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Role of Civil Society

Civil Society plays many different roles and these roles are increasingly carried out through engagement in partnerships and collaborative frameworks across civil society. Stakeholders from business, government and international organizations also play a role in this expanding space.

According to a report "The Future Role of Civil Society" by Civicus in 2013, Civil Society roles are varied and can include: 

  • Watchdog: holding institutions to account, promoting transparency and accountability

  • Advocate: raising awareness of societal issues and challenges and advocating for change

  • Service provider: delivering services to meet societal needs such as education, health, food and security; implementing disaster management, preparedness and emergency response

  • Expert: bringing unique knowledge and experience to shape policy and strategy, and identifying and building solutions

  • Capacity builder: providing education, training and other capacity building

  • Incubator: developing solutions that may require a long gestation or payback period

  • Representative: giving power to the voice of the marginalized or under-represented

  • Citizenship champion: encouraging citizen engagement and supporting the rights of citizens

  • Solidarity supporter: promoting fundamental and universal values 

  • Definer of standards: creating norms that shape market and state activity


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