Kyiv, 29 November – Some 1,400 civil society organisations and 2,186 activists from all regions of Ukraine shared the best and most innovative ways to bring about reform and change their local communities for the better at the seventh Civil Society Development Forum in Kyiv on November 2018. The event was organised by the national CSO Isar Ednannia. The UNDP co-funded and co-organised the Forum for the sixth year in a row.
‘My first message to civil society is this: keep setting ambitious goals and high standards to drive the reform agenda. Use your amazing expertise and the great trust people have in you to empower youth and help them believe they can make real change. Stay united and co-create policies with the government, mainstreaming human rights, dignity and tolerance. And finally, in order for civil society to thrive and promote a more inclusive, equal and sustainable society, innovative approaches are essential’, said Osnat Lubrani, the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, in her welcome speech.
Participants discussed new tools and techniques, shared best practices and lessons learned in the field of organisational development and analysed the new challenges faced by Ukrainian CSOs.
One of the most pressing challenges for civil society in Ukraine is financial sustainability. ‘CSOs must strive to be financially independent and diversify their funding. To this end, we encourage Ukrainian civil society organisations to deliver paid services to citizens, authorities and businesses. What kind of services could those be? Legal aid, project management, analytics’, said Serhiy Averkov, the head of the Voznesensk-based Agency for Economic Development, which belongs to the CSO-hubs network of Ukraine.
UNDP supports the CSO-hubs Network, which brings together 15 organisations that help less experienced agencies in their regions grow and push for reforms at the local level.
‘Conflict-related crimes must be documented and investigated’, said Oleksandra Romantsova from the Justice for Peace in Donbas Coalition, which unites 17 NGOs. “We call on the Ukrainian government to ratify the Rome statute, which will help bring human rights violations to the attention of the international community. We really appreciate UNDP’s support for our efforts’, she said.
48% of young people believe they have no impact on the country’s development. At the same time, 30% are ready to take part in the life of the community. Small investments in youth that produced fundamental changes were also presented at the Forum.
‘Our youth initiative group in Berezan in Kyiv Oblast managed to reach out to locals and organised the cleaning of the lake. More than a hundred residents joined in – for some of them, this was the first civic engagement in their lives’, said 16-year old Mark Hryhoryev from The New Wave the Youth Bank Initiative ‘The New Wave’, a joint initiative of Isar Ednannia, the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, the Youth Worker Programme and UNDP.
Specialised online courses are innovative instruments that could help boost civic engagement and have a significant impact on behaviour. Representatives of the well-known Ukrainian online-education platforms Prometheus and EdEra and representatives of the Chesno Civic Movement explained how online tools could help tackle such issues as corruption and conflicts of interest.
‘Conflict of interest is a complicated and tricky topic. We have two online courses where we explain the theory. After completing the course, the students can apply this knowledge right away in real-life situations’, said Victoria Prymachenko from Prometheus. Online courses developed with UNDP’s support and funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs are already being used in Ukrainian schools, including an anti-corruption lesson launched a year ago.
The Civil Society Capacity Development Forum is a unique national platform for discussion of key standards and practices related to the development of civil society organisations. Its purpose is to promote capacity development culture among Ukrainian CSOs. The first Forum took place in 2012, when 200 participants attended; now, more than 2,000 take part.