Everything needs space to grow and flourish, and so does civil society. An independent and effective civil society is a crucial component for safeguarding social justice, fostering democratic governance and progressing on sustainable development.

This is particularly important across Eastern Europe and Central Asia where there is a weak social contract and popular disillusionment with transition processes. Yet, this is where this needed space is currently shrinking – under legal, political and economic restrictions and increasing pressures.

Against the Current: Expanding Civic Space, is a civil society forum organised by UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub for Europe and Central Asia on 7-8 December 2017 in Tirana, Albania.  The forum will take place on the sides of the conference “Corruption-Free Cities of the future”, also taking place on these days in Tirana.

To this end, UNDP is seeking to work in partnership with civil society organisations and media across the region to expand civic space and to respond to the constraints that civil society faces in playing a key role in structural social transformations. The event will bring together international experts and donor organisations supporting civil society in Europe and Central Asia and civil society and media representatives to jointly discuss and share visions and trends in civic space.

The purpose is to get a better understanding of the regional dimensions of the challenges that civic actors face, discuss how the environment is shifting and the role that new actors play engaging with citizens and governments.  We will also explore how to cooperate better with the media and what opportunities the new digital era can offer.

The results of the forum will be shared soon – we will keep you posted.