The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2023 Annual Meeting
A long anticipated 2023 Civil Society Programme took place in a hybrid format on 16-18 May 2023, as part of the EBRD’s Annual Meeting and Business Forum in the vibrant city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The Programme attracted 125 civil society representatives from 32 countries.
The Programme consisted of two dedicated sessions between civil society representatives and the Board of Directors and the EBRD President, an open panel focusing on the crucial role that civil society plays in building resilient and prosperous societies in Central Asia, and a special session on the review of the EBRD’s Environmental and Social Policy and Access to Information Policy. This session looked at the consultation process for the strategies and was an opportunity for CSO participants to provide early input and suggestions to EBRD management about the planned revisions.
This year, the Programme also included an introductory panel presenting the EBRD’s new strategic approach to civil society engagement for the next five years. During the CSO Programme, we moreover launched the first EBRD Pilot CSO Steering Committee, which aims to provide an additional platform for collaboration and engagement between civil society and the Bank, enabling further work towards common objectives.
Similarly, to 2022, the Programme featured a session on the Bank’s Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM), and session on the Bank’s independent Evaluation Department.
During the meetings with the Board and the EBRD President, civil society representatives had the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, and present issues of concern and recommendations on key strategic themes and operations of the Bank. The Board, as well as the President recognised the importance of working together with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to achieve greater impact.
The 2023 Civil Society Programme also featured a multi-stakeholder panel focused on the crucial role that civil society plays in building resilient and prosperous societies in Central Asia. This panel gathered civil society representatives, private sector, and government experts to discuss ideas, generate new and innovative proposals and recommendations on how to build and promote further civil society resilience in the region. Panellists from the EBRD, the UNODC, the Human Rights Movement, the Socio-Ecological Fund, and the Uzbek Delivery Unit under the Agency for Strategic Reforms had a very insightful discussion focusing on the following key points:
Several challenges remain in the region. Climate change, conflicts in the region, recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, corruption and governance challenges in general are affecting various parts of Central Asia. It is important that civil society partners are engaged in building up good governance practices, as well as in creating anticorruption measures. Corruption is a major issue; therefore, we need to ensure that recourses are going towards legislative reforms, that the voices of people and vulnerable groups are heard in the decision-making process.
Women have a lot to contribute to the economy and society. Women really have a huge role to play in building up resilient countries. They have ingenuity and can understand the needs in a society. We need legal environments that enable women to enter the workforce, allow them to work within different sectors and provide them with access to the rights skills.
Human rights-based approach in development policies. This should not be just about formal reporting by governments, but it is about introducing the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) principals in the human rights-based approach in development. This way everyone will know what has been done, where the funding is going and where we can get information about what the results and outcomes of development policies and projects. This information should also be common knowledge, easily accessible to all people, and customisable in local context in each country.
There is also a need to experiment. We know the vital role civic space has in promoting and protecting our values, including bringing democracy to life, advocating for public interest, and facilitating citizen participation. We need to have citizens as part of the participatory monitoring mechanisms to also enhance local innovation and develop solutions on the ground.
The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2022 Annual Meeting
A long anticipated 2022 Civil Society Programme took place in a hybrid format on 10-12 May 2022, as part of the EBRD’s Annual Meeting and Business Forum in the vibrant city of Marrakech, Morocco. The Programme attracted around 200 civil society representatives.
The Programme consisted of two dedicated sessions between civil society representatives and the Board of Directors and the EBRD President, an open panel focusing on how partnerships between the governments, the private sector and civil society can foster a more inclusive and peaceful future, and a civil society led open panel focusing on civil society in sustainable energy transitions. Similarly to 2021, the Programme featured a session on the Bank’s Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM). This year, the programme also included a session on the Bank’s independent Evaluation Department.
During the meetings with the Board and the EBRD President, civil society representatives had the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, and present issues of concern and recommendations on key strategic themes and operations of the Bank. The Board, as well as the EBRD President recognised the importance of working together with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to achieve greater impact.
The 2022 Civil Society Programme featured a multi-stakeholder panel focused on building partnerships between civil society, government, and the private sector. The panel looked into how partnerships, coordination and alignment between entities can foster new opportunities for growth and impact. Panellists from MasterCard, Disasters Emergency Committee, Oxfam, and Sawiris Foundation, had a very insightful discussion focusing on the following key points:
• Civil society and grass roots organisations are crucial. They not only offer both practical and strategic opinions that are lifesaving and context specific, but also provide an accountability platform.
• Cooperation and collaboration between all parties involved is essential. No actor can operate in isolation. Partners must come together with aligned values and vision to ensure long-term, sustainable impact.
