The 2020 State of Civil Society Report is now Available!

This year, CIVICUS published the ninth edition of the State of Civil Society Report, which is carried out annually since 2012. The report analyzes the way in which current events and trends affect civil society and how civil society responds to the main problems and challenges of the moment.

2019, despite bringing enormous political, economic and social problems, was a year in which civic action achieved significant impacts by promoting progressive changes, reclaiming civic rights and democratic freedoms, fairer economic policies and greater equality, as well as action on the climate crisis and promoting reform of the international system. Among the successful tactics were non-violent civil disobedience, civil society campaigns and advocacy, creative use of social media, and court and parliamentary work.

A great wave of protests erupted in all corners of the world. Many were of a non-partisan nature; they targeted governments and leaders in power, across the whole political spectrum, and demanded that they make greater efforts to meet the needs of their citizens.

Time and again in 2019, the population showed that they wanted more and better democracy. In several countries where democratic liberties have been denied or elections have not been free and fair, people took to the streets to demand that their voices be heard, and their rights respected.

Efforts to advance equality and challenge patriarchy are part of a larger picture of progress. Civil society worked to support activists and demand the rights of women and people of the LGBTQI+ community, offering intersectional responses to the multiple and overlapping layers of exclusion that deny their rights. In 2019, a series of milestones occurred in which women achieved visibility in various fields. Women political leaders made progress modeling different styles of leadership and challenging sexist politics. The victories were achieved through combinations of massive street action to demand visibility and claim spaces, and years of defense and legal action undertaken by civil society. Along with participation and leadership in institutional politics, women were at the forefront of many of the great protest movements that demanded democratic freedoms and economic change. An example is Chile, where women lobbied to focus on gender parity during constitutional processes, and also Brazil, where tens of thousands of women took to the streets to denounce misogynistic and racist policies and those that attempted against indigenous peoples, including the government’s intention to allow mining in indigenous territory.

In 2019, economic injustice was one of the main engines of collective action. One of the most striking aspects of the protests was that they had similar triggers: a relatively small change in a government’s economic or social policy produced a huge and angry response due to the impact it generated on people who were already poor or excluded, increasing considerably their feeling of insecurity. Many of these protests exposed deep underlying fractures in economic and political systems, and condensed years of growing discontent.

Around the world, the youth-led school strike movement, as well as countless environmental and indigenous movements, demanded that decision-makers recognize and pay attention to the magnitude of the climate emergency and take steps to avoid its worst impacts before it was too late. A salient feature of 2019 is the central role of youth in change advocacy movements. Contrary to stereotypes, they embodied the voice of reason, adopted scientific discourse, and rejected disinformation. A new generation of citizens is emerging, which shows that power can be born from personal activism, creative commitment and decentralized coordination.

In 2020, much of the daily work of civil society became much more difficult. However, although the pandemic is generating profound impacts, none of the problems it reveals is new. Civil society will continue to mobilize around the key issues raised during 2019, in response to the pandemic and also after the immediate crisis is behind us. In this context, the role of civil society is more vital than ever. CSOs, always at the forefront of crisis response, provided medical care, food, shelter and other basic goods to those in need. The world will emerge transformed by the virus; however, it is up to us to make sure that change is for the best.

Looking ahead, we must promote new strategies to fight disinformation and new models of inclusive and responsible leadership. In driving recovery, it will be key to both rebalance power and build solidarity ties between employers and workers, creditors and debtors, and homeowners and tenants, as well as taking a human rights approach and reaching the most disadvantaged first. The protection of biodiversity and ecological recovery must be prioritized, based on new green proposals to promote sustainable production, consumption and employment. Responses to the pandemic must strengthen and preserve the autonomy of international institutions. Civil society should be involved in discussions about how UN institutions should change and should be allowed to properly carry out its controlling role. We must defend the role of civil society in this reconstruction.

