The EBRD Civil Society Programme at the 2020 Annual Meeting has been cancelled
It is with deep regret for us to announce that the EBRD Civil Society Programme, alongside the EBRD Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors 2020 has been cancelled. This is due to the impact on international travel caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and in light of the stringent precautionary measures taken by several countries to counteract the spread of the virus.
Regarding the Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, the Bank’s shareholders are discussing the best course of action in the circumstances.
We are already looking with enthusiasm to the 2021 edition of EBRD Annual Meeting, which will take place in Yerevan, Armenia on 19-20 May.
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 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.
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.