Global Perspectives 2017

7th November 2017 by Thomas Howie

New Resources for New Programmes


The ninth Global Perspectives conference took place on 1-3 November 2017 in Mexico City and brought together an international audience of about 80 participants from national and international civil society organisations (CSOs), governments and business. The conference offered a platform for exploring new approaches to conducting and funding civil society activities. Presentations, panel discussions, work sessions and peer-to-peer exchange offered an effective platform for open exchange, high-quality conversations and intense networking.

The conference quickly reached consensus that only transformational change will enable civil society to address the significant challenges that lie ahead. Key aspects of the required transformation are:

  • Development and service delivery programmes need to be shaped and owned by the people who are supposed to benefit. This means that a significant power shift is required away from CSOs and their donors towards the people and communities in the Global South.
  • Digitisation allows supporters to transfer their donation directly to the organisation they want to support. Thus the intermediary role of many CSOs is being disrupted. In order to remain relevant CSOs have to present a much wider and deeper range of activities to their supporters.
  • Campaigning organisations need to shift their focus away from individual actors (campaigners in rubber dinghies) towards the citizens and communities that support their mission.
  • Today’s activists find each other and organise their activities on open platforms and no longer in closed organisations. CSOs need to turn themselves into platforms, accepting a loss of control and decision making power.
  • New forms of volunteerism and digital activism are emerging. They are the basis on which CSOs have to engage with the next generation of supporters.
  • Today’s social entrepreneurs base their activities on concrete and measurable demand rather than assumed needs. Many consider grants as a paternalistic means of support. CSOs need to learn from them how to explore what the people they want to support really need.
  • New technologies and approaches such as Blockchain and big data will reshape the civil society sector. CSOs should embrace and explore new technologies and optimally position themselves for their use to advance their mission.

Participants predominantly rated the conference as “very good”. They especially enjoyed the networking, the workshop sessions and the facilitation. They further recommended to include a more diverse group of participants and to have a session taking place outside the conference venue.

The next Global Perspectives conference will take place in Berlin, Germany on 31 October – 2 November. Please save the date – we look forward to hosting you there!

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre