisations do to provide the work conditions and culture in which women thrive just as much as men? How can we change our recruitment, retention and promotion processes in a way to increase gender balance within our top leadership and governance?

These and many more questions have to become a much stronger part of the current discussions in our sector around governance, power shift and legitimacy. I will start by talking to the women I know, some of them who are in leadership roles in the sector (or elsewhere) and the many who aren’t (yet) – so that together we can develop ideas how to achieve gender balance at the top. To the many women I don’t know: Please let me know what you think at

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Data Collaboratives can transform the way civil society organisations find solutions – Part II

27. Februar 2018 - 6:30

This is the second of two blogs on Data Collaboratives by Stefaan G. Verhulst of The Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University. Stefaan explains the 5 specific value propositions of Data Collaboratives identified by the Gov Lab. In addition, he tackles the issue of data security. Specifically, how organisations need to professionalise the responsible use of data. To do this, organisations need to embrace the creation of Data Stewardship job roles. (Read Part II here)

At a broad level, data collaboratives offer the possibility of unlocking insights and solutions from vast, untapped stores of private-sector data. But what does this mean in practice? GovLab’s research indicates five specific public value propositions arising from cross-sector data-collaboration. These include:

  1. Situational Awareness and Response: Private data can help NGOs, humanitarian organisations and others better understand demographic trends, public sentiment, and the geographic distribution of various phenomena:
  • One notable instance of this value proposition has been Facebook’s Disaster Maps initiative. Following natural disasters, Facebook shares aggregated location, movement, and self-reported safety data collected through its platform with responding humanitarian organisations, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Disaster Maps provide another tool in the humanitarian response toolkit to fill any gaps in traditional data sources and to inform more targeted relief efforts from responders on the ground.

  1. Knowledge Creation and Transfer: Data collaboratives can join widely dispersed datasets, in the process creating a better understanding of possible correlations and causalities as well as what variables make a difference for what type of problem:
  • For example: researchers at Data2X, a collaborative platform dedicated to improving “the quality, availability, and use of gender data” has sought to leverage the insights generated by analysing geospatial data, credit card, mobile phone data, and social media posts to pinpoint problems that women and girls in developing countries are facing, such as malnutrition, education, healthcare access, and mental health issues.
  1. Service Design and Delivery: By definition, data collaboratives increase access to previously inaccessible (i.e. privately held) datasets. These datasets often contain a wealth of information that can enable more accurate modelling of ICSO service delivery:
  • For example, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enabled WorldPop and UNFPA to map human populations that were traditionally unreachable through conventional approaches toward the goal of improving service delivery, resource allocation, urban planning and disaster management by development organisations.
  1. Prediction and Forecasting: Richer, more complete information from a data collaborative enables new predictive capabilities for ICSOs and others. Thus, allowing them to be more proactive and put in place mechanisms that prevent or at least mitigate crises before they occur:
  • For example, the Malaria Elimination Initiative developed DISARM (Disease Surveillance and Risk Monitoring), a platform that uses satellite data and Google Earth data to predict Malaria outbreaks. Mobile phone data has also been used in predicting population displacement during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which helped international and domestic humanitarian organisations deliver aid more effectively.
  1. Impact Assessment and Evaluation: Finally, data collaboratives can aid CSOs in one of the most important (yet often neglected) steps of their value chains: monitoring, evaluation, and improvement. By leveraging data, CSOs can rapidly assess the results of their actions, as to iterate on products and programs when necessary:
  • This is what Sport England did, for instance, when it used Twitter data to understand women’s views on exercise to inform its successful #ThisGirlCan campaign aimed at improving women and girl’s health and physical activity.
Professionalising the Responsible Use of Data

These value propositions offer a compelling case for greater use of private data through data collaboratives to solve complex public problems. However, a variety of concerns still exist. Some of these concerns (e.g. fears over privacy) involve public fears, while others (e.g. worries over a potential erosion of competitive advantage) are more internal oriented. Nonetheless, all of these concerns need to be addressed in order to foster greater trust and appreciation of the potential of data collaborative.

That is why there is a need to develop a framework that would guide the responsible use of data. GovLab has looked at these issues in a recent report, The Potential of Social Media Intelligence to Improve People’s Lives: Social Media Data for Good. Responsible data use has many aspects, and there are various degrees of responsibility. At the very least, it means having core (written) principles, and well-defined policies and practices for how data is collected, stored, analysed, shared and used (across the data lifecycle).

In addition, it is essential to conduct regular risk assessments that consider the balance between the potential value and dangers inherent at every stage of the data lifecycle. Such risk assessments can help data stakeholders decide when data sharing can be truly beneficial (or what the opportunity cost may be of not sharing the data). Several ICSOs have already started developing such responsible data frameworks such as Oxfam (Responsible Data Policy) and World Vision (Data Protection, Privacy & Security (DPP&S) framework). Increased awareness, further coordination (toward perhaps an ICSO Responsible Data Framework) and translation of these policies into decision trees may be required.

Data Stewardship roles

Yet not only do ICSOs and other private actors lack the frameworks to determine how to responsibly share and use data for the public good, they often lack a well-defined, professionalised concept of “Data Stewardship.” Today, each attempt to establish a cross-sector partnership built on the analysis of data requires significant and time-consuming efforts. ICSOs rarely have personnel tasked with undertaking such efforts and making such decisions.

