Civil society organisations are both influential audiences and partners of the EBRD in the countries where it invests. They provide a valuable contribution to the development of our policies, strategies and the implementation of investment projects, particularly on complex, large scale operations.
Civil society plays a key role in promoting public dialogue about decisions that affect the lives of local people and environments, as well as holding governments and policymakers publicly accountable. Our open communication with civil society enhances our effectiveness and impact wherever we work.
For the EBRD’s purposes, civil society includes non-governmental organisations (NGOs), policy and research think tanks, social movements, labour unions, community-based organisations, women’s groups, business development organisations and other socio-economic and labour-market actors, including individual activists.
Our ongoing dialogue with civil society focuses on human rights and democracy, environmental and social issues, economic inclusion and gender, transparency, good governance and business development issues related to EBRD’s work and our countries of operations.
We recognise that civil society stakeholders can highlight significant issues through their local knowledge, offer valuable technical expertise and insights to supplement available data, suggest innovative approaches to local problems, and provide important perspectives regarding the EBRD’s projects, policies and policy dialogue initiatives.
We therefore encourage CSO stakeholders to participate in interactions ranging from consultations on draft policies and strategies that are under review, to discussions on local Bank-financed projects. We also go beyond dialogue and consultations into working in close cooperation and partnership with CSOs in select areas where we can help enhance their skills and capacity and harness civil society potential to promote key strategic priorities, such as good governance, sustainable energy and social and economic inclusion.
The EBRD's engagement with CSOs is designed to support the Bank's Article 1 mandate of fostering transition towards market economies in countries that respect the principles of multiparty democracy and pluralism.
Also, the Bank is committed to promote environmentally sound and sustainable development through the implementation of the EBRD's Environmental and Social Policy (ESP).
As a public institution, the EBRD is also committed to transparency and good governance as stipulated in its Public Information Policy (PIP). The EBRD provides relevant information and engages in a dialogue with civil society organisations in order to better respond to public expectations and improve public knowledge regarding our projects, strategies and policies.
Furthermore, through the Civil Society Capacity Enhancement Framework, the Bank also builds skills and knowledge of local civil society groups and partnerships with CSOs to promote jointly strategic priorities that EBRD is fostering through its investments and policy dialogue activities.
This extensive interaction between the EBRD and CSOs has made a significant contribution to improving the quality, effectiveness and sustainability of our activities across our regions.
Since the EBRD was established in 1991 to foster open and democratic market economies from central Europe to central Asia, it has set up and maintained an ongoing and constructive dialogue with civil society organisations (CSOs) across our regions.
In the EBRD's early years, our interaction with CSOs was largely limited to responding to written comments by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Over the years, we have started proactively consulting with a variety of civil society stakeholders, including NGOs, women's groups, faith-based organisations, think-tanks, business development associations and academic institutions.
Our President, Board Directors, senior management, bankers, economists, political counsellors, environmental, social and civil society experts regularly meet with affected local communities and civil society groups in relation to ongoing EBRD-financed projects, our major policies and strategies for individual countries, specific investment sectors and policy dialogue initiatives.
In 2000, the Civil Society Programme was founded as part of the EBRD’s Annual Meetings in order to provide a discussion forum for CSOs to directly engage with EBRD representatives on specific issues related to our activities.
The creation in 2001 of a dedicated Civil Society Engagement (CSE) Unit, which is primarily responsible for fostering relations between civil society and the EBRD, indicates the strengthening of this commitment and engagement with a broader range of CSOs.
In 2013, the CSE Unit established an innovative grant-based programme entitled Civil Society Capacity Enhancement Framework that allows us to engage more proactively and provide support to a wide range of local civil society groups and organisations in the countries where we work.