We need a civil society endowed with adequate resources, densely networked and focused on mutual solidarity rather than competition. We can and must fully play our role to guarantee a recovery that does not intend to return to the previous normality, but to take a leap forward, towards a better alternative.


75 Years After the Creation of the UN: Resignifying multilateralism

Together with UN Argentina, we have carried out the event “Civil Society facing the new global scenario post COVID-19” with the aim of proposing a space for dialogue to think about the future of our sector. In the context of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the UN, we invited everyone to resignify multilateralism. In order to do this, we were accompanied by great international and local experts which joined our panel: Clara Bosco (CIVICUS), Francisco de Santibañes (CARI), Mercedes Korin (Modo Delta) and Gerardo Torres (Meridian International).

Within this context of uncertainty, as consequence of the pandemic and the emergence of new trends and structural changes in the international system, the experts emphasize on the need of a strong Civil Society. It is of utmost importance that alliances strengthened and promoted, and that dialogue is encouraged. In this context, Francisco de Santibañes assures: “We must work for a more agile, realistic multilateralism, closer to Civil Society”.

CSOs need to reorganize and adapt to the current scenario, however, we should ask ourselves: what is the future we want?, what are our priorities?. Without delimiting the pre-eminent lines of action, we will not be able to promote the change we want for the new post-COVID paradigm. Some of the lines planted were: Prioritize the needs of the most excluded, reform multilateral organizations to give space to new voices and demand for enabling environments for an unrestricted and resilient Civil Society. Clara Bosco stated: “The pandemic shows our interdependence and the need for greater cooperation, sharing resources, innovation, technology and skills.”

Gerardo Torres then outlined some positive points. On the one hand, civic action increased around topics that Civil Society organizations have been working on for a long time, demonstrating that if the interests of CSOs align with those of citizens, people are willing to collaborate. Then he added: “I see five well-marked opportunities for issues in the post-pandemic scenario in Latin America: rethinking the new social contract, education, access to technology, financial inclusion and the right to property.” Finally, questioning the old narratives about “success” and “impact”, he proposed a new figure: The leader who cares about others.

“The world is going to need more than ever that we all think from the common good” declared Mercedes Korin, also inviting to “befriend” with uncertainty, question our certainties and not seek answers, but new questions, since these are the ones that open the game to build with others.

In this way, the event revolved around a conversation that analyzed from the international and institutional context, to the individual experience of the crisis, going over the role of Civil Society and innovation to overcome the adversities that 2020 has brought.

Special thanks to UN Argentina and our four panelists for participating. To view the full event, visit:


Rethinking Volunteering in the Time of Coronavirus

Despite the social isolation caused by the coronavirus, new forms of solidarity have emerged to confront the pandemic and its consequences, with millions of people across the world finding innovative ways to mobilize to help others.

International organizations also had to adapt and imagine new forms of volunteering and cooperation. Many organizations had to repatriate thousands of volunteers, which was an unprecedented logistical effort. The coronavirus presents specific challenges that involve a reflection on the current model of volunteering.

This reflection is even more necessary due to the fact that volunteers have unique attributes to be key actors in post-COVID-19 economic and social reconstruction. Through their ground work, they act as a strong link between communities, organizations and governments, building relationships of trust and providing essential knowledge about local realities and needs. Volunteering is also a flexible and adaptable model that has proven to be helpful in all kinds of programs.

Two adaptation axes have been developed to continue cooperating in this exceptional context. On one hand, repatriated or unable to travel volunteers find new ways to mobilize and have an impact online and through various virtual platforms. On the other hand, support to local actors and volunteers is strengthened to keep programs on the ground running.

Another challenge in the near future is the return of volunteers on the field. In order to ensure a successful transition, organizations must cooperate and communicate with each other about risks as well as the measures and restrictions that are applied.

As in other sectors, a new normality is emerging for volunteering and international cooperation. This time of adaptation and reflection is an opportunity to think of new participation models that may have a lasting impact.