The process of establishing “Data Collaboratives” and leveraging privately-held data for evidence-based policy making is onerous. Also, it is generally a one-off process and not informed by best practices or any shared knowledge base. Thus it is prone to dissolution when the champions involved move on to other functions.

By establishing “Data Stewardship” as a job function in organisations alongside methods and tools for responsible data-sharing, we can free data sharing for development from its stuck dynamic, and turn it into a regularised, predictable, and de-risked activity. Only then can ICSOs use and share their own data and that of others – including private companies – through data collaboratives to help transform how they achieve their missions while improving people’s lives.

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Data Collaboratives can transform the way civil society organisations find solutions – Part I

20. Februar 2018 - 6:30

This is the first of two blogs on Data Collaboratives by Stefaan G. Verhulst of The Governance Lab. Data Collaboratives are an emerging public-private partnership model, in which participants from different sectors come together to exchange data and pool analytical expertise. Their potential is great, offering new solutions to old problems and making International Civil Society Organisations more effective.

The need for innovation is clear: The twenty-first century is shaping up to be one of the most challenging in recent history. From climate change to income inequality to geopolitical upheaval and terrorism: the difficulties confronting international civil society organisations (ICSOs) are unprecedented not only in their variety but also in their complexity. At the same time, today’s practices and tools used by ICSOs seem stale and outdated. Increasingly, it is clear, we need not only new solutions but new methods for arriving at solutions.

Data will likely become more central to meeting these challenges. We live in a quantified era. It is estimated that 90% of the world’s data was generated in just the last two years. We know that this data can help us understand the world in new ways and help us meet the challenges mentioned above. However, we need new data collaboration methods to help us extract the insights from that data.

Untapped data potential

For all of data’s potential to address public challenges, the truth remains that most data generated today is in fact collected by the private sector – including ICSOs who are often collecting a vast amount of data – such as, for instance, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which generates various (often sensitive) data related to humanitarian activities. This data, typically ensconced in tightly held databases toward maintaining competitive advantage or protecting from harmful intrusion, contains tremendous possible insights and avenues for innovation in how we solve public problems. But because of access restrictions and often limited data science capacity, its vast potential often goes untapped.

Data Collaboratives as a solution

Data Collaboratives offer a way around this limitation. They represent an emerging public-private partnership model, in which participants from different areas — including the private sector, government, and civil society — come together to exchange data and pool analytical expertise.

While still an emerging practice, examples of such partnerships now exist around the world, across sectors and public policy domains. Importantly several ICSOs have started to collaborate with others around their own data and that of the private and public sector. For example:

  • Several civil society organisations, academics, and donor agencies are partnering in the Health Data Collaborative to improve the global data infrastructure necessary to make smarter global and local health decisions and to track progress against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Additionally, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) built Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), a platform for sharing humanitarian from and for ICSOs – including Caritas, InterAction and others – donor agencies, national and international bodies, and other humanitarian organisations.

These are a few examples of Data Collaboratives that ICSOs are participating in. Yet, the potential for collaboration goes beyond these examples. Likewise, so do the concerns regarding data protection and privacy.

At The Governance Lab (GovLab) at New York University, we have researched in depth the potential of Data Collaboratives, and have identified five specific public value propositions. We are also clear in the need for organisations in Data Collaboratives to embrace establishing “Data Stewardship” roles to ensure responsible data management.

In the next blog, I will go into greater detail about GovLab’s work and explain how ICSOs could use Data Collaboratives to their benefit more, and how they can manage data responsibly.

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Disrupt and Innovate in a Data-Driven World

13. Februar 2018 - 6:30

If you do an internet search for ‘data-driven disruption’ you can find articles about almost every industry being disrupted by digitalisation and new applications of data. Banking, transportation, healthcare, retail, and real estate, all have seen the emergence of new business models fundamentally changing how customers use their services. While there are instances of data-driven efforts in the nonprofit sector, they are not as widespread as they can be. Bridgespan Group estimated in 2015 that only 6% of nonprofits use data to drive improvements in their work.  

At the same time, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a very ambitious global change agenda and we won’t be able to meet their targets by doing business as usual. To achieve the SDGs requires new ideas across the board: new solutions, new sources of funding, new ways of delivering services and new approaches to collaborating within and across social, public and private sectors.  

The private sector already very successfully uses data analytics and machine learning not only to realise efficiency gains but also – even more importantly – to create completely new services and business models. For example, applying machine learning to wind forecasting is expected to reduce uncertainty in wind energy production by more than 45% and will allow utilities to integrate wind more easily with traditional forms of power supply. And entirely new utility start-ups such as Drift use machine learning technologies to provide customers with cheaper wholesale energy prices by more accurately predicting consumption. 

In the nonprofit sector, early applications of data analytics and machine learning have mostly focused on improving fundraising and marketing. In a next step, the broader adoption of data analysis techniques and tools has the potential to help nonprofits increase their programmatic impact as well as identify completely new ways of achieving their mission.  

  1. Gain improved intelligence on operating context and needs through expanded use of descriptive analytics techniques. On the program side, teams largely tend to use descriptive analytics – statistical techniques that provide insight into the past and answer: “What has happened?” – on survey data, sometimes complemented by samples from larger raw datasets, e.g. Facebook posts or tweets. In many settings this is the best information available. However, it presents obvious drawbacks: given the expense and time required to conduct surveys we frequently operate based on information that is years old. Also, surveys are often run to confirm or refute certain hypotheses making it challenging to utilise existing survey data to answer new sets of questions. The more we can directly analyse raw data, such as today’s internet searches, the more we will be able to obtain a close to real-time picture of the situation on the ground. Applying data analytics and machine learning to large raw datasets will likely also yield us new and unexpected insights as these techniques and tools allow us to unearth patterns and seek potential explanations for those in contrast to responding to a predefined set of questions.
  2. Identify those most at risk or most affected by a problem more accurately by using predictive analytics. For example, a County Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania recently implemented a predictive risk model designed to improve screening decision-making in the county’s child welfare system. The model integrates and analyses hundreds of data elements. The resulting score predicts the long-term likelihood of home removal and provides a recommendation on whether a follow-up investigation is warranted. The model has been shown to be effective in preventing the screening-out of at-risk children. It has also lowered the number of investigations with potential disruptive effects on low-risk families. One could imagine similar models being applied to screening cases of domestic violence or abuse of domestic migrant workers.
  3. Achieve best possible outcomes for individuals through the application of prescriptive analytics. In healthcare, some hospitals are now generating predictions of a patient’s readmission risk at the time of diagnosis. Patients with a higher likelihood of returning to the hospital within a month receive additional care and supports such as home visits. This has reduced the readmission rates and freed up resources that can be used to treat additional patients. There are many possible use cases for prescriptive analytics in the development sector, particularly in health where we have much existing data on what works in light of specific risk factors. Tools that incorporate these models could assist community health workers in triaging cases and prioritising their workload. They could also be applied to people suffering from addictions or people with learning challenges to prescribe individualised treatment and support plans.   

As these approaches become more mature and wide-spread in their application their impact will go much beyond making workflows more efficient. They have the potential to fundamentally disrupt how we work and what we define as our core competencies. Today, it may seem challenging to move towards a future where recommending who to support and how could be largely automated. I also don’t want to minimise the challenges in this scenario: the availability of required data and the privacy issues involved.  

However, I want to encourage us to actively embrace and shape this future as its potential for positive impact is immense. We need to work together to ensure that the automation involved in these techniques and tools will provide valuable insights that support humans in making thoughtful and effective decisions, free up our valuable and constrained resources and focus them on those parts of our work that truly make a difference in people’s lives.  

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We failed the Internet, will we fail the Blockchain?

6. Februar 2018 - 13:34

Chapter 1: The Internet 

Today I read a journal request about the charity sector reaching a digital tipping point. It’s 2018 is the sector really talking digital tipping point.

The introduction of the internet and the plethora of services, knowledge and communication has changed humanity for good and for bad. 

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say the charity sector missed the opportunity to truly use this new and exciting platform for good, yes there are some good exceptions but in general we missed it, instead we let the commercial world dominate the direction and were left simply as consumers of those services and platforms.  


Why did we miss it?, well to be honest, we didn’t stand a chance;  

  • Our appetite for risk 
  • Limited funds 
  • The need for others to lead (we need that case study before we leap) 

Chapter 2: Blockchain 

Blockchain is in a real hype cycle, just like the internet back in 1999 and just like the internet, there is a bubble, it will burst, but out of the other side giants will rise and just like the internet there are concerns about those that. The blockchain has such potential including the chance maybe 5% maybe 50% but a chance, that the majority of money will move to run on blockchains as cryptocurrency, making it the biggest change in financial power ever.   

Blockchain offers much more potential past currency and asset, but in voting, voice, trust and identity new opportunity and new hope, but the potential of this hope can only be fulfilled by good actors.  

This time we need you involved, not looking at the sidelines waiting for others to lead, we need you to lead, we need you to see the opportunity, the risk and help shape it. If you don’t, then just like with the internet, you’ll leave a void that others will fill. 

Will we miss Blockchain? 

Well the reasons we missed the internet are still true today 

  • Our appetite for risk 
  • Limited funds
  • The need for others to lead 

The first 2 are solvable. If CSOs and Charities work together with partners to utilise and explore the opportunity, the risk is shared and funds are multiplied allowing us to move from simply talking and watching to taking real action. 

The big question for me is will you lead and help shape this space for good or follow and let others decide who wins and who losses. 


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We failed the Internet, will we fail the Blockchain?

6. Februar 2018 - 6:38
Chapter 1: The Internet 

Today I read a journal review about the charity sector reaching a digital tipping point. It’s 2018 and everyone is talking about is a digital tipping point.  

The introduction of the internet and the plethora of services, knowledge and communication has changed humanity for good and for bad. 

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say the charity sector missed the opportunity to truly use this new and exciting platform for good, yes there are some good exceptions but in general we missed it, instead we let the commercial world dominate the direction and were left simply as consumers of those services and platforms.  

Why did we miss it?

Well, to be honest, we didn’t stand a chance;  

  • Our appetite for risk 
  • Limited funds
  • The need for others to lead (we need that case study before we leap) 

 Chapter 2: Blockchain 

Blockchain is in a real hype cycle, just like the internet back in 1999 there is a bubble effect about it, it will burst, but out of the other side giants will rise and just like the internet there are concerns about those that will. The blockchain has such potential, their is exists a chance perhaps 5% or maybe 50% but a chance, that the majority of money circulation and exchanges will move to run on blockchains as cryptocurrency, making it the biggest change in financial power ever.   