• Donors need to deploy more flexible and unrestricted funding to CSOs in order to help them build capacity and increase their resilience.
This year’s programme also featured a CSO panel led by E3G, focusing on civil society in sustainable energy transitions. The panel looked into the role of civil society and MDBs in a context of energy transition. Panellists from E3G, the EBRD, the Moroccan Alliance for Climate and Sustainable Development, High Atlas foundation and climate experts had a thought provoking discussion focusing on:
• How to accelerate just and sustainable energy transition and what is needed to achieve it.
• The current crisis must be an opportunity and a chance for laying the foundations for the design of public policies based on the articulation and convergence between development, adaptation, resilience, decarbonisation, and sustainable financing.
• Civil society is uniquely positioned to integrate renewable energy systems within broader development processes and experiences.
We hope you were able to join us for this successful EBRD’s first Annual Meeting in hybrid format and the first held on the African Continent.
Stay tuned for our next update.
The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2021 Annual Meeting
The 2021 Civil Society Programme took place virtually on 28-29 June 2021, as part of the EBRD’s Annual Meeting. In this 30th anniversary year, the Programme attracted a record number of over 200 civil society representatives.
The Programme consisted of two dedicated sessions between civil society representatives and the Board of Directors and the EBRD President, an open panel focusing on private sector partnerships and a special session on the first year of implementing the Bank’s Project Accountability Policy (IPAM).
During the meetings with the Board and the EBRD President, civil society representatives had the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, and present issues of concern and recommendations on key strategic themes and operations of the Bank. The meeting with President Odile Renaud-Basso was particularly important, as it was the first time that civil society representatives met with her in the Annual Meeting format. The Board as well as the EBRD President recognised the importance of working together with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to achieve greater impact.
The 2021 Civil Society Programme also featured a multi-stakeholder panel focused on building resilience through private sector partnerships. The panel looked into how deeper coordination and alignment between multiple players could foster new opportunities for growth and deliver a bigger impact in the civic space on the ground. Panellists from JP Morgan Chase Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company and Save the Children as well as the EBRD had a very insightful discussion focusing on the following key points:
The response to Covid-19 has brought with it a noticeable shift towards an increased role of the state in managing economic affairs and supporting growth and employment. Civil society organisations also have a crucial role to play, filling in at the local level where the state and the market are unable to support local communities with essential services, and ensuring state and private sector entities are held to high standards of transparency and good governance.
CSOs are likely to become a crucial source of accountability but also to work in partnership with the state and business to promote a sustainable, inclusive, and climate friendly future. Naturally, all the Development Financial Institutions, including EBRD, are instrumental in facilitating this CSO engagement and promoting such far reaching stakeholder participation.
Partnerships and working with others have become a central feature of the EBRD’s delivery model. We are striving to be more conscious in how we strengthen impact to create healthy and vibrant societies through collaboration, finding ways to develop and expand our partnerships to scale up impact, enhancing governance, combating climate change, addressing inequality, inclusion and digitalisation amongst many other challenges.
Lastly, the civil society programme included a special session on the EBRD’s Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM). This panel reviewed the first year of implementing IPAM through its casework, and both requesters and IPAM staff had the opportunity to share their insights, based on the experiences of three active cases, in order to foster discussion and participation from attendees.
agenda for the 2021 Civil Society Programme .
Online Meeting with Civil Society and EBRD Board of Directors at the 2020 online Annual Meeting
In response to the year’s unfortunate events and ensuing cancellation of the EBRD 2020 Annual Meeting and Business Forum, we moved all business as usual EBRD events to a virtual setting. An online meeting between Civil Society and the EBRD Board of Directors as part of the rescheduled EBRD Annual Meeting took place in October with great success.
Specific topics of interest were discussed under three main thematic areas: Participation and Stakeholder Engagement, Climate Finance, Developments in EBRD Countries of Operations.
It is of the upmost importance that we continue to engage and listen to each other in these challenging times, more than ever signifying the importance of technology to allow us to continue working together! We look forward to reconnecting in 2021!
The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2020 Annual Meeting was cancelled
The EBRD Civil Society Programme intended for May 2020, alongside the EBRD Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors 2020
was cancelled. This was due to the impact on international travel caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and in response to the stringent precautionary measures taken by governments to counteract the spread of the virus.
Thank you for your ongoing cooperation.
The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2019 Annual Meeting
Agenda for the 2019 civil society programme
CSO Participants List
The 2019 Civil Society Programme took place on the 8th and 9th May in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A record number of 184 CSO representatives attended the programme, two thirds of which were from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans.
