Representatives from government, international development institutions, donor agencies, sectoral groups, and civil society organizations gather in Manila to talk about efforts, including obstacles and challenges, in promoting CSO enabling environment in Asia Pacific.

The policies and practices of governments, media, donors, and other actors affect and shape the capacities for CSOs to engage in development. The forum provided an opportunity for a multi-stakeholder discussion on enabling environment for CSOs, focusing on the varying roles and contributions of different development actors such as donors, national governments, media and CSOs. Eni Lestari of the International Migrants Alliance explained how enabling environment for migrants is not very conducive as migration is designed to result in unfavorable conditions for migrants, and their participation as stakeholders is hindered either through social exclusion in host countries or the passivity of their own government. Representing the feminist group, Priti Darooka of Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, stated that women’s empowerment and full and equal participation in all spheres are fundamental for the achievement of social and economic justice, substantive democracy and peace for all.

Meanwhile, Philippine journalist Danny Arao, media representative to the meeting, pointed out the importance for civil society to step up efforts in effectively communicating its messages to the general public, by taking advantage of media interviews, social media, among others. Beyond legal regulatory frameworks, CSO enabling environment is also affected by other social institutions such as the media by means of its ability to shape public opinion and attitude towards CSOs in general.

One key learning from the forum is the recognition that progress in CSO enabling environment depends in large measure on the extent in which other development actors live up to their commitments and responsibilities.

Before the multi-stakeholder forum, a showcasing of civil society efforts in promoting CSO development effectiveness was held during the morning session, where civil society representatives from Nepal, Mongolia, and Bangladesh presented on CSO efforts towards strengthening development cooperation monitoring in their countries. Meanwhile, CSOs from Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Cambodia, and Tonga discussed on CSO efforts towards strengthening CSO accountability mechanisms. The presenters shared the experiences of their organizations on how they demonstrate accountability to their constituents and the challenges they face while doing so.

The one-day activity was organized by the Reality of Aid Network – Asia Pacific and the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Development Effectiveness Facility (AP-DEF), last March 25, 2015, in New World Hotel, Makati City, Philippines.

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