Welcome to our 2021 flyer. You can download the flyer below to find out about what we plan to do this year and how you can get involved.
The Solidarity Action Network (SANE) is looking for case studies to include in its Solidarity Playbook, to be published later this year. We are looking for examples of strategies and resilience mechanisms of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and coalition responses to civic space restrictions that demonstrate how solidarity can work in practice. These strategies and responses may have come as a result of an undue threat or attack, equally they relate to the operating environment, for example a new law making it harder for CSOs to operate.
Continue reading if you are interested to learn more or have an example to share.
The Solidarity Action Network (SANE) brings together international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and their local partners to support each other when faced with undue threats and challenges to their operations or civic space restrictions more broadly. The network collects and shares knowledge and best practices, inspires collaborative actions and explores new solidarity mechanisms beyond public statements of solidarity.
The Solidarity Playbook is an integral part of the Solidarity Action Network. It collects case studies and best practices to help other civil society organisations respond to undue scrutiny and challenges, and to enable learning on how to act in solidarity with civil society actors, particularly local partners. A set of six initial Solidarity Playbook case studies has already been published and we would like your help in building this collection.
We are looking for more examples that capture best practices on:
1) Strategies and resilience mechanisms of ICSOs
We want to hear about strategies and resilience mechanisms of different ICSOs developed to respond to undue scrutiny and attacks such as legal restrictions, bureaucratic clampdowns, financial constraints, media and misinformation/disinformation attacks or digital and cybersecurity risks. We are particularly interested in learning from ICSOs which might not be an obvious target but have had to adapt their strategies due to the consequences of civic space restrictions.
2) Coalition responses to civic space restrictions that demonstrate how solidarity can work in practice
We want to look at coalition responses at different levels (local/national/regional/global level) and map how civil society organisations support each other, show solidarity and respond to threats and challenges with a unified voice. We are particularly interested in looking at connectivity between these levels, coalitions uniting different kinds of civil society organisations and cross-sector collaborations.
Then get in touch with Project Manager Eva Gondorová.
Then let us know what your case study is about by answering the questions below. Brief answers to all questions – also not required ones – would be very helpful for us to get a better idea of your case. After submitting this form, we will get in touch with you.
This page is part of a series of COVID-19 resource pages that we are creating to help civil society actors.
On this page, you will find links to readings, podcasts and videos related to the latest COVID-19 news and analysis. If you have a recommendation or a suggestion, let us know. Many thanks to our volunteer researcher Ineke Stemmet.
The sections are:
Staying up-to-date: Links to sites that will keep you abreast of important developments related to our sector and the latest news.
Strategic: We look at the impact and responses to COVID-19 in a general and intersectional way (i.e. impacts on human rights, climate change, etc).
Policy: Civil society’s policies that respond to challenges posed by COVID-19.
Operational: A list of what your organisation can do now to navigate these unprecedented times.
Data and Digital
Listen to people who experience racism. Follow Black and PoC influencers on social media. Being racist isn’t always intentional – reflect on yourself and acknowledge your unearned white privilege – it can get uncomfortable but don’t get defensive, instead, we should learn from our past mistakes.
Why saying “All lives matter” is an inappropriate response to “Black lives matter”? Why can’t I use the N-word? What is white privilege? Actively look for answers on your own. Google these questions, read articles and books from Black authors, watch videos about systemic racism and listen to podcasts about colonialism and slavery.
Take action, go to protests if you can. Sign petitions, donate money, inquire your legislators, amplify Black voices and give them space. Be actively anti-racist – don’t overlook racist behaviour in your family, among your friends, at your work, in public transport – speak up. And be persistent.
A great number of resource compilations have been created in recent weeks, it will help you with all of the above-mentioned actions, including lists of organisations where you can donate:
One month of WHO-declared pandemic has meant one month of crisis mitigation for civil society leaders. Ensuring staff care and safety and maintaining the continuity of operations was and is a priority task for any leader these days. In addition, staying healthy, looking after family and friends, is more than an activity on the side. We are grateful for all the efforts that have been undertaken to stay as safe as possible in the sector.
Civil society organisations (CSOs), big and small, global and local, are ‘system-relevant’ – it matters to millions of people that we remain operational and support the most vulnerable and their environment. It comes as no surprise that the SDG principle to ‘Leave no one behind’ has become a unifying theme of solidarity in response to the Coronavirus around the world, mirroring what our organisations stand for.
For CSOs to remain operational in the future will mean refocusing on the potential and foreseeable impacts of the crisis in countries of the global South – a humanitarian, health and food security crisis yet in the making. If we have learned anything from past disasters – man-made or so-called ‘natural’: it is always the most marginalised, the poorest and the least protected who will bear the highest burden.
We cannot yet foresee whether direct or indirect consequences of Coronavirus will affect livelihoods most. For example, the indirect ones on the horizon might be much graver in the medium to long term – such as re-direction of aid flows towards domestic issues, dwindling global solidarity and growing nationalism, scarcity of economic resources, to name but a few.