In the spirit of this year’s Annual Meeting theme “Connecting Economies for Stronger Growth”, we tried to break the silos between civil society, business and government and put into action an integrated and inclusive programme. One of the new features was the CSO Exhibition “Connecting for Solutions”, in cooperation with the Paris Peace Forum, where CSOs displayed solutions to local and regional challenges in the areas of good governance, economic inclusion, environmental protection and climate resilience.
This year’s programme also featured the release of the Civil Society Consultation Hub; providing a platform for feedback on upcoming CSO consultations for EBRD country and sectoral strategies and institutional policies.
The 2019 Civil Society Programme featured four multi-stakeholder panels where CSOs discussed with representatives of businesses, governments, EBRD and other international organisations, the role of civil society in promoting:
impact investing to bridge the trade-off between financial returns and social and environmental impact;
just transition towards inclusive and resilient, low-carbon economies in the Western Balkans and beyond,;
equal access to employment and skills as well as entrepreneurship opportunities for women and men;
more transparent public procurement processes.
Investing for impact and financial returns: trade-off or trade-on?
This event took place at the same premises as the EBRD Business Forum and Annual Meeting with the objective being to attract participants from diverse backgrounds. This session aimed to understand whether and how large scale impact investors really do ‘good’ by doing ‘well.’ Increasingly, the ‘value’ sought by commercial investors (internal rate of return) and the ‘values’ promoted by civil society (protecting the planet and people) are aligned. Panelists explored ways in which business and civil society can work together to optimise approaches to impact investing and join forces to promote sustainable development. By the end of the discussion, having heard how investors can support development in innovative ways, the audience had largely changed their opinion to now support the view that there is not an imperative trade-off between financial returns and social, environmental and economic impact of investments.
Just transition in the Western Balkans and beyond – avoiding ‘stranded communities’ in cooperation with civil society
Composed of civil society representatives from across the Western Balkans region, the objective of the discussion was to pull together the different elements required to manage a green transition process that responds to the needs and vulnerabilities of communities while delivering climate-resilient low-carbon development, innovation, new investment, and ultimately new jobs and long-term intergenerational sustainability. Panelists explored which roles civil society and other actors should play to ensure that “stranded communities” and “stranded workers” are avoided.
As the EBRD is defining its approach to the Just Transition concept and looking into a potential pipeline of projects that would support it, the panel discussion provided food for thought for how the Bank could work more closely with CSOs to shape and implement the initiative.
Gender and economic inclusion – paving the way to equal opportunities
The session provided an update on the achievements of the EBRD’s first strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality (2016 - 2020) in terms of operations, policy engagement and institutional capacity building - as well as strategic priorities. The session also provided an overview of the implementation of the Bank’s Economic Inclusion Strategy (2017 – 2021). The panel discussion focused on best practices in leveraging the key role of the private sector for gender equality and to address key inclusion challenges. It also showcased good practice examples for how to improve opportunities to access employment and acquire skills, for women and men alike.
Public procurement open to businesses and local communities
This panel brought together a variety of civil society activists from the Western Balkans and Nordic regions with the objective to discuss how better transparency in public procurement processes plays a role in contributing to a level playing field for businesses. The panel discussed how the idea of Open Contracting engages and empowers citizens to take control of public procurement decisions and influences how government delivers public services, celebrates progress, learning, and growing of the Open Contracting community in the EBRD region. New ideas were shared alongside tools to advance Open Contracting & digital transformation of public procurement in the region and beyond, on national and municipal level.
The programme also featured a “Coffee with FAIRR” (Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return Initiative), which was open to all participants of the Annual Meeting and Business Forum, where we discussed the need for better antibiotics management with a view to prevent damage to the profitability and viability of companies, and negative impacts on complex ecosystems and conditions critical to global food security.
EBRD policy, strategy and project discussions
The Civil Society Programme also featured discussions with the EBRD President, Board Directors and EBRD teams, including senior management about the Bank’s upcoming strategy reviews and current investment projects in the sustainable infrastructure and natural resources sectors and the Bank’s approach to climate finance. The Bank launched its newly revised Good Governance Policies in the context of the Civil Society Programme. We also dedicated two sessions to promote better understanding of the EBRD’s Project Accountability Mechanism in run up to the 2019 Project Accountability Policy, which will come into effect in 2020.
During the meetings with EBRD President and Board Directors, CSOs raised key issues of concern related firstly to the Bank’s Article 1 mandate, the shrinking space for civil society and retaliation against stakeholders; secondly governance, integrity and transparency issues in the Bank’s engagement with its clients; and finally climate and energy related issues with a particular emphasis on the Western Balkans and the Caucasus.
