What part should civil society play in protecting the planet? How have recent political crises put the environment at risk? How can civil society hold government institutions accountable to alleviate the resource curse? These are the kinds of questions that environmental protection and democracy and governance experts will tackle at the International Civil Society Week (ICSW), which takes place December 4 to 8 in Suva, Fiji. Since 1995, ICSW has brought together diverse audiences from all over the world to discuss civil society’s role at the intersection of politics, engagement, and democracy. At ICSW 2017, the planet and its biodiversity is at the forefront of the conversation, and Chemonics is proud to participate with two presentations featuring experts from Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
On December 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. local time, representatives and local partners from the Philippines Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Economic Resilience (B+WISER) project and the Build Indonesia to Take Care of Nature for Sustainability (BIJAK) project will lead an interactive panel on empowering communities and indigenous peoples as stewards of sustainable conservation efforts. This workshop will provide two examples of local organizations working with USAID to position vulnerable populations as well-equipped advocates of their environments. A key part of the workshop will be demonstrating how these tools and approaches can be replicated and applied to different contexts. During the workshop, Center for Conservation Innovations President Aldrin Mallari, B+WISER Technical Field Associate Justin Briones, and Kitanglad Guard Volunteers Datu (Chief) Malunay Teofilo Sabaon will share insights from B+WISER. They will be joined by BIJAK Operations Director Paul Heller and Partnership for Governance Reform Program Manager Hasbi Berliani.
Later on December 6, from 2 to 5 p.m. local time, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a grantee of USAID/Nigeria’s Strengthening Advocacy for Civic Engagement (SACE) project, joins the SACE team to present on their intervention to use citizen report cards in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. These report cards help improve transparency and accountability among government institutions in their use of public project and natural resource proceeds. Presenters — ANEEJ Deputy Director Leo Atakpu and SACE Deputy Chief of Party Lydia Odeh — will share lessons learned and successes in applying this tool in the Niger Delta, as well as their plans for implementing a new transparency index tool. Since January 2014, the SACE project has focused on developing local capacity in Nigeria so that citizens can play a more active role in democratic reform processes.
“Achieving policy change in complex contexts on governance can be a daunting challenge. Learning from and sharing approaches that work is critical to improving transparency, accountability, and good governance in developing country settings,” Ms. Odeh says. “Working with policy clusters such as that led by ANEEJ, the SACE project has recorded appreciable success in supporting policy reform. We look forward to sharing our approach and tools at ICSW 2017, especially the Strategy Matrix and Outcome Harvester, our network analysis tool, and innovative applications of technology. Showcasing our experience will help us receive feedback that can improve the ways civil society organizations engage and bring about lasting reform.”