Citizens and civil society organizations worldwide have the desire to work with their governments to improve governance and the provision of public services. Yet too often they lack the means to do so – the necessary “safe space” for constructively engaging with government in a productive dialogue.
Creating space for citizen involvement in public decision making is a primary challenge for proponents of the good governance agenda. To this end, the World Bank Institute
, and the Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability (ANSA) in Africa
, East Asia & Pacific
, South Asia, and ANSA-Global joined forces to hold a two-day workshop on “Strengthening State-Civil Society Engagement in the Governance Agenda: Toward a Common Vision.” The workshop was held on October 1-2 at GTZ headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, and included 35 representatives of donor agencies, foundations, civil society organizations, and academia.
The workshop framed the issues at hand in an action-oriented way – focusing on the gaps in support and requisite capacities – to emerge with an enhanced understanding of the current state of play and a shared vision for filling these gaps. Participants spent much of their time in small brainstorming groups, examining ways to revitalize the overall governance agenda within their respective institutions and in seeking innovative and concrete steps for collectively moving forward.
Sanjay Pradhan, Vice President of WBI, emphasized the great diversity of international experience in strengthening state capacity and accountability and underscored the catalytic role that multi-stakeholder coalitions for reform play in bringing about governance reform. Ed Campos of WBI’s new Governance
practice, identified four overriding needs for governance reform:
- Anchor reforms in the context of processes that build trust and ownership
- Be problem-driven and results-based
- Carefully analyze the political context to identify relevant stakeholders
- Integrate strategic communication into all aspects of program implementation
Gopa Thampi, the Director of ANSA-Global, reiterated the need for practitioner’s networks in advancing the social accountability agenda, building capacity, and forging new pathways for constructive state-civil society engagement.
The workshop concluded with participants agreeing to create an informal network, or community of practice, to work collaboratively on the identified priority issues in the future. The goal is to build the capacity of both citizens and governments to work jointly for governance reforms that will improve the livelihoods of citizens around the world.
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Websites for ANSA-South Asia and ANSA-Global are forthcoming.