Civil Society Programme at the EBRD 2017 Annual Meeting
Agenda for the 2017 Civil Society Programme
CSO Participants List
The 2017 Civil Society Programme (CSP) took place on 9-11 May in Nicosia, Cyprus. The Programme featured multi-stakeholder panels on the role of civil society in supporting transition resilience and in promoting Green Cities, in line with the updated EBRD transition concept. A CSO-led panel, hosted at the symbolic Home for Cooperation (H4C), also explored the topic of long-term sustainable reconciliation processes in Cyprus through the engagement of civil society. As every year, the CSP represented an opportunity for CSOs to discuss strategic issues as well as investment projects with EBRD staff, senior management, the President and Board Directors.
The Role of Cypriot Civil Society in Promoting Economic Development for Reconciliation
The first event of the CSP was organised on Tuesday 9 May by the civil society organisation NGO Support Centre, selected following a competitive call for proposals. The discussion was hosted at the Home for Cooperation in the UN Buffer in Nicosia, a unique site for civil society dialogue and peacebuilding. The panel brought together representatives from the business world, academia, civil society and journalism to discuss the role of Cypriot civil society in promoting economic development for reconciliation. The panellists presented innovative programmes that have been mounted by civil society in order to create stronger socio-economic ties between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the Island, including initiatives aimed at engaging young people by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and Civic Space. Representatives from the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry also shared their vision for a solution to the Cyprus dispute which builds on stronger economic integration between the two communities.
The Role of Civil Society in Promoting Transition Resilience
The 2017 CSP featured a panel discussion on the role of civil society in promoting transition resilience. Transition is not a linear process and there have been setbacks and reversals along the way in the EBRD region. Transition resilience refers to the stability of economic and political reforms, which is directly related to societal buy-in for reforms and local ownership of transition. Civil society, operating in the space between the public and private sectors, can play an important part in this. Through its important representation, intermediation and social service provision functions, civil society can reach out to the more vulnerable groups in society, promote democratic participation, policy accountability and good governance. The panellists looked into the link between civil society development and the sustainability of reforms in various countries, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe. They also gave their views on what civil society can do to promote transition resilience and minimise the risk of backtracking in the Bank’s countries of operations.
Civil Society and Green Cities
The final panel discussion of this year’s CSP was dedicated to the role of civil society in contributing to successful green urbanisation that helps cities, which represent a significant source of environmental impact, to maximise their potential as drivers of climate resilient growth. CSOs can promote behavioural change towards innovative green economy practices and also play a crucial advocacy role for improving municipal regulations and national legislation. Participants also discussed the Bank’s Green Cities Programme, which offers a holistic approach to city’s challenges combining a creative financial product with technical assistance, donor support as well as strategic planning. Green City Action Plans (GCAPs) are designed with CSO engagement opportunities at many stages and thus ensure that community priorities are correctly reflected and help determine the target areas of municipal infrastructure investments. The panellists concluded that the challenges cities face can only be addressed by aligning all stakeholders’ efforts in improving the quality of urban services and infrastructure, providing enabling environments for innovation and ultimately improving citizens’ quality of life.
Civil Society Programme at the 2016 Annual Meeting
In this 25th anniversary year, the Civil Society programme attracted around 100 civil society representatives from 22 countries to the EBRD HQ on 11 and 12 May.
The two-day event consisted of a series of thematic panels, sessions between civil society representatives and the Bank’s staff and senior management, as well as two dedicated sessions with the Board of Directors and EBRD President. The programme provided an opportunity for civil society participants to engage in a dialogue with the Bank about its investment projects, policies and strategies, and to participate in multi-stakeholder discussions on a wide range of issues including the role of civil society in transition, transparency in public procurement, youth, skills and economic inclusion and gender equality. The civil society sector also featured prominently in the Business Forum with a session dedicated to the civil society group National Dialogue Quartet which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 for its contribution to the democratic transition in Tunisia.
List of CSO participants
Agenda of the 2016 Civil Society Programme
Civil society fostering transition
From dialogue to closer cooperation
The 2016 edition of the Civil Society Programme strengthened the shift in the Bank’s engagement with civil society from dialogue to ever closer cooperation and partnership. The Civil Society Engagement Unit presented the preliminary results and achievements of its Civil Society Capacity Enhancement Framework launched in mid-2014 following the successful implementation of the pilot phase (June 2013-June 2014).
Approaches to inclusion
Inclusion was one of the main topics discussed at the 2016 Civil Society Programme at the EBRD Annual Meeting. Different aspects of inclusion were discussed in dedicated panels, which debated the importance of innovation and skills, the role youth can play in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the role of civil society in the promotion of gender equality at the EBRD.