Positioning for civil society engagement in the 2030 Agenda

August 30, 2017
OPI organization scores in Pact's Capacity Solutions Platform.

As the International Forum for National NGOs Platform articulated in its recent discussion paper, Developing the Capacities of Civil Society for a Successful Implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there is an “urgent need for the international political community to plan for, and fully resource, a coordinated approach to capacity development.” With thousands local and national civil society partners globally, Pact recognizes that need and knows we have a role to play in supporting civil society - to enhance their ability to more meaningfully engage governments and businesses in the implementation and monitoring of the Agenda 2030. 

We agree that a global approach to civil society capacity development (Recommendation 1) is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that civil society must be engaged in the design of the approach. But our experience in places like Myanmar, Nigeria and South Africa, also shows that the approach must remain flexible enough to account for the variety of macro and micro contexts across the globe, including those where civil society is under threat. Similarly, it must account for the vast spectrum of existing capacities, including organizational, technical and relational, across smaller less well-resourced and larger well-resourced civil society organizations. Finally, any new approach to capacity development has to consider new formations and the fluidity of civil society, including movements and networks. The approach must remain focused on the ultimate goal, the achievement of the SDGs, and that any capacity development initiative is not only for the sake of developing capacity.

To that end, Pact is fully committed to more open source resources, and the continued development and transference of traditional face to face training, skills building, and other capacity development interventions being made available electronically (Recommendation 4). As part of that commitment, we began making our capacity development materials publicly available, including our well known approach to Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA) and more recently our approaches for South to South MentoringCapacity Development Marketplaces, and other materials. We have also begun a partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to make more of our materials and approaches available through a blended learning experience, including videos for the OCA, Community Engagement, and Proposal Development.

In 2011, Pact worked with our global staff and partners to develop a standard indicator of civil society performance, an outcome of capacity development, the result of which was the development of the Organizational Performance Index (OPI). Since then, Pact has successfully tested the OPI for reliability and validity and, beginning in 2012, rolled it out in over 30 countries that would use it consistently for annual performance measurements. And because the OPI is open source we have partnered with USAID (who has endorsed the Index), GlobalGiving, Counterpart International, FHI360 (through the global LINKAGES program) and AKF to enable their teams to use the indicator. Given our extensive work in developing the OPI and its widespread use, Pact encourages the IFP and Agenda 2030 to consider its use. We believe the OPI could be one contributing measurement in determining the extent to which the capacity development of civil society has been enabled (Recommendation 5).

Pact looks forward to contributing the 2030 Agenda and supporting the IFP and other national and regional forums of civil society to gain the necessary knowledge and expertise to play an active role in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.