Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have long proven their significance in pushing for a rights-based, people-centered sustainable development. They have demonstrated and reaffirmed continuing dedication to their own effectiveness as development actors or partners and continuing engagement with governments and institutions to uphold long-standing commitments on effective aid and development cooperation.


However, CSOs still face challenges in pursuing their work with the global trend of shrinking civic spaces, especially in the midst of responding to COVID-19. Despite their important role as frontliners, CSOs and other peoples’ organizations are being threatened and attacked as they organized relief operations, circulated solidarity statements and sign-ons, and conducted peaceful assemblies to assert rights-based policies in addressing the pandemic, among others.

An enabling environment for CSOs to be able to fully participate in dialogues or meetings, develop their capacities further, and exercise their fundamental rights, is necessary in achieving a “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific”.

Therefore, Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific (RoA-AP), CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – Asia (CPDE Asia), and the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) will hold the side event, “Civil Society at the Frontlines: How can SDG 17 support an enabling environment for CSOs’ recovery and resiliency?” during the UNESCAP Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) 2021 to unpack the following discussion points:

  1. What have been the attacks or threats to CSOs amid national pandemic responses and how is the lack of an enabling environment facilitating or aggravating such attacks?
  2. Why is SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals relevant in COVID-19 pandemic recovery and resiliency? What is the role of CSOs in fulfilling SDG 17? How will SDG 17 support an enabling environment for CSOs, especially in developing countries where authoritarian regimes erode democratic practices and spaces?
  3. How did CSOs demonstrate sustainability and resiliency amid the pandemic? What are the prospects for CSO sustainability and resiliency moving forward?

This side event will feature 4 speakers (2 representatives from the sectors, 1 representative from a regional CSO, and 1 representative from a multilateral institution). Each speaker will be given a 7-10-minute intervention followed by a facilitated discussion. The organizers will synthesize the event and harvest key policy recommendations and possible collaboration points in terms of campaign work and advocacy strategy. Final program to follow.

“Civil Society at the Frontlines” will happen on March 23, 2021, Tuesday at 16:15 – 17:45 Bangkok time, and is OPEN TO ALL. Register to receive details of the Zoom link.


The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development is an annual and inclusive intergovernmental forum and a regional platform for supporting countries, in particular those with special needs, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while serving as a regional preparatory meeting to the high-level political forum.



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