Reference article:


You can also collaborate with the #ShareTheLove campaign

Share the ❤️ is a global campaign that is held in more than ten countries all around the world, with the proposal of strengthening the programs from Civil Society Organizations that have been affected by the crisis. Worldwide, a few of our more loved and essential organizations have joined in a spectacular proof of collective kindness. This crisis has created extraordinary challenges for a whole range of people around the world and we really want our organizations to be able to continue helping.

Share the ❤️ is about joining in a global act of collective kindness so as to be able to support the mission and the activities of many Civil Society Organizations that need your help, today more than ever.

We count on your support in Argentina!


With your collaboration, you are helping these ten CSOs in Argentina to continue carrying out their work and reaching those who need it most: RACI, Civic House, Fundación Cruzada Patagónica, Encontrarse en la diversidad, Reciduca,  Cooperadora del Hospital de Niños «Dr. Ricardo Gutiérrez», Mensajeros de la Paz Argentina,  Asociación Civil Alegría Intensiva, Cimientos y  Fundación el arte de vivir.


Thinking About the Future of Civil Society after the Pandemic: Interview to Darren Ward

RACI had the opportunity to interview Darren Ward, co-founder and managing partner of Direct Impact Group, an independent international consultancy, specialized in creating and delivering the change needed to maximize social impact. We talked about his vision on the future of Civil Society facing the pandemic.

RACI: In order to reflect on the importance of long-term strategic planning for Civil Society Organizations… As we face these unexpected situations, such as a pandemic, we see that it is important to be prepared for different scenarios. In this context, how do we find the balance between the immediate and the strategic approach?

Darren Ward: The truth is that we don’t know how this pandemic is going to play out. What we do know is there’ll be ongoing economic and health issues, but how bad they’ll get we don’t know, and we don’t know if there’s going to be a second wave of it globally. So, the scenario planning around this likely case, it’s by starting to think about how your organization would respond if the worst happened. Organizations, when managing their finances, must look into where they are having the greatest impact and think about what effect a cut would have in the future. They also have to know which of the programs they are running have the greatest impact and keep those active, making cuts in those that do not have as much impact. I’ve seen organizations have drawbacks on their investment into donor relations, it may be a difficult time since the level of financing has dropped dramatically, but if they keep the relationships strong, then they’re going to be in a better position when things eventually turn around, which also remain top of mind with their donor as well.

RACI: We talked about how organizations can maximize their social impact. We work a lot with collaborative culture and try to articulate between our organizations, the government and the private sector. Do you think this enriches the impact that organizations can have in times of crisis?

DW: Having someone who is doing that is really important. Collaborations within NGOs working together have increased, but also within all sectors. I think that if organizations want to make some more impact, then they are going to need to look at the whole ecosystem they work in and where their piece of work fits within the community, as well as looking for other partners to work with and really create ongoing impact. Organizations are going to have to be a lot more open to partnership; this will be a key for coming out of this crisis.

RACI: What do you think about the role of donors during the crisis? Do you think they have acted properly?

DW: Many have, some haven’t. But, on the whole, what we hear internationally is that donors, whether it is government donors or philanthropic foundations, have allowed organizations to take the funding that was for a particular project and let them use it so as to keep the organization going and to continue having as much impact as they could. This freedom on funding has been really useful. The organizations need to be really clear on the impact they’re having and quite transparent communicating that to donors as well, so that the trust is sustained.

RACI: Nowadays, many philanthropic organizations and CSOs are covering some work traditionally done by governments. Do you think that, in the long term, some roles will be permanently modified?

DW: Possibly. A lot of that depends on perhaps where the economy is right going into. We see in a lot of countries that NGOs are playing the role of government and have been for a long time, and you don’t see it changing for a long time. This happens because there is no government infrastructure in place that enables them to earn the revenue to fund those programs. It’s building but it’s slow. In emerging markets, I think that there’ll be a real pressure on governments funding, and NGOs will need to step in and pick that up. In some countries you can point that the improved healthcare or education has come with NGOs in the private sector that got involved and actually built an infrastructure in order to provide low-cost services, accessible to the population. In more developed economies, I think that we’ll see a short-term replacement of services perhaps by NGOs, but it will be governments that pace it up on the longer term.