Four weeks into the crisis and civil society leaders are strategising and planning for mid-term and longer-term implications. Information (and opinion) overload still need to be interpreted, but there are some valuable resources that are useful for thinking and planning ahead. The Centre has collected a number of pieces that will help navigate the immediate and longer-term future, and so have other civil society networks.
Already, numerous valuable advocacy initiatives are kicking in. They are occurring in order of urgency rather than priority, such as:
And we hear encouraging statements from global leaders like WHO Executive Director Thedros Ghebreyesus, making sure that the poorer continents do not become testing grounds for the wealthier nations.
As more advocacy statements and initiatives are being rolled-out, we need to make sure that there is not a competition of concerns and mandates, but that we remain connected over the aims that we all share.
Further ahead is scenario planning. Futurists and foresighters are looking at weak and strong signals on post-Coronavirus situation. The most unlikely scenario will be “business as before”, once a vaccine or treatments are found. The biggest questions appear around so-called ‘systems changes’ – is the globalist, capitalist, financial and political system good enough in times of increasing global challenges? Where will our societies drift – back into nationalist and inward-looking behaviours, or forward towards global solidarity, interconnected actions and multilateral governance? And how will the current experience affect our dealing with ‘the other’ large global crisis around climate change?
Highly relevant to these future systems will be the role of organised civil society, whether it is around aid, social discourse, political decision-making or framing the narratives that hold our societies together. Civil society in the ‘sector’ (of development, social justice, environment and human rights) has undergone continuous transformations over the past decades, but it is challenged to keep pace with the current crisis, its responsibilities, and yes, the opportunities that come with it. We should not let others define the future of the values and systems that matter for civil society around the world.
Our most significant contribution to overcoming this crisis will be working in collaboration, focusing on the solidarity and empathy. Our humanistic values that bind us and the societies we work in demand that we are forward-looking and strategic in our actions, irrespective of the high operational pressures out there. Putting people, unorganised and organised civil society at the centre of post-Coronavirus planning is the task we need to unite behind and show collective leadership.
This page is part of a series of COVID-19 resource pages that we are creating frequently to help civil society actors.
On this page, you will find links to readings, podcasts and videos related to the latest Coronavirus news and analysis. This selection is based on what the International Civil Society Centre and its staff find useful. If you have a recommendation or a suggestion, let us know.
There are three sections to this page:
Staying up-to-date: Links to sites that will keep you abreast of important developments related to our sector and the wider context
Strategic Analysis: We look at the impact and responses to Coronavirus in a general and intersectional way (i.e. impacts on human rights, climate change etc).
Operational and Leadership: A list of what your organisation can do now to navigate these unprecedented times
Aline Rahbany, Director for Urban Programming at World Vision International, explains that in this “urban century” it is paramount for international civil society organisations to rise to the complex and interconnected challenges presented by cities in order to improve people’s lives. She suggests several different ways for ICSOs to do “things differently” in order to meet this challenge. Aline will be out or networking event at the World Urban Forum on 10 February, please join her and us if you are there.
Around us, people are continuously moving to cities, towns and other rapidly urbanising areas. Due to innovation in technology and infrastructure, the world is connected in a way as never before. Cities are providing opportunities for improved wellbeing, happiness and productivity. But not everyone is entitled or able to access these opportunities. Inequality is on the rise. The face of poverty has changed. Urban residents and communities are grappling with increased fragility. Violence, wars and conflicts are increasingly occurring in cities. For the first time in history, a stand-alone goal exists to make “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” – livable for all. While this commitment should be celebrated, fundamentally the international community continues to fail at producing cities that serve everyone equally.
Like other international civil society organisations (ICSOs), World Vision has been investing in alleviating poverty and responding to emerging disasters and crises, mostly in rural, stable communities. Over the past 10 years, as an organisation, we have been forced to direct our attention to understanding the new trends of poverty and humanitarian crises, not least because children are the first casualties. Urban contexts are complex and challenging: there are multiple layers of governance; inequity can be seen with informality and extreme poverty present at very close proximity to high-rise buildings and rich financial institutions; the number of key urban players and influencers is massive.
In such settings:
Over the past 10 years implementing urban programming, World Vision has learned that we need to be doing things differently. It takes a whole-organisation approach to comprehensively address the issues faced by the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in urban contexts. It is not only about innovation in programming, but also taking steps toward more structural, organisational change to increase agility, flexibility and responsiveness to a fast-changing environment.
The city provides opportunities to work differently. Population density means we can reach more people living in the same geographic area than with our rural interventions. Infrastructure and mobility allow for faster response. Functional markets present opportunities to boost the local economy. Cities often have financial resources that CSOs can tap into.
There is still, however, so much more to learn about working effectively in urban areas affected by poverty, violence, conflicts and fragility:
I am very excited to be part of the upcoming World Urban Forum 10 Networking Event on “Civil Society Innovation and Urban Inclusion” where I will join peers from other CSOs to discuss how our organizations have been working differently to address the issues and needs of excluded groups in cities and other urban areas. Visit our website to find out more about World Vision’s work in cities.
