Our hopes for this report

The International Civil Society Centre hopes this report:

Recognises the amazing efforts of the innovators who have understood and shared the opportunities and roles which exist for civil society organisations (CSOs) working within city ecosystems to influence and transform these to be more inclusive.

Offers you creative inspiration as you explore strategies and roles to reach and work with new partners, engage new audiences, and devise new ways of working – and thinking – in complex urban contexts.

Increases your knowledge of diverse urban contexts and civil society responses to them – working in partnership with city authorities and multiple stakeholders – in different regions of the world, to make cities more inclusive of a range of key populations and whole communities.

Inspires sharing and learning across our sector, thereby catalysing further innovation and ultimately a stronger and more resilient civil society. We want to spur organisations to work together to implement and scale these strategies, wherever possible.


Our reasons for this report

The International Civil Society Centre’s 2019–2021 strategy aims to highlight innovations that can benefit the civil society sector internationally. We seek to advance understanding of the most promising innovations, both inside and outside our sector, that can be applied to tackle common contemporary challenges. To achieve this aim, we have collected and shared some of the most inspiring and interesting examples in this second edition of our annual Innovation Report format, with the hope of fostering an interactive platform for sharing innovative ideas and best practices among international and local CSOs and networks.

CSOs are innovators. They test new approaches to both traditional and emerging problems. One of today’s most prominent and influential global megatrends is the rapid but unplanned urbanisation taking place around the world, which risks excluding the priorities of many groups of people living in cities from formal planning and decision-making processes. While CSOs have achieved some success in addressing these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for organisations to learn and benefit from the lessons others have encountered. That is the goal of this annual report.


Our thanks for this report

A huge thanks to all of our 14 case study collaborators: ActionAid Association India, Amend, The Asia Foundation, Women for the World and Thibi, Community Solutions, Habitat for Humanity International, HelpAge International, Mosaico – Action for Refugees, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Slum Dwellers International (SDI) Kenya and Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), Plan International, Sightsavers India, South African Urban Food and Farming Trust (SAUFFT), Urban Refugees and partners, Welcoming Australia and Welcoming International and World Vision International and World Vision Honduras.

Particular thanks go to our champions, friends and guides on this journey, ActionAid Association India, Habitat for Humanity International, Plan International and World Vision International, whose invaluable advice, support and wisdom have shaped this report from its very inception, and been critical to its development and delivery over the past year.

A special mention to supportive colleagues from International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE) and UNICEF who connected us to some of the urban innovators included in this report.

Also thanks to our main communication partner, VerbalVisual, video producers GRYS Reflective Storytelling (South Africa), Marula Creative Consultancy (Uganda) and 25 Degrees (Myanmar), and podcast series producer Julia Pazos.

And a big thank you to our donor, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and its Strong Cities 2030 Initiative.

We could not have done this report without your support and inspiration.


About us

About the International Civil Society Centre

The International Civil Society Centre was founded in 2007 to support international civil society organisations (ICSOs) to maximise their impact for a sustainable and more equitable world. Our mission is to strengthen the impact and resilience of these organisations to support people to change their world for the better. The Centre is owned by 15 of the largest ICSOs working across environmental, human rights, social justice and humanitarian issues.

About the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) is a political foundation. In Germany, its 16 regional offices offer a wide variety of civic education conferences and events, whilst its offices abroad are in charge of over 200 projects in more than 120 countries. Its civic education programmes aim to promote freedom and liberty, peace, and justice. KAS focuses on consolidating democracy, the unification of Europe, the strengthening of transatlantic relations and development cooperation.

About Strong Cities 2030

With its global initiative “Strong Cities 2030”, launched in September 2018, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) responds to the need to build capacity, share know-how and best practices as well as facilitate international collaboration in terms of sustainable urban development amongst young local policy makers and experts.

Hear more about KAS’ Strong Cities 2030 Initiative and why it is supporting this report here.


The lead author and editor of this report was Vicky Tongue from the International Civil Society Centre. Case studies were co-created with the contributing organisations.

Aside from imagery and fonts, all content in this report is licensed under Creative Commons: CC-BY-NC-ND: Attribution – Non-Commercial Use – No Derivatives 4.0. Font and imagery rights are retained by their respective copyright owners.

Innovation Report     2020

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