Global Perspectives | Policy Paper | December 2018

GP Policy Paper “Aurora Dialogues Berlin 2018”

The Role and Impact of Civil Society in Supporting Sustainable Development and Tackling Humanitarian Challenges

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GP Policy Paper "Aurora Dialogues Berlin 2018"

In 2018 there are 7.5 billion people on the earth. More than 700 million of these people are living in abject poverty, under USD 1.90 a day, 1 billion people are living in slums and informal settlements, and 69 million are forcibly displaced, due to conflict or natural disasters. Of those displaced over 25 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Improving these children’s life chances, eradicating poverty and inequality, tackling climate change, stemming the tide of natural disasters, and preventing conflict and instability are immense challenges.

World leaders have taken steps in the right direction by agreeing to a set of 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which cover many of above-mentioned issues. But governments cannot do this alone. The root causes of these issues are complex, requiring technical solutions as well as broad community mobilization. To which end, there is a crucial role for civil society, as recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which calls for a new Global Partnership “bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society…” and other relevant actors.

Crucial to effective scaling up of CSO activities is a clear documentation of what works. As highlighted by this paper, with quantitative and qualitative evidence of impact it is far easier to decipher which forms of civil society and what activities will be most effective within a given context. However, evidence of CSO impact is incredibly scarce and seldom documented in peer-reviewed, independent literature. Donors and the international community should therefore make a conscious and deliberate effort to provide support to CSO groups to actively document their impact and to monitor their contributions over time.


  • Nadine Bütow, Public Relations Global Perspectives Initiative
  • Jessica Espey, Senior Advisor at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
  • Michael Werz, Senior Fellow Center for American Progress


  • Global Perspectives Initiative

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