In 2020, we will ‘go urban’ with our Innovation Report. The Centre’s track record as a sector convenor and innovation accelerator places us perfectly to build a diverse group of innovators and thinkers. The aim is to gather and share your stories to benefit others in our 2020 Innovation Report. We kick off our 2020 Innovation Report discussions at a networking event at the World Urban Forum. If you are there, we welcome you to join us next month. Alternatively, get in touch to register your interest (bottom of page) in being part of the report.
As anyone who works in the civil society sector knows, finding time to collaborate with partners is difficult. Throw in the resources required to complete a shared project, then it does not matter how excellent your idea is, it is going to be a struggle to achieve your objectives. This is where the Centre’s expertise and experience as a sector convenor comes in.
We’re used to finding the right people and creating an environment for them to share insights and innovations. We play this role for a broad range of actors, from Board members and CEOs to innovation managers and global strategists. This year, we’re bringing our convening expertise to a new community of global urban leads. We want to help bring your innovations to benefit a wide civil society audience.
Innovations can be game changers for civil society organisations. But what if they haven’t heard about the latest innovations of others, or don’t know how to apply them in the world?
Our aim is to highlight and explain how innovations can benefit the civil society sector and be used to tackle common challenges. In 2019, we looked at populism, and how civil society tools and tactics are evolving and innovating in response. We included a huge diversity of organisational missions, profiles and experiences from across our events and networks and around the world, highlighting universal practical tips and inspiring insights.
These diverse organisations and people may never have had the time or the resources to bring to a wide audience their stories of innovation. Yet the wealth of diverse experience generated a fantastic resource for the civil society sector.
In 2016, a report we produced, ‘Exploring the Future’,highlighted that for international CSOs, working on urban issues or at the city level was not as big a priority or area of expertise, as poverty alleviation experience in rural settings or national-level focused advocacy.
Arguably, not much has visibly changed since then in terms of focus or resourcing. However, urban settings and actors are central to the changing nature and locales of poverty and inequality. They also hold the key to solving the climate crisis. The speed and complexity of change in urban contexts is faster than ICSOs can currently keep up with. The interplay with other trends is also multi-directional and unpredictable, requiring greater agility and speed to shift operational modes.
Urban contexts pose additional complexities requiring ICSOs to innovate, including:
Our 2020 Innovation Report will collate and contrast roles and approaches to co-produce new insights, provide a common learning agenda, and communicate effectively to wider audiences about the important urban impacts these organisations are achieving
Join the Centre and our partners at the World Urban Forum (WUF) on 10 February!
Where better than the world’s foremost meeting of leaders shaping the agenda of our urban future, to begin our journey to develop our 2020 Innovation Report, build our community of civil society collaborators and supporters for this project, and shape plans for our future sector convening.
If you’re coming to WUF10 in Abu Dhabi next month, get in touch and come to our networking event with Habitat for Humanity, World Vision and Slum Dwellers International. Or if you can’t, but still keen to join this journey, get in touch anyway!
JOIN US on 10 February 2020
Millions of people have been on the streets in the past months, and civil society is showing its teeth towards climate crisis deniers and slow political actors.
Moreover, thousands were in the halls of the UN General assembly last week, pushing for climate and social justice and advocating for an acceleration of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the international community agreed upon four years ago.
Key aims – the 2-degree global warming cap, and the eradication of poverty, hunger and injustice, seem currently too far away from being realised. So there is an obvious and urgent need to increase collaboration, achieve (and to demonstrate) better impact and intensify social work.
At the same time, liberal ideas and actors experience grave pushbacks – both through authoritarian regimes and anti-liberal forces in many societies. The amount of hatred and opposition, which young civil society activists like Greta Thunberg receive these days, is unbearable and yet is just the tip of what seems to be happening around the world: an erosion of global values of solidarity and humanity, and growing confrontations between adverse worldviews.
Being part of a demonstration against inertia around the climate crisis, or enjoying the company of well-meaning globalists at the SDG and climate summits in New York gives us hope and spirit. However, it should not distract us from the antagonised world around us, which needs stronger engagement by and with civil society actors.
At the end of October, about a hundred representatives of civil society will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to share and discuss strategies of citizens’ engagement, achieve better impact through collaborations, and fight against the pushback on liberal values.
For a civil society organisation, being legitimate means dealing with questions and doubts, addressing flaws, and renewing societal contracts between social and environmental justice actors and with many other parts of society, especially the people they are serving. Hence, the participants of the International Civil Society Centre’s Global Perspectives conference will be a diverse mix of global and national actors, activist and service deliverers, academia, advocates, and supporters. The perspectives are global, but the actions always contextual. Being in Ethiopia, a country that has made remarkable steps towards embracing civic rights and liberal policies will give participants an inspirational setting for a meeting that will make a difference.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.