Blockchain offers much more potential beyond currency and assets, but in voting, voice, trust and identity new opportunities and new hopes. The potential of this hope can only be fulfilled by good actors.  

This time we need you involved, not looking on from the sidelines waiting for others to lead, we need you to lead, we need you to see and seize the opportunity, the risk and help shape it. If you don’t, then just like with the internet, you’ll leave a void that others will fill. 

Will we missout on Blockchain? 

Well the reason we missed out the internet are still true today: 

  • Our appetite for risk 
  • Limited funds 
  • The need for others to lead 

The first 2 are solvable. If CSOs and Charities work together with partners to utilise and explore the opportunity, the risk is shared and funds are multiplied allowing us to move from simply talking and watching to taking real action. 

The big question for me is will you lead and help shape this space for good or follow and let others decide who wins and who losses?


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How are Blockchain and Big Data currently being used in the civil society sector?

30. Januar 2018 - 6:30

The International Civil Society Centre is hosting its second Innovators Forum on 27-28 February 2018. The Forum will explore the benefits and possible uses of Blockchain and Big Data in the civil society sector. Before the Forum, guest authors will dive into specific examples or innovations around digitalisation and digital technology, in this week’s blog we want to give a brief overview of the main terms and some examples of their uses.

Many CSOs around the world have realised the potential linked to both Blockchain and Big Data and are currently experimenting with how these technologies can support their work.

Big Data – what is that?

The term Big Data refers to extremely large datasets that can be analysed for trends and correlations by connecting different data on a large scale. Due to the size and complexity of the data sets used, new links and patters can be uncovered. This means that problems that were previously not possible – or simply too complex! – to explain can now be tackled. Most CSOs work with Big Data to improve knowledge about marginalised or ignored groups of people and to identify better ways to serve them. Here are three examples how:

Collecting Big Data

Plan International is leading the way in developing a digital birth registration tool. Its aim is to help register the millions of undocumented births around the world to lay the groundwork for better health care, education and access to other government services. The system draws on mobile phone technology to reach people and places that governments fail to document, mostly due to the lack of resources.

Using Big Data

Caroline Buckee, a Harvard University epidemiologist, used the data of 15 million mobile phones in Kenya to demonstrate how human travel patterns contribute to the spread of malaria. Based on this data, she helped pinpoint where best to focus government efforts to control malaria.

Connecting the Dots of Big Data

The Centre-hosted project Leave No One Behind is combining smaller data sets to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Using evidence collected by ICSOs in four pilot countries, the goal is to identify the drivers of exclusion in local contexts, and support joint advocacy that will encourage governments to be accountable for their SDG promises.

Blockchain – what is that?

Blockchain is a network technology that allows to complete any kind of transactions or verification processes in a transparent way. It is a distributed ledge that everyone can view. Thus a transaction, sending a data block (hence the name), is viewable to all and not reversible or modifiable, making Blockchain transparent and accountable.

Many CSOs and social entrepreneurs are using Blockchain technology to increase the efficiency of their operations or increase accountability around the social issues they aim to tackle. Here are a few small examples:

Transferring funds faster and cheaper

Disberse facilitated the transfer of donations to a school in Swaziland using Blockchain-based technology, saving £375 in international bank transfer fees. The United Nations World Food Programme distributed cryptocurrency-based vouchers to 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Increasing accountability in supply chains

Blockchain can be used track and verify interactions between different actors around the globe. Bext360 and Fairfood International aim to ensure fair wages and prices for producers and farmers by monitoring the entire supply chains of coffee, coconuts and other products.

These are just a few examples of the way Big Data and Blockchain are being used to innovate in the civil society sector and beyond. We want to discover more ideas, case studies and stories with our partners, colleagues and friends from across civil society. We also want to look at some of the challenges that come with the use of these technologies: How do we ensure that the sensible data is properly secured and not misused? How do we design projects in an inclusive way and increase the number of people who benefit from technological opportunities?

The Innovators Forum will be a starting point, but we will cover different aspects of digitalisation and digital technology through the year 2018. If you want to get involved or share your own work in this space, get in touch!

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Digitalisation offers CSOs huge opportunities and great challenges

23. Januar 2018 - 6:30

Digitalisation is having an enormous influence on the new infrastructure of global society in the 21st century. It is changing the playing field as we speak and forcing us to adapt quickly to new circumstances, changing the way we see ourselves and our organisations. The World Economic Forum talks about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” when describing the current digital revolution.[1]

More than just laptops

CSOs also need to consider digitalisation as more than just laptops, mobiles and Internet connections. Digitalisation must move out of the back office to all parts of our organisations, and begin to lead projects in order to have a significant impact on our missions and stakeholders. Digitalisation should be about how we get new and existing work done on every level of our organisations. It must contribute to our thinking about how to reinvent our organisations to achieve better impact.

Huge opportunities

There is huge potential for CSOs to identify opportunities linked to digitalisation. For example, how can we use data in a way that increases our knowledge and understanding about our beneficiaries? How can we use technology to strengthen the participation of stakeholders? CSOs should start experimenting more with how digitalisation might affect all areas of work. CSOs should also seek to collaborate with others in order to take advantage of progress that has been made and to share the risks and costs of digitalisation with each other. There are indeed good case studies to learn from. For instance, the use of Blockchain Technology enables CSOs to target their programmes more precisely to the needs of the people. However, much more could be done.

