A civil society that learns and grows

Nov 21, 2017

Photo credit: Andrey Krepkikh / UNDP in Ukraine

Fifty-eight percent of Ukrainians believe that participation in civil society organizations is an effective tool for protecting their rights and defending interests. This was revealed by a study on civic literacy. And civil society in Ukraine plays indeed a central role in driving reforms, influencing legislation, cooperating with government and local authorities.  “Without civil society, change will just not happen” said Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative at the 6th Civil Society Development Forum held in Kyiv on November 16-17, 2017.

Neal Walker emphasized that the United Nations stands ready to provide support to Ukrainian civil society. One of the priorities of the United Nations Development Program in particular is to keep strengthening civil society at subnational level and encourage it to establish partnerships with local authorities to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

During the 2-day Forum, UNDP held debates and thematic master-classes. Opportunities to influence decision-making in Ukraine were discussed by human rights activists, civil society experts, representatives of the Government and Presidential Administration at the UNDP-facilitated session on "Freedom of Civil Society: A Step Forward or Backwards".

At the master-class “Demystifying organisational development” participants learnt how to let a civil society organisation grow directly from the experience of Charity foundation "Centre for Civic Initiatives", NGO "MАРТ", Centre for Women’s Perspectives and the Charity Foundation of Kherson city community "Zakhyst". These organisations are among nine CSOs hubs, supported earlier by UNDP, which in 2017 alone provided consultations on various issues of civic engagement into local decision-making to 11000 citizens, and 1750 local civil society organisations.

Dr Damian Hatton, of the UK-based consultancy firm “InFocus’’, unfolded the 7 steps to effectively measure social impact of social changes for individuals, communities and society. Social change relates to the positive changes resulting from activities run by non-profit and other organisations addressing social issues. The 7-step approach includes: preparation; deciding where to focus; developing indicators; planning your data collection; developing data collection tools; collecting and managing your data; and finally using your data.

The Civil Society Development Forum is a unique national platform for discussion of key standards and practices for civil society organizational development. It promotes a capacity development culture among Ukrainian CSOs. The first Forum took place in 2012, and by 2017 it welcomed more than 1,700 participants.

The 2017 Forum’s key theme was “Practices of Freedom”. The focus was on strengthening the capabilities of civil society and charity organizations to build communities of responsible and active citizens, which will affect positive change in Ukraine.

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