Each May, we host the Civil Society Programme, which is the flagship event of the Bank’s engagement with civil society and traditionally takes place alongside the EBRD’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors and Business Forum.
Full information about the Annual Meeting
Civil Society Programme at the EBRD 2018 Annual Meeting
Agenda for the 2018 Civil Society Programme
CSO Participants list
The 2018 Civil Society Programme took place on 9 and 10 May at the Dead Sea in Jordan. The total of 84 CSO representatives attended the Programme, nearly half of them from Jordan.
This year, the Civil Society Programme featured two multi-stakeholder panels, where CSOs discussed with representatives of businesses, governments, EBRD and other international organisations the role of civil society in promoting youth inclusion and climate resilience in the SEMED region.
By, for and with youth: supporting youth inclusion through civil society engagement in SEMED
This panel was organised by the International Youth Foundation, which had been selected following a call for proposals among civil society organisations (CSOs). In recent years, globalisation, migration and growing refugee flows have put labour markets under considerable pressure. In this context, young people often face challenges such as high unemployment rates, lack of skills and access to training. The panel explored the role played by civil society organisations in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region in bridging these gaps by fostering youth entrepreneurship, access to finance, and by catalysing the creation of jobs and the development of skills.
The main barriers identified by panelists were rigid labour markets, the lack of education opportunities and access to financial services. Panelists illustrated that civil society organisations can serve as networks and connect youth, businesses and funding opportunities. Especially local CSOs can address the training and employability needs of young people and thereby contribute to building life skills and creating an environment that facilitates their access to finance and economic inclusion opportunities. Panelists presented best practices in CSO capacity enhancement with the aim of supporting young people to become agents of positive and transformational change in the economies of their communities, countries and regions.
Working with civil society to increase resilience to climate change and water scarcity
The panel brought together speakers from civil society and the private sector, green entrepreneurs and business associations from Jordan and other SEMED countries as well as EBRD representatives. The discussion focused on the role of civil society and community engagement in tackling challenges related to water scarcity and climate change, and in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. These challenges are particularly pronounced in Jordan as the world’s fourth driest country, while the whole SEMED region is affected by water scarcity. The impacts of climate change are projected to put additional strain on water resources and could increase the frequency, duration and intensity of droughts, among other adverse effects on communities and the environment.
Panelists stressed that well-designed stakeholder engagement and awareness raising work throughout project life-cycles and community involvement in water governance are needed to increase efficiency, improve community buy-in and accountability, and build up climate change resilience. Speakers presented current initiatives in the field, at grass-roots level as well as in large-scale projects. Harnessing the opportunities presented by innovative technologies can provide concrete business solutions and empower vulnerable communities at the same time. Panelists concluded that civil society, IFIs, public authorities, business need to work together across country borders in order to tackle climate change impacts.
EBRD policy, strategy and project discussions
CSO representatives also discussed the Bank’s investment projects and key institutional documents with the EBRD President, Board Directors and EBRD teams, including senior management.
During the meetings with EBRD President and Board Directors, CSOs raised key issues of concern related to democracy and pluralism in EBRD’s region, the Bank’s institutional accountability and safeguarding human rights in the investment projects financed by the EBRD.
In project discussions, CSOs and relevant teams discussed several of the Bank’s specific investments in the energy, agribusiness and municipal infrastructure sectors.
This year’s Programme also featured early CSO consultations for the upcoming reviews of several EBRD sectoral strategies and institutional policies, namely the Energy Sector Strategy, the Agribusiness Strategy as well as the Bank’s Governance Policies (the Environmental and Social Policy, the Public Information Policy and the Project Complaint Mechanism).
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
Around 100 representatives of civil society organisations, NGOs, academics and international organisations discussed the role of civil society at the 2016 EBRD Annual Meeting. Sergei Guriev, Professor at the Sciences Po Paris, explains importance of the engagements with the CSOs.
