The 2019 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group will be held from 11-14 June 2019, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Find out more
Over the past decade, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has become more transparent and accountable to its member countries and the broader public, developing and promoting new mechanisms and policies to better identify and integrate the African citizen aspirations. The Civil Society Organization (CSO) Engagement Framework, which participates in this vision, as presented in the Medium-term Strategy (MTS) 2008-2012, is designed to strengthen and sustain the Bank’s engagement with CSOs. This engagement will enhance the Bank's programs and policy documents as well as mainstream and broaden the participation of CSOs in management for development results in Regional Members Countries (RMCs).
The CSO comprises the full range of formal and informal organizations within society. According to the bank’s official definition,
"Civil society encompasses a constellation of human and associational activities operating in the public sphere outside the market and the state. It is a voluntary expression of the interests and aspirations of citizens organized and united by common interests, goals, values or traditions, and mobilized into collective action either as beneficiaries or stakeholders of the development process. Though civil society stands apart from state and market forces, it is not necessarily in basic contradiction to them, and it ultimately influences and is influenced by both.
'Civil Society' is the collective noun, while 'civic groups' are the individual organizations that constitute the sector. The myriad of civic organizations in civil society include, but are not limited to, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), people's and professional organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, consumer and human rights groups, women's associations, youth clubs, independent radio, television, print and electronic media, neighbourhood or community based coalitions, religious groups, academic and research institutions, grassroots movements and organizations of indigenous peoples."
AfDB’s engagement with civil society began when the Bank developed a policy paper and a set of procedures, mechanisms and guidelines to orient its cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) following the first AfDB/NGO consultative meeting, held in Abidjan in 1990. The policy for cooperation with CSOs was revised and updated in 2000. The revised policy reflects the Bank’s enhanced commitment and focuses on the broader concept of civil society. To guide and facilitate collaboration between the Bank and CSOs, a joint committee was established in 2000. In March 2010, a CSO Forum was held in Tunis and resulted in an agreement to enhance cooperation and collaboration between the Bank and African civil society community with a view to updating the existing Engagement Framework.
The present CSO Framework proposes two elements to consolidate the 2000 Policy on Civil Society Cooperation: (i) strengthening the three-tier engagement mechanism/modality at the corporate, country and project levels, and (ii) reinforcing the Bank's support to CSOs.
The CSO Engagement Framework aims to maximize opportunities for developing partnerships with CSOs at the corporate, country and project levels. The overarching objective of the framework is to help the Bank achieve greater results and impacts through improving its collaboration with CSOs and strengthening the existing mechanisms for participation and coordination.
The specific objectives of the framework are to (i) strengthen the Bank’s capacity to build cooperative working modalities with CSOs, (ii) promote staff interactions with CSOs in a way that enhances the Bank’s work and contributes to the effectiveness of its support for its regional member countries and (iii) provide operational guidance for the Bank’s headquarters, regional resource centers, country offices and project staff. This will be achieved by enhancing the partnerships and building strong alliances, ensuring a clear communication approach while ensuring consistency with Bank’s disclosure policy and building on lessons from previous experiences of Bank’s interaction with CSOs.
To operationalize this framework in a context of decentralization and limited resources, two areas have been selected: effective use of field office staff and staff training on appropriate approaches to effective CSO engagement. The development of the CSO framework will adequately define the Bank’s areas cooperation with the various categories of civil society. It will also set up guidelines for the collaboration with these key actors and update the Bank’s policies related to cooperation and engagement with CSOs.
In fact, the new framework clearly identifies specific ways in which CSOs can consolidate ongoing AfDB activities:
The CSO framework will be implemented in a progressive manner: