Civil society organizations and the SDG: Effective participation?

The Task Team on Civil Society Organization (CSO) Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment yesterday presented its report on the study it commissioned into 'What factors in a country’s environment help or hinder effective CSO participation in SDG-related processes and how is this practically felt/experienced?'

Carried out by the International Institute of Social Studies, the study focused on identifying factors in a country’s environment that help and hinder CSO participation in Sustainable Development Goal-related processes.

Under the leadership of the principle researchers Dr Kees Biekart and Professor Alan Fowler, the report synthesizes evidence from 21 case studies in six countries, selected because of differences in their freedom or ‘space’ available for CSOs. The countries are: Costa Rica, Ghana, Hungary, Lao PDR, Nepal and Tanzania.

'Activating civic space for sustainable development: Helping and hidering factors for effective CSO participation in the SDGs'

Key messages

The main messages of the report are:

  • CSOs are not sufficiently engaged in formal SDG processes or consultations at the country level.
  • Implementation of the SDGs does not necessarily lead to an ‘opening’ of civic space.
  • Governments use a variety of mechanisms to constrain civic space, directly defying the spirit of SDG 16.10.
  • Open civic spaces can undermine solidarity between CSOs, as competition for their positioning towards SDG activities increases.
  • The SDGs have not brought about any significant change in the way donors (official aid system) function towards CSOs.
More information

About the Task Team

Task Team CSO works together to advance effective CSO participation in development processes. The Task Team CSO’s 30 participants come from the official donor, partner country and CSO communities.