Published By UNNGOF |  November 6, 2015

The Uganda National NGO Forum participated in the first Stockholm Civil Society Week, organized by SIDA, the Swedish development agency, convening Swedish and international CSOs, donors and government representatives. The event took place in parallel to the meeting of the International Donor Group, a network of donors to civil society organizations, where the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) represents the World Bank. The event attracted hundreds of guests from CSOs, governments, academia and the private sector. Panelists included GPSA partner, Richard Ssewakiryanga (UNNGOF), GPSA Roster of Experts Collaborator Alan Fowler (ISS Erasmus University), Kristina Henschen, Concord Sweden) and Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Freedom of Association.

Civil society plays a vital role in development; in enabling people to claim their rights, in promoting rights-based approaches, in shaping policies and in the provision of services. However we experience a worrying trend towards shrinking space and resources for civil society, globally. In 2014, there were serious threats to civic freedoms in at least 96 countries around the world. Many civil society organizations (CSOs) have faced increased control and restrictions in relation to financial support as well as a growing tide of administrative requirements on the funding provided. At the same time as CSOs are under pressure, new civil society actors and protests emerge. New forms of organization have taken shape, and new partnerships are developed. Some are positive for democracy and inclusive, sustainable development – others are not.

The meeting focused on understanding these changes and how to react to them; how to reverse the trend of shrinking space, and how can we provide effective and efficient support to changing civil societies. Stockholm Civil Society Week 2015 contained a series of events aimed at improving understanding of and support to civil society.

In brief, Stockholm Civil Society Week 2015 was an opportunity for practitioners and scholars to learn from other and join forces in support of civil society.