Great challenges

On the other hand, digitalisation is linked to challenges that should not be overlooked and that need innovative solutions. Data security and privacy in the virtual space are huge issues and should be given sufficient attention. In times of increasing restrictions on civic rights and where various actors have access to people’s behavioural patterns in the virtual space, there is a significant drive to make use of information of what people think, and an increasing ability to restrict people’s use of online space. Many CSOs or digital activism platforms are not sufficiently sensitised in regard to these issues, which is problematic as they possess a lot of sensitive personal information. As a result, civic actors might unintentionally endanger their own beneficiaries through an improper use of their digital assets, which poses a risk for the credibility and trust of our sector.

While making use of the opportunities that digitalisation brings, CSOs need to develop alternative approaches and tools that are part of a value and rights based agenda. We need to protect civic rights and make sure that inequality does not grow through digitalisation. CSOs can act as a vanguard of change and establish an approach to digitalisation where people’s needs are served while personal information is simultaneously protected.

Various parts of the International Civil Society Centre’s work in 2018 will focus on the topic of digitalisation. Our Innovators Forum on 27-28 February will explore how CSOs can benefit from digital innovation and Vision Works on 17-19 April 2018 will run under the topic ICSOs in a Digital World. If you have any ideas about how CSOs should – or inspiring examples of how they already do – approach this topic, please get in touch!


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2018 – For a year of more resilient and accountable civil society

16. Januar 2018 - 6:30

In recent years, governments around the world have responded to increased activism, protests and political engagement of citizens and various civil society actors with cracking down on civic space. Unfortunately, these trends have not passed the Western Balkans and Turkey by either.

As restrictions on foreign funding (in Kosovo, Turkey), barriers to registration (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey), intervention in CSOs’ internal affairs (Macedonia and Turkey), negative narratives (Serbia and Macedonia), and declining public trust in civil society in almost all of the countries become the new normal in this region, civil society and donors are going to have to adapt to this context:

We need to promote an enabling environment for civil society development

The political calamities coupled with the rise of citizens’ unrest and humanitarian (migrants) crises, not only have left little room for improvements of the environment, but have also led to narrowing the space for civil society development, especially in the area of basic freedoms. In the efforts of creating an enabling environment, there needs to be regular monitoring and reliable reporting of trends to track whether civil society space is worsening or improving, and trigger alerts to drive response action. To this end, in 2012, the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), with support of its member CSOs and legal experts, developed the first Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for CSDev for measuring the health of the legal, regulatory, and financial environment in which CSOs in the region operate. Solid, timely research and advocacy goals are needed to enable CSOs’ inclusion in policy-making, as a way to more transparent, predictable and quality policies, as well as a common understanding and reaction of the sector when these are breached.

We need to improve our accountability & transparency practices

In times of changing role of civil society and active pressures, civil society actors need to ensure they retain their integrity and high levels of trust. Apart from improving civil society’s performance by creating an enabling environment for civil society development, improvement “from within” is also necessary. A recently launched global initiative aimed to enhance CSO accountability as a direct act against the shrinking of civic space is the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, developed by nine well-established civil society networks from around the world, including BCSDN. As reinforced by the Global Standard, investment in dynamic accountability – a concept where the constituencies are in the core of the organisations’ functioning – has the potential to transform the CSO sector into a highly participative and responsive one. A set of jointly developed and owned commitments on how CSOs carry out their work and apply these principles can help CSOs hold themselves and their partners accountable to a shared standard.

Donors need to support us in improving both the environment and ourselves

Financial sustainability is one of the top priorities for organisations that are often dealing with budget cuts and shifting priorities of the donor community. CSOs need to engage with donors to adapt their funding mechanisms to support building capacities of CSOs to be resilient and act quickly and efficiently in times of shrinking civic space. The growing demand for greater accountability and improved effectiveness, have been pressuring donors to change their funding practices, and some progressive donors have responded with including the final beneficiaries and those most affected to have a say on the funding they provide. This approach could give an example for the targeted recipients of these funds to follow.

In times when local challenges are in fact global ones, it is necessary that CSOs across the world cooperate globally to show solidarity, exchange experience in order to reclaim the trust from their constituencies, to build coalitions and join forces in promoting the civic space jointly.

Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)

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Accountability transformed – more than just a reporting exercise

9. Januar 2018 - 6:30

It can be difficult to explain just what it is that Accountable Now does. Most of my friends and family still don’t understand it. Indeed, save for those who are directly working on accountability issues in relation to civil society organisations (CSOs), most people still equate accountability with simply getting an organisation’s accounts in order.

However, to us it is much more than that – a dynamic approach encapsulating all aspects of an organisation’s operations, from inclusive and sustainable practices to engaging stakeholders in the design and implementation of policies and programmes.

As we celebrate Accountable Now’s 10th anniversary in 2018, I am excited to see how far we have come in our understanding and practice of accountability.  In the past year alone, Accountable Now has taken a number of steps to advance our approach to accountability. I would like to highlight three of these and shed some light on what exactly we have been working on.

Adopting the Global Standard for CSO Accountability

Our members have adopted the Global Standard for CSO Accountability as the 12 Commitments they strive to respect and promote. The 12 Commitments were created together with eight other accountability networks from around the world. The end product captures a globally shared, dynamic understanding of accountability, continuous engagement of stakeholders and demonstrating impact at its heart.

Transforming accountability into an ongoing dialogue is crucial for developing trust with stakeholders, encouraging continuous learning and change, and enhancing the credibility and legitimacy of CSOs.

