Virginie Coulloudon and Jed Miller

21 June, 2016

The current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

INGO_CroppedHere they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the second in a series of five.


As citizens in many democracies seek greater participation in public debate, international civil society organisations (ICSOs) are seeking a new model for advocacy: one where supporters become fuller participants in priority-setting and tactics, and where leadership demonstrates accountability to those participants on an ongoing basis.

“People power”, unleashed and expedited by newer technologies, can help ICSOs scale their impact – through crowdsourcing projects, for instance, that harness the input of thousands of unconnected individuals, or through networked campaigns that disseminate not only information but also campaign leadership across hundreds of small groups and thousands of miles.

People power enables ICSOs to augment or even replace traditional tools of advocacy. But many ICSOs – like the governments they work to persuade – remain too bureaucratic to pivot quickly, and too mired in hierarchy to convert grassroots ideas into programming decisions. Civil society leaders struggle to adjust, even when change can yield inspiration and a heightened sense of community.  MORE

Lauren Woodman

14 June, 2016

INGO_CroppedThe current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

Here they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the first in a series of five.

Digital_Accountability


In the not-too-distant past, concerned people who wanted to enact change had to work a lot harder to get involved: They had to find a civil society organisation (CSO) and go to meetings – in person! – and volunteer for committees or working groups. They might mail in a cheque and hope it was used to fund their initiative of choice. To reach others, they might canvas a neighborhood, petition in hand, knocking on doors and collecting signatures.

These types of actions are still valuable, to be sure. But thanks to the internet, the barrier of entry for activism is much, much lower. Online tools have created opportunities for an ever-increasing number of people to get involved in issues that matter to them. This can mean signing an online petition and sharing it on Facebook, starting a grassroots campaign on 350.org, or taking a local action to support the work of a global organisation. CSOs see the value in leveraging digital tools to connect people with information and action – not only can they mobilise and engage constituents more easily, they can benefit from the expertise and knowledge of millions of individuals. MORE

Alexia Skok

7 June, 2016

How leaders from some of the world’s most prominent civil society organisations (CSOs) ensure that poor and vulnerable people benefit from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Girls must be more effectively supported, people with disabilities better included, and civil society partnerships reinforced if we want to make significant headway towards fair and sustainable development, our experts say.

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The announcement of the SDGs has sparked stirring dialogue across the development sector; the agreement of comprehensive, inclusive goals that ‘leave no one behind’ has put forward a new challenge, and inspired organisations and governments across the globe to commit to achieving a sustainable, equitable world.

But what does this mean for the implementation process? How does the sector ensure that the inspiring, people-oriented rhetoric is converted into concrete actions that actually achieve sustainable progress? Our blog theme for the last seven weeks featured leaders working within the new global framework sharing their experiences, concerns, and calls to action on the topic of SDG implementation. MORE

Dominic Haslam

31 May, 2016

One undeniable trend in the development sector over the last few years has been people talking more about disability. From the WHO/World Bank World Report on Disability in 2011, through DFID’s first Disability Framework in 2014, to the UN’s adoption of disability within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015; disability appears to have captured the development community’s imagination.

Continuing the trend, the International Centre for Evidence in Disabilities’ (ICED) third international symposium earlier this year – Disability in the SDGs: Forming Alliances and Building Evidence for the 2030 Agenda – had a record turnout. More than 300 people attended from around the world, and from the disability community, official development agencies, NGOs and academia. The symposium generated 67 recommendations for its call to action, many linked to the SDGs. Clearly, there is much to do. MORE

Mitchell Toomey

24 May, 2016

MY_WORLD_GOALSIn September of last year the world witnessed an historic moment – leaders from every member state of the United Nations unanimously ratified a bold and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agreement emerged not only from the negotiating chambers at the UN but also from a radical and far reaching global conversation that eventually included more than ten million people and thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs), largely through the MY World 2015 survey. The mix of new and old techniques opened the negotiation process to a vivid display of the variety of experiences, knowledge and organisational forms which populate the civic space and left member states buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of people worldwide, ultimately resulting in a far reaching, complex and ambitious agenda for action.

Thus, the new Goals carry in their DNA openness and inclusiveness, and it is this same spirit that will be required in order for member states to achieve them. The shared vision of the SDGs will be tested as governments lead the process for their implementation: It is critical that space is created for a broad range of actors beyond those traditionally involved in development-related decision processes, if the scale and ambition of the agenda – to leave no one behind – is to be realised. Through the MY World survey initiative for example we saw a massive engagement from young people worldwide (over 70% of survey respondents were under 30 years of age) we must continue to harness this energy to not just debate what the agenda should be but to drive the agenda forward, foster innovation and mobilise new actors. MORE

Patrick Watt

17 May, 2016

Asha* was just 13 when she was forced to move in with her aunts because her parents had to move away for work. Despite the change, she was optimistic. She was looking forward to starting secondary school – and felt lucky in a country, Tanzania, where three-quarters of girls don’t get more than a primary education.

