The Commonwealth Foundation is a development organisation with an international remit and reach, uniquely situated at the interface between government and civil society.
It develops the capacity of civil society to act together and learn from each other to engage with the institutions that shape people’s lives. It strives for more effective, responsive and accountable governance with civil society participation, which contributes to improved development outcomes.
Their work spans the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 53 countries bound together by common values, including respect for diversity, human rights, democracy and good governance.
Civil Society Advisory Committee
Its Civil Society Advisory Committee (CSAC) is an advisory group composed of representatives of non-governmental Commonwealth organisations.
The committee is representative of the different regions of the Commonwealth, as well as the various sectors and constituencies of civil society. CSAC provides guidance an all aspects of the programmes and long-term strategy, offering information, advice and identifying advocates and implementing partners. Members serve a four-year term.
Their programmes are focused in four strategic areas, each complemented by the support of theri Grants Programme:
Commonwealth Writers: The cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. It inspires, develops and connects writers and storytellers. It builds communities of less-heard voices and explores how writers and their work can strengthen their role in Civil Society – social activists, community groups, and NGOs – to bring about social change.
Capacity Development: Enhancing the capacity of regional civil society organisations, networks and alliances to engage in participatory governance.
The Foundation supports civil society so that it can engage in policy processes more effectively. This means supporting organisation to develop, articulate and progress an agenda and then to identify and utilize the spaces available in governance structures – such as ministerial meetings, high level working groups and summits - to get its message across.
To enhance the potential for progressive partnerships, legitimacy and accountability, the Foundation will work with regional civil society organisations Commonwealth regions and will support the efforts of regional civil society organisations to set regional priorities, articulate their collective issues, improve communication between regional organisations and their constituents, find solutions to address them and creates spaces/opportunities to interact and share solutions with each other.
Governance: Facilitating Collaboration in Participatory Governance. Strengthening and mobilising Civil Society is at the heart of the Foundation’s mandate. The participation of CSOs in government development projects and programmes can enhance their operational performance by promoting relevance to needs, contributing local knowledge, providing technical expertise, and leveraging social capital. Further, CSOs can bring innovative ideas and solutions, as well as participatory approaches, to solving local problems.
In keeping with its mandate and optimising its convening advantage, the Foundation is working to enable CSOs to contribute meaningfully to participatory governance and in doing so, contribute to improving development outcomes.
Learning: Building a Culture of Learning in Participatory Governance. This area will focus on building a culture of learning to strengthen participation in governance. Enhancing knowledge management will contribute to sustainability by: (i) promoting knowledge sharing and learning; (ii) documenting and disseminating knowledge resources, lessons learned and success stories and (iii) maximising communications and technology to enable meaningful learning and performance. Activities in this Outcome Area will include engaging with media for development as partners in advocating for good governance. Stakeholders will also be engaged with in governance issues where there is minimal knowledge and contribute to increasing awareness and understanding of, and demand for, efficient, responsive and accountable governance.
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