Refining our annual reporting framework

To accompany our new accountability commitments, we have refined the reporting framework and questions against which our members report each year. Our aim is to make the process more:

  • Timely: By reducing the number of reporting questions from 90 to 34 and allowing flexibility in the format of reports, we hope to reduce submission timelines by up to 6 months. We also aim to provide feedback to our members within two months of submission (compared to four months previously). This means members should receive feedback 8 months after the end of the year their report covers, and be able to use it to shape their plans for the following year.
  • Global: We are getting rid of our standardised reporting template and encouraging members to explain how they fulfil the accountability commitments in reports that can be shared beyond our Independent Review Panel. By including this information in more accessible annual reports or global accountability reports, our members can share their successes and challenges with their stakeholders – and encourage further feedback.
  • Evidence and impact based: Instead of just asking about the policies and processes an organisation has in place, we are requesting evidence and examples of how these work in practice. Are they achieving the impact they aspire to? Is there meaningful change and growth taking place within the organisation?

We hope these changes will increase the utility of the reporting mechanism – both for our members and their stakeholders.

Furthermore, in the spirit of the Global Standard, the new framework and questions were co-created with our members through several rounds of consultations and will be reviewed and improved based on their continued feedback.

Exploring people-powered decision making

We have been working with six CSOs to explore how they can better involve their stakeholders’ feedback in decision-making processes. BRAC’s pilot involved asking smallholder milk farmers in Bangladesh to bring their milk to collection centres themselves, rather than sending it via a middleman. The milk farmers filled out periodic questionnaires about the challenges they faced and assistance they needed. Analysis of the responses was able to identify regional differences in the farmers’ needs, and more targeted assistance could be provided, e.g. in the vaccinations offered to the farm animals. This led to improved animal health and increased milk production. This example shows how consulting stakeholders can allow quick changes to be made to improve CSOs’ processes and programmes.

Along the way, we have learned how important it is to really understand one’s stakeholders and their needs, and to close the loop when asking for feedback. The mere process of involving stakeholders in decision making can mean that an organisation’s usual modus operandi is questioned, highlighting the crucial importance of internal buy-in, particularly at the management level.

From an organisation with compliance and reporting at its core, to one which is at the forefront of shaping innovative accountability practices, Accountable Now has grown tremendously over the past decade. In the next year, we are excited to take this further as we host the second phase of the Global Standard project and collaborate with others on exciting new accountability initiatives. Watch this space!

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When the Going Gets Tough…

2. Januar 2018 - 6:30

One year ago I reviewed the political environment in which civil society had to act and drew some conclusions for the year 2017. I expressed my expectation that “we will not succumb to Brexit and Trump” and demanded: “We urgently need to come together in a powerful global movement to defend tolerance against the intolerant, pluralism and the rule of law against authoritarianism, and our future as a global community against chauvinism and xenophobia.” What has happened in this respect over the past twelve months?

Oppressing citizens’ freedoms has become mainstream

As I write these lines the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, announces that he will not seek a second term in office due to the “appalling” climate for human rights advocacy. From our own work on citizens’ rights we know exactly what he means: during the past year several activists who worked with us and signed the Civic Charter were imprisoned, and many citizens and their organisations suffered from increased oppression and persecution. To name just one example: ActionAid Uganda, with a very impressive history of concrete achievements in the country, suffers from a range of oppressive measures by the government including their offices being raided by the police and their bank accounts frozen.

The ethic of solidarity is being replaced by the “survival of the fittest”

The US Senate has just approved a tax reform that will significantly lower the tax for companies and rich individuals. In simple terms this means: the rich will get even richer while the poor have to expect even less support from a government with empty coffers. Lower taxes will strengthen US companies in competition with companies from countries with higher tax rates. These countries may now be forced to take similar steps to level the playing field – with similar effects on poor people. As the world faces unique levels of income inequality the rich seem to become even greedier and the poor even more marginalised and exploited. Examples can be found in a wide range of very different contexts: increasing numbers of citizens in rich countries do not want to share their wealth with refugees fleeing from war and poverty; the richest region of Spain, Catalonia, no longer wants to share their wealth with the poorer parts of the country; the governing elite in Myanmar conducts pogroms among the marginalised Rohingya; etc.

Nationalism is on the rise while global challenges increase

More frequent and powerful hurricanes, more damaging forest fires, more floods in some parts and more droughts in others: climate change is picking up speed while our response continues to be inadequate. Little rocket man and big madman threaten each other with all-out war as the world stands by helplessly watching. The EU, OECD, UN, are all suffering from a loss of authority and resources. At a time of when the main challenges to humanity are global we seem to be falling back into a world of ruthless nationalism. As a post-war German, I grew up in a world which seemed to have learned from the disasters caused by aggressive nationalism. Now it looks as if we have forgotten the painful lessons two world wars provided.

