Civil Society and Its Environment: Driving Sustainable Development


For decades, the great promise made in 1945 could not be fulfilled in its entirety. Even today, all the aims of the UN’s founders have not been fully met. The contemporary world is in the midst of one of the most profound, all-encompassing periods of transformation even to occur in peacetime. We don’t have a clear picture of what it will look like when the dust finally settles.

Civil Society works to strengthen citizen action and civil society throughout the world, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizen’s freedom of association are challenged. The Civicus State Report has provided the following key findings on the status of civil society today:

– Optimism is down: the belief in the power of civil society as a whole is falling greatly since the Arab Spring of last year;

– Restrictions: new restrictions have hindered the organization of civil society, such as the introduction of new laws in countries that penalize protest and making civil society more bureaucratic. It has limited the voice of civil society and stops the people from exercising their rights. Activism has become a dirty word;

– Resources: in a polarized setting, what does it mean for civil society to go to its government for benefits? Civil Society must have access to multiple resources including within their own countries;

– Public Trust: There needs to exist public trust in the political and social institutions. We must build sustainable civil participation, even after the riots and protest die out.

This panel’s discussion comes at a critical time for global negotiations on the post-2015 development framework, and will explore and sharpen the contribution to sustainable development of an enabling environment for civil society.

By: Bethelehem Baissa

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