On the occasion of the Bank’s 25th anniversary, the Civil Society Programme reflected on 25 years of transition: the role of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia in a fire-side chat with OCE’s Sergei Guriev, who has been a prominent member of civil society in Russia particularly active in academia, independent media and think tanks both in the country and internationally.
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.
Board Directors meet with civil society in Belarus, Armenia and Georgia
On 12 September, EBRD Board Directors met with civil society representatives in Minsk as part of their consultation visit to Belarus. The topics covered during the meeting were: recent political developments, the CSO landscape, and freedom of expression and human rights, as well as questions around inclusive economic transition, the investment climate and engagement with the business community.
During their consultation visit to Armenia, on 24 September in Yerevan, Board Directors met with civil society representatives and discussed recent political developments, anti-corruption, media freedom and civil society development, as well as responsible mining and sustainability.
On 26 September, the EBRD Resident Office in Tbilisi, Georgia, hosted a meeting between EBRD Board Directors and Georgian CSOs. The discussion focused on transparency, inclusive growth, energy and adaptation to climate change.
EBRD President meets civil society in Uzbekistan
EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti met with CSOs in Tashkent on 7 August, a follow-up to his engagement with Uzbek CSOs in 2017 and ahead of the conclusion of the Bank’s review of its country strategy for Uzbekistan, which was adopted by the Board of Directors on 19 September. CSOs provided their feedback on the EBRD’s increased engagement in the country. Topics included the operating environment for civil society, and regulatory and judicial reform, as well as economic reform and sustainability.
Consultation on the Country Strategy for FYR Macedonia
On 24 July, the EBRD Resident Office in Skopje hosted a consultation with civil society to discuss the review of the Bank’s country strategy for FYR Macedonia. The CSOs’ main recommendations related to: compliance with environmental standards in protected areas; the promotion of a green economy, including support for green cities and energy efficiency; and better efforts to engage stakeholders and disclose information, in particular for sectors such as mining and the development of small hydropower projects through financial intermediaries. Eighteen representatives from local civil society organisations and business associations attended the event. Anca Ioana Ionescu, Head of the EBRD in Skopje, represented the Bank along with staff from the EBRD’s Country Strategy and Results Management team, the Civil Society Engagement Unit and country and regional economists. The consultation took place during the pre-drafting stage of the strategy.
Consultation with national CSOs on Tunisia Country Strategy
For the review of the Tunisia Country Strategy, a consultation meeting was held in Tunis on 13 June to gather input from national CSOs about the EBRD’s planned activities in the country and the operational priorities for the period 2018-23. Six CSOs active in civil society development, transitional justice, youth employment and environmental issues attended the meeting. Civil society participants raised concerns but also welcomed the Bank’s strengthened engagement in Tunisia. In their view, the EBRD has an important role to play in policy dialogue and in setting standards through its projects, particularly in terms of the economic and financial inclusion of youth as well as the introduction of new technology.
EBRD Board Advisers and EBRD management meet with civil society in Ukraine
On 12 June, EBRD management and Board Advisers met civil society representatives in two separate meetings in Kiev. During the meeting with management, preliminary priorities for the forthcoming country strategy period were presented. The topics covered during the meeting with Board Advisors were broader; they included the impact of economic reforms on the private sector, successes and areas for improvement in the fight against corruption, and sustainability challenges in energy and agribusiness sectors. Representatives of 11 CSOs took part in the meetings.
Civil Society Forum on climate investment
On 20 June in Kiev, the EBRD facilitated a civil society forum on climate investment in the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) region. The event was an opportunity for dialogue on best practices and experience, to further engage civil society stakeholders in climate investment projects and initiatives and support action on climate change mitigation and adaptation at global, regional, national and local levels. The forum was organised jointly with the Climate Investment Funds, the Climate Action Network EECCA and the Stakeholder Advisory Network on Climate Finance.