Organised civil society is mostly failing to respond

Sadly, all these developments have not led to any major effort of organised civil society to respond. We haven’t seen the “powerful global movement” I hoped for one year ago, and we are far from seeing one any time soon. On the contrary, as the pressure increases, all too

many of us try to adapt to rather than resist the new populist and nationalist world. Trying to raise funds for our fight for civic rights has been a telling experience. At a time when we need to uphold global solidarity against the onslaught of aggressive nationalism, many donors have shifted their attention to the national level. For instance, for the past two years we have brought together activists from different countries to enable them to share their experiences and learn from each other how best to defend civic rights. To date, we haven’t secured any resources yet to conduct such a crucial meeting once again in 2018. While authoritarian governments are very effectively learning from each other how best to curtail their citizens’ freedoms, our sector doesn’t have any common strategy on how to organise our fight at the global level. Besides the foundations and governments, we asked 30 of the largest international civil society organisations to support our fight for civic freedoms – and their own rights to operate: to date without any tangible response.

… the tough get going

What does all of this mean for the year ahead of us? Let’s be honest: life for civic activists will get tougher, rather than easier. At these times of increasing pressure, the difference between committed activists and those who happen to pursue a career in the civil society sector will become much clearer; and the difference between mission-driven organisations and those that aim to maximise their income will become obvious. I recently spoke to an African activist who fights at the frontline defending civic rights. When I told him about our difficulties to secure funding he said: “It doesn’t matter. What is right needs to be done anyway.” People like him uphold the credibility and legitimacy of civil society.

I thought of him, and the many admirable activists who risk their lives to defend our freedoms, when I took my personal New Years’ resolution: I will stay in the fight for civic rights, no matter whether there is money to support this or not. And I took another resolution for 2018 and beyond: in the future I will only work with people who are truly and personally committed. On this basis I look forward to an exciting year 2018. I wish you all a wonderful year at the end of which you will feel proud of what you have done and what you have achieved.

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5 Main takeaways from the Launch of the Global Standard

19. Dezember 2017 - 6:30

In 2015 the nine Accountability Initiatives from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, supported by the International Civil Society Centre, began working together to the develop the Global Standard for CSO Accountability. On 6 December 2017 the Global Standard was officially launched during a session at the International Civil Society Week in Suva, Fiji. Participants came from all over the world to learn more about this tool and exchange ideas to promote dynamic CSO accountability. The following are my five main takeaways from the event:

1. A standard at the global level can only be a reference
The Global Standard is a reference standard that different organisations can use in various forms. Each CSO can decide what aspects of the Global Standard are the most useful to itself and to its members, and at which moment in time. Being a reference for reflection, discussion and change, it can be adapted to different cultural, geographical and organisational needs. The participants of our launch widely agreed that is an important quality of the Global Standard that it does not impose a set of guidelines in a top-down manner.

2. Accountability has to be dynamic
The Global Standard promotes a dynamic understanding of accountability that puts people in the centre of CSO decision making. We need to move beyond housekeeping exercises and encourage our organisations to engage in a dialogue with their stakeholders. Participants emphasised the importance of this approach for the sector. If we actively use stakeholder feedback to make decisions and honestly reflect on how we exercise power within our organisations, this will lead to more innovative and effective CSO work now and in the future.

3. We need to build a community
The Global Standard is only a tool and can therefore only be a starting point for a global community that practices Dynamic Accountability. If a dynamic approach to accountability is practiced by thousands of CSOs, it has the potential to transform the civil society sector into a highly participative and responsive actor, generating trust on the ground and leveraging stakeholder contributions for greater impact.

4. The Global Standard complements the Istanbul Principles and other frameworks
The Global Standard is guided by the Istanbul Principles and supports their implementation. In a video message, Julia Sanchez, co-chair of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), explained how the Global Standard and the CPDE have already started to explore how we can best work together: “We need to be coherent and send a strong message about the accountability of our sector and not stay divided and have competing systems”. Participants of our launch also emphasised the need for a collective narrative about our global commitment to accountability.

5. The Global Standard itself must be dynamic
Many participants brought in very good ideas on how the Global Standard could be further developed. The 12 commitments and associated key actions are not set in stone and will be revised in the future. This should be a collaborative approach in which we will consult a wide variety of actors to emphasise the standard’s global dimension.

Overall the participants were very interested in taking the Global Standard back to their organisations and highlighted the importance of Dynamic Accountability as crucial in times of shrinking civic space. We’re taking away a lot of inspiring ideas and interesting questions from the launch into our second project phase. And to truly walk the talk, we encourage everyone to send us any feedback on the event or the Global Standard itself via:

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We Need to Come to Terms with the Concept of Power

12. Dezember 2017 - 6:30

When civil society organisations (CSOs) speak about power they usually refer to the power of others, and they refer to power in negative terms: power is used to oppress and exploit, power corrupts. However, such a simplistic and prejudiced understanding of power is an obstacle to CSOs’ endeavours to achieve their missions. Our sector needs to change its understanding of power in order to increase its effectiveness.

Embracing POWER as a positive concept

When looking up the definition of power in a dictionary we find that power is simply “the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way”[1]. Power as such is neither positive nor negative. It is necessary in order “to do something”, be it good or bad. This means CSOs need power to achieve the positive aims they are working for. They are part of the eternal power struggle between good and bad, egotism and altruism, short-term gains and long-term sustainability, etc. In this context it is not only necessary for CSOs to strive for maximum power, it is ethically desirable, as long as CSOs use their power consistently and effectively to attain their mission.

Appreciating the POWER we have

In order to use their power effectively, CSOs have to learn to appreciate the power they have. All too often, I hear comments like “we are only a drop in the ocean”, “we have to be honest about our limitations”, “we don’t have any power at all”, etc. While it is desirable to be modest about our achievements, too much understatement also allows us to lower our ambitions. I once participated in the launch of a Save the Children health programme in Ethiopia worth several hundred million dollars. Being able to provide financial support at such a level clearly puts a CSO in a very powerful position. Where and how the organisation spends such a significant sum influences the course of national health policies.

