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Seminar on Opportunities & Challenges and Possible Areas to Explore – A Report

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A Report on

One Day Seminar on Civil Society in India:

Opportunities and Challenges and Possible Areas to Explore

Date: 28th May 2018 | Venue: WBVHA Tower, Kolkata

Organised by: Calcutta Society for Professional Action in Development (SPADE), Kolkata & Civil Society Academy (CSA), India.


The presence of over three million Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in India has been fostering socio-economic, political and cultural development by way of playing an important role in

  • Strengthening transparent and accountable processes, and
  • Advocating for better policies and laws that advance human rights and challenge exclusions.

Both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goal emphasized the CSOs role as watchdog in monitoring the implementation of the multilateral agreements. Moreover, Moreover, UN ECOSOC in synthesizing the Voluntary National Reports (VNR) by 43 countries on SDG has underscored the need for cooperation with and inclusion in implementation of the SDGs particularly ‘with civil society, local authorities, indigenous people, local communities, academia and other relevant sectors.’

If there is opportunity for the CSOs through the Paris Agreement and the SDG, there are constraints as well. Space for CSO movement is shrinking steadily because:

  • It is the belief of the ‘…..emerging economies in the Global South ………………that protests, especially when organized, should be nipped in the bud.’
  • States in Global South strive to maintain or reclaim full control over the flow of external funds
  • Democratization aid is viewed as an illicit intervention into the internal affairs of another state
  • In today‘s digital era, … local protests can link up with an international audience and political networks faster than ever before and thus gain a visible presence. This is something that the political and economic elites in many countries quite clearly would like to eliminate. (Pages: 4-6/- ‘Civil Society under pressure – shrinking – closing – no space’: by B. Unmusbig/Heinrich Boll Foundation).

So, this is a period of big opportunities as well as of tough challenges. The CSOs in West Bengal/India need to find their specific challenges and specific opportunities for overcoming the challenges and formulate a time bound action plan in order to play the role they are expected to for the implementation of the SDGs.

Calcutta Society for Professional Action in Development (SPADE) organized a one day consultation in collaboration with Civil Society Academy, India on from 10 a.m. on 28th May 2018 at WBVHA Tower, Kolkata with the objective being: Determining future prospects of CSOs/NGOs/VOs.

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