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Costa Rica and Paraguay Innovation Labs have ended!

As part of the Innovation Labs cycle offered throughout the year by the Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, we supported the development of a lab in Paraguay and another one in Costa Rica.

The theme of the Costa Rican lab was “Managing Public-Private Partnerships in Costa Rica for the Management of Natural Resources, in the face of the COVID-19 Crisis”, and was in charge of Asociación Regional Centroamericana para el Agua y el Ambiente – ARCA.

In Paraguay’s edition, the theme was “Promotion and Defense of Civic Space in Paraguay“, coordinated by Asociación de ONGs del Paraguay – POJOAJU.

Both laboratories were held virtually and were attended by 25 people each. During the sessions, the teams learned to apply the Design Thinking methodology for the development of innovative prototypes to solve the problems addressed.

The design of prototypes implied that no project had to be already in implementation at the time of the Lab, but it had to have the capacity to visually express what it sought to solve. They had to be able to empathize with the problem at hand and guarantee its effective implementation.

At the end of each laboratory, a jury of experts selected a winning team that received a seed fund of US$1,500 to be used in the implementation of one of the phases of the prototype. In the case of Paraguay, two winning teams were selected.

We will continue working from the team to create spaces that encourage CSO’s in their innovation and creativity in the design of solutions.

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Join Visible Diversity: an exercise of collective reflection on how we are as social organizations

There is still time to join the collective voice! We invite you to collectively reflect on how social organizations in the region are like in terms of diversity. 

All those who are part of a social organization, whether paid or voluntary, formal or informal organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, can participate in the survey that we are carrying out from RACI with the support of the Innovation for Change Regional Center in Latin America. The survey is available for 34 countries and in 4 languages: Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

Considering that culture is facing a paradigm shift, the purpose of this study is to arise fruitful debates that reinforce and collaborate with our commitment to Human Rights, and that these be diverse, accessible and plural spaces.

From RACI we understand that it is vital that we as social organizations analyze our practices and dynamics, and analyze the extent to which we are challenging the prevailing standards of exclusion and privilege. For this reason, we seek to gather the concerns, opinions and reflections of different voices in order to gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics of the diversity in our sector. 

Join the collective voice and answer the survey!

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RACI, OECD, and World Bank Webinar: The new post-Covid-19 scenarios and their challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean

On December 9, we organized a webinar together with OECD and the World Bank to reflect on the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean. Possible tools to achieve a more socially and economically inclusive post-pandemic situation were discussed. 

From the OECD, Dr. Rubén Maximiano highlighted the importance of competition policies as part of the solution to the crisis. These would be useful both to balance current needs, and in turn, would contribute to more efficient markets as a whole, benefiting both large and small companies. It would also ensure a level playing field at the national and global level. 

The OECD and the World Bank argued that competition policy is a central element for governments to build resilient, inclusive and sustained economies. 

According to Maximiano, there are three key points where competition is essential to recover Latin America from the current crisis: governments must implement efficiency-based competition policies; these must be part of the government’s response to the crisis, leading to structural reforms; and, governments must empower and resource competition authorities to maintain enforcement and contribute to economic reforms. 

Further into the discussion, Juliana Catania, representing RACI, focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Civil Society. The crisis brought to the surface the previously existing structural inequalities and the limitations in rights suffered by the people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The enabling environment of Civil Society, where democracy and its freedoms are developed, was affected by government decisions during the pandemic through a severe restriction in civic space both globally and regionally. 

Thanks to the Perspectiva Cívica study conducted by our team, the clear need to position civil society as a relevant actor within public policies was recognized. This is due to data collected from the survey such as: a 57% increase in demands on CSOs, a 9% increase in CSO resources, and that 71% of CSOs recognize the need for greater funding and support from the State. 

On the other hand, William Maloney, representing the World Bank, acknowledged that one of the major long-term concerns is the consequence of the loss of human capital after access to education has been limited for almost 2 years: in the future, social mobility and economic growth will be a conflict for both governments and society as a whole.

In terms of growth, practically the entire region has not yet managed to recover its pre-pandemic numbers, and the most worrying thing is that the growth rate for the coming years is 3%, which is not enough to reduce inequalities. 

Latin America must be more dynamic in exports and reduce resistance to internal competition. In addition, the importance of allowing the entry of large companies into the region to boost the economies was expressed. 

On the other hand, the entire innovation system should be considered a priority to increase business productivity and foster a strong link between universities and the private sector to transfer and adapt new ideas for industry.

Both OECD and the World Bank expressed their views on the performance of today’s companies. While Maloney commented on the need to improve human capital management skills and to give rise to competition policies, they both stressed the importance of avoiding the artificial preservation of declining sectors. 

