The 2016 edition of the CSO Forum, taking place in Brussels on 17-18 March, brought together CSOs from both the international development and human rights field from all over the world. The Forum’s purpose was to further the implementation of the EU policy shift towards supporting the enabling environment, participation and capacity of civil society as an actor of governance, as enshrined in its 2012 Communication “The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with Civil Society in external relations” and the strong EU commitment to promote and protect human rights, the rule of law and democracy worldwide, as outlined in the “Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy”, the second iteration of which was adopted in 2015.
This forum was organized back-to-back with other events such as the Policy Forum for Development, the dialogue with Private Sector representatives, the Development Education and Awareness Raising multi-stakeholder meeting, turning this week into a “Civil Society Week”. Tapping into the wealth of experience and innovative practices in different constituencies, the Forum’s purpose, as an interactive platform, was to spur a constructive dialogue and gather feedback on best practices in providing support in a complex and evolving context in order to help the EU institutions develop the operational responses to challenges in the field.
Different topics of CSO’s enabling environment were discussed and BCSDN representative Ilina Nesik participated on several of them. Among the panels (full program available here), “Measuring the Enabling Environment: Synergies and Challenges” looked into the growing interest in civil society involvement in public governance and the decreasing space for CSOs in an increasing number of countries. The international community has agreed to develop indicators that measure the enabling environment for civil society, among the examples presented: the Global Monitoring Framework to track implementation and progress on commitments and agreed actions on the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness and other civil society monitoring tools. Katerina Hadzi-Miceva Evans from ECNL also presented our efforts to ensure the environment through the Monitoring Matrix on Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development in the Western Balkans and Turkey. This session explored the potential for synergies between the various existing processes and reflected on additional or complementary best practices.
More information on the CSO forum is available here.