Reporting Back: Global Forum 2015: Shaping Civic Space

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The Global Forum 2015 a global event focusing on the legal space for civil society, bringing together over 200 of the world’s leading minds in civil society, government, multilateral institutions, and the donor community opened in Stockholm, Sweden on 10th May 2015 with two surprising video messages from President Barak Obama of the United States and UN- Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon.

“Strong successful countries need strong civil societies” said President Obama in his welcome address.

“Our goal is to build resilient CSOs” explained the UN Secretary General in his speech.

Every half-decade, the International Center for Not-for-Profit (ICNL) convenes its Global Forum, a one-of-a-kind platform bringing together leading thinkers with the aim of assessing where civil society stands – and how to make it stand taller.

The Nigeria Network of NGOs Executive Director, Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi, participated at this year’s event as a Global Forum 2015 Fellow.

Speaking about his experience, Oyebisi noted ‘’the event provided me with the opportunity of learning first hand from colleagues in over 80 countries what it means to work as a civil society actor in different parts of the world’’ At a time when civil society’s existence is threatened, ‘’the Global Forum 2015 allowed participants to build solidarity and to provide solutions to the challenges facing civil society today’’.

Leading a session as a panellist on the topic ‘’Civil Society Freedoms and the Post-2015 Agenda’’, Oyebisi along other panellists argued that an “enabling environment” for the sector is pivotal to all aspects of development, and should therefore be explicitly included in the Post-2015 agenda.

Participating at the Sub-Saharan African Regional Meeting during the Forum, the over 14 countries in attendance shared experience on the enabling environment for CSOs in Africa, opportunities for joint solidarity including ongoing initiatives on protecting civic space across the region.

Over the course of 3 days, from May 10 to 12th 2015, several key themes relevant to the 3rd sector were discussed, ranging from arguments and strategies CSOs can use to defeat undue restrictions, access to resources, freedom to communicate and connect through to peaceful protest, civic space and Development including how civil society can claim its place as a legitimate – indeed, essential – element in governance and rights for all.

‘’The experience gained and lessons learnt at the Global Forum 2015 will continue to be useful in our work on protecting civic space in Nigeria especially in the areas of evolving a conducive and enabling environment for Nigerian NGOs to thrive’’ concluded Oyebisi.

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Article by Seyi Oyebisi

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