Finally, the issue of strengthening post-pandemic governance was raised. RACI stressed the importance of recognizing that the crisis is both economic and human rights related. Governance must be strengthened by respecting the rights of people in all countries of the world, but also by seeing society as the creator of public policies. 

The World Bank considered that there is a great lack of legitimacy in the governments of the region. The strategy may vary, but all the panelists agreed that governments must take on the task of promoting efficiency and competition.

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In February, we meet again! New Coworking space for CSOs

Once again, we are joining efforts to create solutions. Together with Fundación Navarro Viola, we would like to invite social organizations to a new coworking space, specially designed to promote teamwork and strengthen the impact of Argentine Civil Society.

This initiative will put into operation a space for mutual enrichment from and for Civil Society, promoting teamwork. We know how important it is to have a space where we can function, organize our work and carry out our activities. Today we are happy to offer a space for meeting, empowerment and connection with other social initiatives.

If you belong to a Civil Society Organization and need a workspace, register here and tell us more about your team’s needs in order to improve our proposal.

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The training cycle “Fortalecimiento de capacidades para Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil de América Latina y el Caribe” comes to an end

RACI continued its efforts to accompany the region’s Civil Society in the defense of civic space, its strengthening and resilience.

During the months of September and December 2021, the Regional Center of Innovation for Change in Latin America and the Caribbean carried out the training cycle “Fortalecimiento de capacidades para Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil de América Latina y el Caribe”.

The activity was aimed at the development and institutional strengthening of organizations in the areas of: Access to Resources, Networking, Strategic Planning, Transparency and Accountability, Data and Analysis and Institutional Communication. 

One hundred regional organizations were selected to participate in the cycle, which lasted twelve weeks. RACI participated in the organization of the activities in partnership with other expert organizations in the region, such as Grupo FARO (Ecuador), Jóvenes Contra la Violencia (Guatemala) and Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana (Peru). 

These trainings were highly valued by the organizations from 20 participating countries, which helped strengthen their tools and diversify their practices to face the ever-changing challenges of the region.

RACI will continue working to create new spaces and training opportunities for Civil Society Organizations.

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Join the collective voice! Diversidad Visible is out, a survey about diversity in organizations co-created with the Diversities Work Team of our network

Do we really have diverse and plural work teams? Does the work environment present in our organization celebrate differences? What  could we improve? And what points of view are we not taking into account? 

We are honored to present Diversidad Visible, an invitation to collective reflection on how we are as social organizations. At RACI, we are fully convinced that there is still a lot to do in our organizations and we believe that it is our duty as Civil Society to be agents of change and to work tirelessly to continue amplifying voices and to challenge exclusion more and more every day.

I WANT TO JOIN THE COLLECTIVE VOICE! 📣 

The survey was co-created by the Research Area and the Diversities Work Team of our network, composed of 19 organizations that address Human Rights on different neuralgic fronts of diversity. It collects the concerns, questions, debates, analysis and reflections that its member organizations raised throughout this year.

Starting from the base of the Epistemologies of the South and, always understanding that all knowledge is collectively co-created, the research seeks to carry out a contribution to the inquiry on the main challenges for diversity in social organizations today. The research will cover Latin America and the Caribbean, the survey being available in four languages for 34 countries in the region.

We hope that this proposal has a great reception, in aim to generate quality information in the construction of a more diverse future for all. For more information about the research, click here.

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We are at the closing stage of the first phase of the New Zealand Fund in Mexico!

Between November 15th and 25th, 2021 the New Zealand Fund in Mexico 2021-2022 was open. The Fund supports sustainable development in developing countries with the objective of reducing poverty and make the world a safe, prosperous and fair place to live.

During this period of time, RACI received and systematized 278 applications from Mexico (203), Guatemala (18), El Salvador (28), Nicaragua (5), Costa Rica (5), Panama (2), Dominican Republic (14), and Cuba (3).   

The applications were based on the following axes:

  • 147 promote the Development of Communities, particularly indigenous and rural.
  • 94 projects focus on Climate Change and Resilience.
  • 93 are linked to Sustainable and Agriculture Development.
  • 90 work Education axis.
  • 30 of Migration.
  • 21 projects based on the LGBTQ+ Community.

Next step of the process:

As phase 1 of the application is closed, RACI team will be analyzing the concept notes received. A pre-selection will be done to determinate those projects that satisfy the Fund requirements and criteria. The pre-selected organizations will be notified by email on December 9th and will be invited to participate on a second phase where they will be required to present an Extended Application Form. 

