On 2 June 2021, Accountable Now joined civil society actors, donors and governance leaders in the OECD DAC’s Civil Society Days. The technical virtual workshop, ‘Towards building forward better together: finding solutions to enable civil society’ brought together a variety of actors who shared their insights and experiences to contribute to a collective learning experience. The workshop gave the space for Accountable Now to present how we, with our members, have strengthened resilience, accountability and effectiveness during the COVID-19 crisis.
By engaging directly with our members throughout the past year, as well as reflecting on the good practices that are found within their accountability reports, we were able to present lessons to the technical virtual workshop on CSO effectiveness and resilience in times of COVID-19 that were common for most of our members:
- Members were able to maintain dialogue and engagement with stakeholders – Accountable Now members have increased the frequency of online communications, when face to face interactions are not possible.
- Building trust from the public and internally had to shift towards dealing with misinformation and rumors spread. A proactive approach to communication and engagement with the public has been needed to prevent misinformation.
- Collaboration with partners: members have increased collaboration with other organizations, through alliances or partnerships, to discuss challenges and opportunities and share learnings.
- Safeguarding the people involved in member’s actions has been a priority. This included supporting member staff and volunteers, e.g. human resources staff have shifted efforts to support organizations’ immediate needs.
- Many of strived to ensure inclusion in their actions when social distancing has been the norm in most of the globe
- Resilient organizations/ resilient leadership: Members have come to understand how leadership should fight for connection. We need to honor people’s experiences and where they’re at. Human connections are the heart of our work and can build a strong and resilient CSO.
As well as these learnings, new accountability conversations have emerged during the pandemic that we still need to unpack:
- What does good governance look like in lockdown situations? Is this an opportunity for an inclusive and participatory approach to our actions or a constraint?
- Localization is an imperative for accountability and is at the core of dynamic accountability. By relying on local partners and connection with local communities, can our members overcome the struggles of practicing accountability in pandemic-affected populations?
- What does remote accountability look like in the digital era? The systems we have in place have been challenged so how must they adapt?
While the impact of the pandemic on our organization still needs to be unpacked, we strongly believe that an organisation that uses the Global Standard for CSOs Accountability, practices dynamic accountability and has systems in place to ensure feedback, strong horizontal partnerships based on mutual trust can support a resilient and effective CSO. Practicing dynamic accountability allows CSOs to be prepared and flexible, but for its implementation we need the support from our wider stakeholders like donors to support us to:
- increase our capacities to listen, to participate and be responsive. We need our member organisations and other CSOs to be open and transparent and practice participatory decision-making processes.
- enable organizations to practice this different kind of accountability where communities, local, national CSOs and activists are leading, valued, supported, heard and recognized in a horizontal way by those in power.