CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

CIVICUS World Assembly 2010: Knowledge is power

Posted by civilsocietyindex on August 22, 2010

Give citizens control and ownership of the knowledge that affects them – that was the message on the second full day of the CIVICUS World Assembly as participants came together to discuss the topic of participatory research. Sharing experiences from Russia, Nicaragua and two global participatory research programmes, delegates to the World Assembly participated in the lively session in a workshop entitled ‘A decade of participatory research – does it help development?’.

During the workshop, John Gaventa (Chair of Oxfam GB and head of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship Participation) outlined the key reasons why participation in research was important and key, arguing that it contributes meaningfully to social cohesion, successful development interventions, and an active citizenry. Liliana Proskuryakova from Higher State University in Russia, and Luis Serra from the Red Nicaraguense por la Democracia y el Desarollo Local in Nicaragua then shared their own examples of participatory research, drawing heavily on their experiences of the Civil Society Index. Beniam Gebrezghi, Programme Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme, then compared and contrasted the Civil Society Index with the range of other civil society assessment tools, noting the enormous growth in the number of assessments during the past decade, but returning to the significance of the participatory nature of the CSI as one key distinguishing feature.

Delegates at the World Assembly will have a further opportunity tomorrow, Monday, to discuss how such initiatives can also contribute to development in Workshop 31 on the theme of Action-research across borders (see www.civicusassembly.org for full details). With civil society space and development effectiveness both high on the civil society agenda here in Montreal, one challenge becoming increasingly apparent for civil society is how to best make sure that the knowledge on which development interventions and attempts to protect and increase civil society space are founded is that which best reflects citizens’ concerns and needs.

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