All applications must be submitted as follows: 

  1. The form named “Form 02 – Extended Application Form” will be sent by email to the pre-selected organizations.
  2. Download and complete application. The form must be:
    1. Written in Spanish.
    2. Accompanied by additional information, budget, goods and services suppliers purchase orders.
    3. Signed by a responsible member of the requesting organization. 
    4. Presented in editable Word or PDF format.
  3. Send “Form 02 – Extended Application Form” document. 

The reception period for those pre-selected organizations to send the Extended Application Form will be open from December 13th to 23th, 6:00 pm (Mexico City time).  

During this period, RACI team will be open to receive inquiries and assist pre-selected organizations through the email: fondoembajadanzmexico@raci.org.ar

For more information about the Fund, visit our news

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Accountability for more transparent CSOs

Recently, RACI has continued its work to promote dynamic accountability among Civil Society Organizations.

Dynamic accountability is based on the use of a set of self-assessment mechanisms through which organizations can improve their performance in meeting that objective. In the process, organizations consult with internal and external actors, detecting and solving problems that prevent greater transparency and legitimacy among working communities.

In this regard, RACI offered between July and September, with the support of Iniciativa Regional Rendir Cuentas, the workshop “Rendición de cuentas centrada en comunidades de trabajo”. More than 70 organizations participated in the workshop to inform about the importance of accountability among Civil Society Organizations.

The organizations highlighted the importance of dynamic accountability, and agreed to include the commitments of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability in annual planning processes. In addition, they agreed to implement it in daily processes, generating more spaces for dialogue between the work communities.

The workshop went beyond financial accountability, and focused on diverse topics such as housing, human rights, people with autism, education, environmental care, art, entrepreneurship, health, youth and gender equality. The focus was especially put on their core audiences: the people and organizations with whom they work, who are served and whom they represent.

The main measures that the organizations proposed in the final diagnostic activity include:

  • The assembly of an accountability manual for the internal use of the organization.
  • Incorporation of improvements in the website, based on the recommendations of the Global Standard.
  • Establishment of greater spaces for dialogue between the team and the recipients of the programs.
  • Rethink the way financial information is presented.
  • Incorporate the recommendations of the Global Standard into annual planning.
  • Incorporate self-assessment into the annual planning space, so that the entire team participates.
  • Improve the systematization of existing practices to make the work of the organization visible.

RACI will continue to support organizations in the implementation of improvements to their institutional practices based on the self-evaluation exercise.

In addition, Guillermo Correa, Executive Director of RACI participated in the event “Social Innovation Laboratory: Transparency and Accountability” organized by Grupo FARO in Ecuador, together with the directors of other Organizations in the region. On this occasion, work was done to transform the well-known dynamic accountability into a continuous dialogue of learning in times where civic space is reduced. The feedback of the parties in the decision-making process, in performance, and in trust, synthesized in the Global Standard, was highlighted as essential.

The Global Standard includes 12 aspirational commitments made with the aim of future CSOs performing better in establishing links, strengthening their individual and collective impact, and increasing their contribution to the SDGs. This new approach to which RACI adhered will contribute to strengthening the efficiency and interaction capacities of CSOs.

On the other hand, on November 22, 23 and 24, the World Accountability Week (GAW),an initiative of AGNA, was heldwithin the framework of CIVICUS, with the purpose of increasing and learning more about dynamic accountability, in which more than 60 organizations participated.

In addition to participating in the 90th Day Accountability Challenge last year, RACI committed to participate in this new process of highlighting the cultures, structures and participatory mechanisms of organizations and their flexibility in the face of changing needs. Dynamic accountability involves CSOs engaging in ongoing dialogue with the people and communities they help or benefit from, and ensuring that decisions are informed, co-created and validated by these stakeholders.

We continue to work from the team to create spaces that promote interest and effectiveness in the accountability and transparency of CSOs. We expect to continue to grow in this compelling capacity, in conjunction with the Third Sector as a whole.

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Talking about the market’s role on solving the Inequality problem

RACI, next to Right CoLab, Predistribution Initiative and Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, organized a webinar that aimed to debate the private sector’s role on reducing the inequality gap.

In this occasion we were accompanied by the panelists Paula Cardenau, Arbusta’s co-funder; Constanza Gorleri, Banco Galicia’s sustainability manager; Alicia Montoya, climate change advocate and member of El Álamo; Contanza Conolly, co-founder of Keidos Impacto Legal; and Paul Rissman, from Rights Colab. 