International Accountability Mechanisms workshop
The Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) of five international financial institutions (IFIs) –the EBRD, European Investment Bank, World Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Green Climate Fund – organised a workshop in Ulaanbaatar on 12-13 March, supported by CEE Bankwatch Network and Oyu Tolgoi Watch. Fifty CSO representatives from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated. They learned how people who are affected by IFI-funded projects can use IAMs to raise environmental and social concerns and address grievances, what they can complain about, how to file a complaint and what the results might be. The workshop also served as a platform to exchange views on public and private development projects in Central Asia, ranging from a clean environment and safe drinking water to property rights and land use.
Board Directors meet with civil society in Uzbekistan
On 20 March, EBRD Board Directors met with civil society representatives in Tashkent as part of their consultation visit to Uzbekistan. The topics covered during the meeting included the development of civil society, judicial and regulatory reform, as well as economic inclusion and challenges in sustainability.
Consultation with local and international CSOs on Uzbekistan Country Strategy
In the context of greater engagement in Uzbekistan since last year, the Bank is currently reviewing its Uzbekistan Country Strategy. On 22 February a consultation meeting was held in Tashkent to gather input from local CSOs about the EBRD’s planned activities in the country and the operational priorities envisaged for the forthcoming strategy period (2018-23). The meeting was attended by 10 CSOs active in the areas of civil society development, legal advocacy, economic policy research, socio-economic development and environmental issues. In addition, on 9 March, the Bank hosted a consultation meeting with international CSOs in its London Headquarters. Participants shared their concerns the recent setting for political and economic reform in the country as well as challenges and opportunities for CSO activities.
Global Sustainable Development Goals on road safety
On 11 December the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST), the Global New Car Assessment Programme and the Towards Zero Foundation, in association with the EBRD, organised a high level conference on road safety and the role that multilateral development banks play in addressing it. One of the panels featured a technical cooperation project started in April 2017 under the Civil Society Enhancement Framework and funded by the EBRD shareholders, to understand and impact attitudes and other constraints that might affect seat belt wearing rates and eco-driving behaviour in Tajikistan. The public campaign was launched on 2 November on the streets of Dushanbe and seminars were also organised with fleet managers, policy makers and CSOs to teach essential eco-driving skills.
Consultation with civil society on Poland Country Strategy
On 14 November, the EBRD Resident Office in Warsaw hosted a consultation with civil society representatives to discuss the Bank’s forthcoming Country Strategy for Poland, which is currently in a drafting stage. Representatives from national CSOs, including the Batory Foundation, Wise Europa, Business Center Club and Lewiatan Confederation attended the roundtable. Participants discussed the key operational priorities of the forthcoming Strategy period. Green economy transition, economic competitiveness and productivity, as well as capital market development were also topics of discussion.
Conclusion of the public consultation on the Bank’s new Mining Strategy
Following an early consultation meeting held in London in July 2017, the Bank conducted consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society, mining companies, governments and academia, and organised a series of public consultation meetings in Ulaanbaatar, Almaty, and Istanbul in October. Overall, the meetings were attended by 108 representatives from nine different countries. In addition, a number of bilateral meetings were held in each of the locations. During the public consultation period, the EBRD also received written comments from fourteen different organisations. All written and verbal comments were taken into account for the finalisation of the Strategy.
Consultation with civil society on Serbia Country Strategy
On 23 October the EBRD hosted a workshop in Belgrade to consult on the upcoming draft country strategy for Serbia. The meeting was attended by representatives of Transparency International Serbia, the Association for Business Women, the Center for Civil Society Development Protecta, the Centre for Ecology and Sustainable Development CEKOR, and Business Net Serbia. The topics addressed included transparency and good governance, business climate and access to finance, human rights, social and environmental issues, EU integration, as well as other EBRD operational priorities for the forthcoming strategy for Serbia.
Board Advisers meet civil society in Morocco
On 23 October, a delegation of Board Advisers held meetings with several CSOs in Morocco: Forum des Alternatives, Transparency Morocco, the Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, the Democratic Association of Women of Morocco, Espace Associatif, and the Working Group for the Environment. The topics for discussion ranged from law enforcement and anti-corruption efforts, to justice reform and public participation in decision making, freedom of expression and association in Morocco, and environmental protection and awareness.