RACI: Thinking about the future and the lessons we have learned, what can organizations take from this situation?

DW: I think there’s a few lessons. We have learnt that organization continuity planning is important and that no financial stress can be taken for granted. We need to think on how to diversify revenue streams, how can we protect them from down terms as much as possible, and what we would do if we have one or all revenues streams reduced significantly. We’ve learned that we can work with a whole lot less infrastructure around us, from home or virtually, without the need to be jumping on a plane all of the time. So, I think we’ve learned that we can do things differently and I think that it’ll change how we work. The trend of program localization will accelerate, of people wanting to have programs that are developed in the community, for the community, to fulfil their needs and to fight for it. I think now we have to trust local organizations, because they are the ones that are on the ground, and partner with them as equals rather than imposing ideals on them.

For more information on the work done by the Direct Impact Group, please visit:


Our Members: Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina presents #NosQuedamosEnCasa

Vida Silvestre launched the platform #NosQuedamosenCasa, with free content and activities meant to help staying in touch with nature, without needing to leave your house to do so.

The platform includes options for all ages, activities for kids, documentaries, suggestions to get to know the nature that surrounds our homes, reading resources, and 12 webinars on various topics.

The objective is to make available various resources in order to help us keep getting to know and learn about environmental issues, in a context that challenges us to find new ways of connecting with nature. By entering you can explore all of these possibilities grouped by theme, and chose the ones that appeal to you the most.

For kids, you will find environmental education activities designed for various school levels; a coloring book to learn a whole lot on the animals that live in the forests of the Gran Chaco; a paper jaguar craft created with the help of the Guardabosques design studio with the aim of sparking creativity, and an invitation to participate to the short film contest “A cuidar nuestro mundo”, organised as part of The Puerto Madryn International Film Festival (MAFICI), which encourages kids from 6 to 18 years old to make short videos on environmental topics.

In the documentary section, you can watch the film “Jaguar, Its Last Frontier” narrated by Ricardo Darín and directed by Jumará Films, which seeks to explain the problems that the big cat of the Americas faces in Argentina. Another film that you can watch on the platform is “Chaco Gualamba, The Last Chance”, a documentary by Marcelo Viñas produced by Timbó Films and Vida Silvestre on the issue of deforestation in Argentina’s Gran Chaco and its environmental, social and economic consequences. Moreover, you will find a link to watch “Our Planet”, the nature documentary series by Netflix and WWF produced by Silverback Films. The eight episodes are now available for free on YouTube, with Spanish subtitles which allows you to enjoy the narration by Sir David Attenborough.

In order to show that you can also enjoy nature from home, the section “Nature from home” invites you to to start using ArgentINat and to join the project for listing the biodiversity that surrounds you, from your balcony, your patio or your terrace. You can also rewatch Vida Silvestre’s webinars on environmental topics and stay tuned for the next ones to watch them live. Last but not least, the platform invites you to discover the reserves owned by Vida Silverstre: Uruguaí in the Misiones Province and San Pablo de Valdés in the Valdés Peninsula.

The platform also includes a section for special content focused on the relation between nature and the people, where you will find an opinion column by Manuel Jaramillo, Director General of Vida Silvestre, in which he shares his thoughts on the world after the pandemic; a report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) analyzing the link between nature and pandemics, and the Earth Hour 2020 special edition, which went digital for the first time in its history, including Loli Molina’s exclusive recital.

By launching this platform, Vida Silvestre’s hope is to open a window of digital opportunities in the context of national quarantine, in order to stimulate our curiosity and to allow us to learn more about the one home that we have.

Learn more on