But when Asha moved, her aunts broke the news that they could not pay for her school fees. Devastated, Asha had to drop out of school and put her future hopes on hold.

That same year, aged 13, she was forced to marry. Her husband quickly became abusive, beating her daily and often withholding food. Soon she was pregnant and felt like she lost all hope to continue her education.

It’s the situation of children like Asha, denied the right to survive and learn through a combination of poverty and discrimination, which has driven Save the Children to launch its new global campaign, Every Last Child.

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We know the world has made unprecedented progress for children. Since 1990, the world has halved child mortality and the number of out-of-school children. But it’s also the case that there’s a huge unfinished agenda. Each year, over six million children die from preventable causes. Almost 60 million children remain out of primary school, and four times that number are in school but failing to learn. Increasingly, these children are being denied the opportunity to survive and learn because of who they are and where they live. We need new and innovative approaches to reach the most excluded children and deliver on the ambition set out in the Global Goals. MORE

Richard Pichler

10 May, 2016

What a joy it was last September for the international civil society sector: Pope Francis’ address touching many of today’s challenges; Presidents  of small and big nations giving their supportive views to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Malala conveying essential voices of young people; and the plenary of the General Assembly endorsing and applauding the SDGs.

UNSustainableDevelopmentGoals_w_logo-e1442391056454As civil society organisations (CSOs) we have come a long way in the development process of the SDGs; at the beginning, we were not at all sure if our arguments would be considered. Thanks to our joint efforts, and the clear message that we must have a seat at the table, we have harvested fruits. Many of the needs and the rights of the people we represent have become a priority. Just in time, we – smaller and bigger organisations alike – understood how much was at stake if we didn’t work together. We realised that our responsibility had to go beyond our organisational interests. This put healthy pressure on us, and we managed well under strict time constraints. But can we maintain this spirit in the implementation?

Even more energy is needed during the implementation process; now it’s about action. We know the goals, but what is the right approach to achieving them? We can’t allow ourselves to run off with great intensity into different – or even opposite – directions. We can’t think that we are faster alone, and that we can achieve quick, sustainable results without collaboration. My wish is to see us act in the spirit of cooperation that made us succeed in the advocacy phase.  MORE

Thomas Gass

3 May, 2016

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets resulted from the most inclusive policy dialogue the United Nations has ever organised, one in which civil society organisations (CSOs) fully participated.  This established a new benchmark for dialogue and inclusiveness at the UN. As the Secretary-General noted recently, there can be no going back.

The 17 SDGs address – in an integrated way – the most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges of our time. They are a universal and shared vision of humanity for transforming our society and projecting our planet. They form a social contract between the world’s leaders and ‘We the peoples’.

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Implementing this comprehensive and far-reaching Agenda will require all governments and decision-makers to commit to leave no one behind. It calls for adopting new approaches and breaking down silos. To begin such a transformation and place humanity on a more sustainable course, we need all hands on deck to work across borders and sectors, and move from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’.

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Diane Kingston

26 April, 2016

There has been much cause to celebrate the new 2030 Agenda; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a huge step forward when compared to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in many ways. We at CBM are delighted that disability is explicitly named within the 2030 Agenda, as persons with disabilities were excluded and invisible in the MDGs. However, there is always room for improvement – persons with disabilities continue to be referred to as one of the ‘marginalised’ or ‘vulnerable’ groups. Decision-makers must continuously name us explicitly; if you do not name persons with disabilities, then our specific human rights will not be addressed.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon rightly points out, ‘the true test of commitment to Agenda 2030 will be implementation’. The implementation of the new development agenda must be firmly anchored in human rights if we are to achieve its goals. Why? Because the SDGs are political goals and represent a strong political commitment, but they are voluntary, not legally binding. Human rights treaties can be used as key instruments in advancing human rights and when combined with the SDGs they provide tools to hold government accountable for both poverty elimination and upholding rights.

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Burkhard Gnärig

19 April, 2016

Co-author Peter Koblowsky, Project Officer – Convening, International Civil Society Centre

A powerful challenge, Leave no one behind, makes the difference between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While the MDGs could be fulfilled by raising the average wellbeing – which was easiest achieved by ignoring the poorest and most marginalised – the SDGs demand that everybody is included in the effort. And that means, in order to achieve the SDGs we have to place a special focus on those who are most in need, who are most severely excluded. The fact that the new goals are explicitly based on the demand to Leave no one behind is a badge of honour to millions of civil society activists, and thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs), working tirelessly over many years to secure that the SDGs would be fair and inclusive. Implementing this inspiring objective is the impressive global challenge we have to address today.
SDGs_Logo_cropAgainst this background, the International Civil Society Centre has conducted a survey among International civil society organisations (ICSOs), mapping their planned strategies and activities with regards to the implementation of the SDGs. The survey should help to identify gaps and overlaps between their approaches as a basis for a better alignment of their efforts. The Centre reached out to 30 leading ICSOs and received replies from 20 of them[i]. MORE