Board Consultation Visit to Turkey
A group of EBRD Board members visited Turkey during 22-27 October, where meetings with two local CSOs, DKM and KEDV, where held in Ankara. Board Directors and Alternate Directors also met representatives of international CSOs at Chatham House in London on 2 November, namely the Manager for Turkey Project at Chatham House, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the International Press Institute, and the International Medical Corps UK. A wide range of topics were covered during those meetings, including energy transformation, youth unemployment and vocational training, and the situation of human rights organizations and freedom of press in the country.
Board Directors meet with civil society in Moldova
On 25 October, EBRD Board Directors met with civil society representatives in Chisinau as part of their consultation visit to Moldova. The topics covered during the meeting included transparency and anti-corruption, rule of law and democracy issues, private sector development, economic inclusion and EU integration. CSOs represented in the meeting included Transparency International Moldova, Institute for Development and Social Initiative, Partnership for Development Centre, Centre for International Private Enterprise and Centre for Policies and Reforms.
First-ever Board consultation visit to Tunisia
On 27 October, a delegation of the Bank’s Board of Directors concluded the first-ever consultation visit to Tunisia. The visit allowed Board Directors to meet some of the main civil society stakeholders in the country: the Tunisian Human Rights League, Al Bawsala, the Al Kawakibi Democracy Center, and the Center for Arab Women Training Research. A few important key messages were highlighted during those meetings, including the potential of EBRD to address gaps in inclusion and integration by supporting vocational training, facilitating access to microfinance and seed finance, promoting employability of skilled labour amongst youth, and fostering women-focussed initiatives in entrepreneurship.
EBRD President meets CSOs in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Poland
President Suma Chakrabarti met with civil society representatives as part of a series of country visits at the beginning of September. As part of an ongoing high-level dialogue between civil society and the EBRD in Azerbaijan, the President discussed with CSOs in Baku about the recent developments regarding the operating environment for civil society, as well as transparency and governance challenges. The President also met CSO representatives in Warsaw where the discussion focused on the political situation in Poland. On 12 September, a meeting between the President and civil society representatives in Belarus addressed topics including civic advocacy and community engagement, free speech, as well as socio-economic trends and the role of business in advancing human rights in Belarus.
Workshop on Anti-Corruption in Sarajevo
On 25-29 September, more than 50 civil society representatives from the Western Balkans attended a Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on Anti-Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The event marked the launch of the technical cooperation project “Enhancing the Capacity of Civil Society on Anti-Corruption and Good Governance” that the EBRD is jointly implementing with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI). The event aims to develop the capacity of around 60 participants across the region to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and its Review Mechanism.
Board of Directors meet with civil society in Ukraine
On 29 September, EBRD Board Directors met with civil society representatives in Kiev as part of their consultation visit to Ukraine. The topics covered during the meeting focused on transparency and anti-corruption, progress with the political and economic transition, as well as sustainability and environmental issues. CSOs represented in the meeting included the International Renaissance Foundation, the Kyiv School of Economics, the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine, Transparency International Ukraine, the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research, Centre UA and WWF Ukraine.
Extractive Mining Industries Strategy Consultation
The Bank has started working on the revision of its Mining Strategy and held an early consultation meeting with a select group of civil society representatives and sector experts on 28 July, at its London Headquarters. The discussion represented an opportunity for stakeholders to provide their initial input on the Strategy concept. Participants commented on issues ranging from governance and transparency, environmental and social issues, to human rights and inclusion challenges.
Moldova Country Strategy Consultation
On 12 July the EBRD hosted a workshop in Chisinau to consult on the upcoming draft country strategy for Moldova. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Institute for Public Policy, Transparency International Moldova, the Institute for Development and Social Initiative, the Ecological Movement of Moldova and the National Youth Council. The topics addressed included transparency, good governance, economic competitiveness and private sector development, economic and social inclusion, EU integration, as well as other EBRD operational priorities for the forthcoming Strategy.