The middle ground between understatement and overestimation of our position is just right: CSOs should undertake a sober analysis of the power they have and use that power as effectively as possible. In one of my earlier posts in September 2015 I wrote: “We need to become more ambitious and more effective in turning our common dreams into real power, and in directing this power much more strategically towards our missions.” I still believe that this is essential.

Reviewing the distribution of power in our own organisations

The fact that our sector has largely avoided looking at its own power, has led to neglecting the question of power distribution within CSOs. Especially international CSOs, which usually raise their income in the Global North and spend it in the Global South, have to take a closer look at the power distribution in their own organisations. I recently heard a CEO of one of the major international CSOs say: “Our largest fundraising country is USA, our largest programme country is India – something must be wrong in our set-up when nearly all the power lies with the fundraisers and so little with the programmes that aim to achieve our mission.”

In a post of September 2017, I looked at the ongoing efforts of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) to reform their governance and found that all too often reform processes focus on changing governance structures or Board compositions, while not addressing the underlying power relations. As long as power in international CSOs is distributed in such a way that decisions about programmes in India – or other countries of the Global South are taken in the USA – or other countries of the Global North – the organisations invite criticism of both the effectiveness and legitimacy of their work.

Reallocating power where it best serves our mission

If we look at where power in international CSOs is located today, we will find that it is not where it would best serve the organisations’ missions. In the organisations I know, power predominantly lies with those who raise funds rather than with those who implement programmes; it lies at the national,  rather than at the local (and global) levels and it still lies in the Global North rather than in the Global South.

Conducting reorganisations, management or governance reforms without looking at the underlying power distribution will neither lead to better effectiveness, nor to more legitimacy. We need to start processes of organisational transformation with a sober analysis of where power lies in our organisation and where it should lie in order to make sure we achieve our mission. Shifting power is always a very difficult undertaking, as those who hold power are rarely prepared to let it go. However, the future of our organisations very much depends on our ability to shift power to where it makes the biggest positive difference.

The International Civil Society Centre will focus its 2018 annual project Empowering Southern Voices in ICSOs on the question how those who are supposed to benefit from CSOs’ work can be fully included in their decision making.

[1] Oxford Living Dictionaries

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Why it is essential that Civil Society Organisations embrace dynamic accountability

5. Dezember 2017 - 6:30

Never-ending news alerts inform us almost daily that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are coming under intense scrutiny, or are even shut down, by governments around the world. Civic space is shrinking, and we as a sector, have to take measures not just as an immediate response, but also have to set up our organisations in a way so they can resist such scrutiny and action. To cope with this task CSOs need to be transparent and accountable, which enhances the trust they publicly gain. More so, CSOs need to go beyond simple housekeeping exercises and implement the voices of all their stakeholders in decision-making processes: This is what we call Dynamic Accountability.

In the context of shrinking civic space we have seen more than once that governments use a narrative that delegitimises or even demonises CSOs. For example, they assert that CSOs are foreign agents aiming to undermine national sovereignty. This increases the view that especially large international CSOs are not seen as organisations ‘of the people’. As a result this creates more and more distance between an organisation and the people it is aiming to serve. If a CSO does not invest into enhancing this trust with people the narrative will move on and sink in the collective understanding of the people – even those who a CSO is directly working for.

The Global Standard for CSO Accountability is a tool that can help CSOs to build this trust with the people they work for and with the public. It guides CSOs with easy-to-understand commitments and key actions for Dynamic Accountability to gain more insight into the demands and needs of their stakeholders. This can help CSOs be ready to respond to threats by the government immediately, backed by the support of the people.

Nevertheless, implementing all of this is a long journey and threats can appear along the way. Currently, one of our Global Standard project partners, Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) Uganda, is experiencing what it means to be under such scrutiny. Having to pull together numerous documents to be ‘examined’ for every detail or even having your bank account frozen is not just extremely time consuming, but can reach to the roots of an organisation:

“The oppressive NGO Act and tougher regulations have been used to stifle the freedoms of the civil society sector, causing mistrust and suspicion between the government and civil society. The Global Standard provides an opportunity to prove to the government, and other stakeholders, that the civil society sector is proactively committed to a comprehensive and dynamic process of accountability. There will be no reason to be caught off-guard as long as the sector embraces this useful tool”, says Catherine Kanabahita, Executive Director, DENIVA.

Nevertheless, beyond the organisations that are under attack, shrinking civic space is about the threat towards the rights of the people that these organisations are working to protect. When human rights and fundamental freedoms are under attack, accountability and participation to fight for these rights go hand in hand. People will hesitate to participate in civil society in the absence of an enabling environment. Therefore, the accountability of CSOs to the public is a pre-requisite to ensure the effective participation of people. By leveraging more participation through inclusive accountability practices, CSOs can better position themselves to jointly advocate with the people for a common cause.

Without people’s participation, CSOs are vulnerable to governmental scrutiny. Without accountability to the people, CSO’s legitimacy can be questioned. Leveraging participation and enhancing accountability with inclusive measures improves our collective ability to respond to threats. We need to commit our organisations to a process of continuously learning from and with people, and therefor practice what the Global Standard calls Dynamic Accountability.

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