During the event, Paula Cardenau stated the fundamental role the private sector has when it comes to generating job opportunities for young people who are in economically vulnerable contexts. On the other hand, in representation of the private sector, Constanza Gorleri explained the importance of businesses from the financial sector on contributing to the local development of a sustainable economy that is able to include the whole chain value. In addition, Constanza Connolly added to the agenda the crucial role of private businesses on generating strategies that allow the articulation of the three sectors, while strengthening the Civil Society. Contributing to the debate, Alicia Montonya gave us her insight on how social investments from private businesses can lead to important changes. However, she stated that it is fundamental for the state to  intervene, making sure that those strategies become policies which contribute to the fight against inequality. 

Lastely, Paul Rissman mentioned that the Task Force on Inequality-related Financial Disclosures (TIFD), is looking to reduce inequalities on Civil Society Organizations by facilitating and providing investors with enough information about possible risks.

From RACI, we would like to thank everyone that participated on the webinar. We will continue to host events that allow us to discuss possible strategies on combating inequality, while hearing different voices with either local, regional, or international perspectives.

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Part 3: We interviewed Emergency Fund COVID 19 winners!

We present the third edition of the series of interviews with the winners of the COVID 19 Emergency Fund – Latin America and the Caribbean. Keep reading to get to know them!

As a part of the Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean, 15 organizations received up to US$5,000 to develop their projects. We sought projects that contribute to protecting public space with innovative initiatives, creatively addressing the community challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below, we share some of the questions and answers that we received!

What did it mean for your Organization to be a beneficiary of the Fund? In what aspects do you think it was strengthened institutionally?

For CIPPEC: “The Fund implied a significant support to advance with a diagnosis that would provide knowledge that had been lacking until now: How is the right of access to information used and disseminated in poor neighborhoods? In this sense, the Fund allowed us to work with consultants specialized in access to information and data, who were key to prepare documents and also to have the resources to carry out interviews. In terms of institutional strengthening, we can mention two issues: i) the link with new actors; and, ii) the strengthening of two work agendas, one on access to information and active transparency and the other on working class neighborhoods”. 

Editor’s Note: Through this link, access the reports produced by the project on the situation of the right of access to information in vulnerable neighborhoods in Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What was the challenge you wanted to face with this project? To what extent did it worsen with the advent of the pandemic? What did you and your organization propose to solve it?

For Datalat, on the other hand: “The challenge we faced in the project was access to open data, proof of this situation was evidenced during the pandemic related to Covid-19 where the lack of access to public information caused delays in decision making at government level, affecting various sectors.  In this sense, this project allowed us to know the benefits of having updated governmental open data to improve decision making, access to information and its use from different sectors, through a campaign with free resources on open data, and a virtual training process”.

Editor’s Note: Access Datalat’s ABC of Open Data via the following link.

What challenges did you encounter along the way?

For CEADEL,the challenge was tripartite and closely linked to the pandemic context:

“1. Not having the authorization of the Department of Education to interview teachers, students and parents; due to the risks of the covid-19 pandemic.

2. Carry out the investigation while the municipality of Chimaltenango is in the red alert system; risking contracting the virus because in the communities there is reluctance to wear a mask.

3. Delay in the investigation process because all the staff of the association (CEADEL) was infected with the virus.”

Gladis Marroquín, CEADEL Project Coordinator (Guatemala).

Editor’s Note: Access the report made by CEADEL on the educational situation of children, adolescents and young people from six rural communities of Chimaltenango (Guatemala), within the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic through the following  link.

Could you mention three positive changes that the project has produced and that are sustainable over time?

In FOPRIDEH,  the following stand out as positive and sustainable changes:

“1. The Reactivación de la Escuela de Veeduría y Auditoría Social of FOPRIDEH. 

  1. The training of new observers, who are currently applying the knowledge and tools of the course in their own municipalities, actively participating as citizens.
  2. La Entrega de la aplicación móvil con fácil descarga desde el hospedador de FOPRIDEH para realizar la Veeduría Social a los cursantes. Esto tendrá un efecto multiplicador ya que se puede difundir a más interesados en utilizar la herramienta, impulsando así la participación ciudadana.”

Lesly Álvarez, Financial Administrative Manager of FOPRIDEH (Honduras).

Editor’s Note: to enter the platform “Social Oversight on the use and management of Municipal Budgets to address the COVID-19 pandemic” developed by FOPRIDEH, click  here.

Could you share a brief quote from the direct beneficiaries of the Project regarding what it meant to be a participant in it?

One of the beneficiaries of the Fundeps project – an organization that worked in an articulated way through the Noise Network in the realization of a report on public procurement during the pandemic in Argentina – meant:  “A great learning of collective and coordinated work with a common interest, that of providing greater quality and transparency to public institutions,  even in times of emergency.” 

Nina Sibilia, Democracy Coordinator at Fundeps (Argentina).

Editor’s Note: Access the Report on public procurement in pandemic during 2020 made by Fundeps by clicking here.