Helvetas Symposium 2023

Hybrid event: Berne, Switzerland and online
31 october 2023, 2:00 - 5.30 Pm CET, followed by a Networking happy hour

Reclaiming Civic Space

Authoritarianism is on the rise globally. Civic space is shrinking, and social movements and local civil society organizations are under pressure in many countries. To counter these tendencies and maintain the role of civil society as a driver for change, INGOs and donors must revisit the concept of cooperation, and question power structures and funding relationships in existing partnerships.

At the symposium, we will facilitate a dynamic discussion about:

  • New and innovative practices for protecting and reclaiming space for rights-based civic action amidst global democratic backslides
  • Emerging alternative approaches to empowering an interconnected local-to-global civil society and promoting collective action for social justice
  • The enablers and restraints in international development cooperation for locally led civil society
  • How partnerships between INGO/donors and civil society organizations in the Global South need to be redefined
  • Innovative funding models that allow local actors and NGOs to define and follow their own agenda for change, while furthering civic rights
  • Best practice models and tools for initiating and supporting change


14:00   Welcome to Helvetas Symposium “Reclaiming Civic Space»

14:10   Introduction

14:20   Keynote speech

  • Rajagopal P.V., Ekta Parishad, President

14:35   Reclaiming civic space from the perspective of government organizations

14:45   Panel discussion with international activists

  • Maja Stojanovic, Executive Director of the Civic Initiatives Organization in Serbia
  • Stephenson Meus, Director of the Executive Committee at Kouraj pou Defann Dwa Moun in Haïti
  • Fumba Chama, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts in Zambia, known as Pilato, musician and activist

15:45   Break

16:15   Ukrainian-designed social e-game "Reclaiming Civic Space" played in small groups

17:00   The view of foundations

  • Otto Saki, Ford Foundation, Program Officer, Civic Engagement and Government International

17:15   Closing

17:35   Networking happy hour

20:00   End


This is a free event, please register now!

Please note that the event will be recorded and broadcast live. The recording or parts of it may be used by Helvetas for communication and promotional purposes, editorial contributions and media coverage. By submitting the registration form, you confirm that you have been informed of this and that you agree.

Information for participants can be downloaded here

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