Forus’ director, Sarah STRACK along with other leaders of civil society networks & platforms shared their observations and thoughts, identifying possible opportunities to face COVID-19 in a series of articles facilitated by ICVA (International Council of Voluntary Agencies) called The Future of civil society, 

by Sarah STRACK

The COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented test for societies, decision-makers, and communities, and is pushing the world’s resilience to its limits. Its consequences have already impacted so many in often dramatic ways, and there is no way of predicting the duration and magnitude of the challenges to come.

Newsfeeds turned into flash floods of depressing figures – and while we try to deal with the extent of the health impacts, the pandemic’s relentless shadow and concomitant abuses unfold: violence against women and girls has intensified; deforestation in the Amazon has spiked; the criminalization of social movements and the attacks on activists have continued; and more and more people hesitate to speak up about the impacts and the authorities’ management of the pandemic for fear of retaliation.

We can’t numb out of this.

And we won’t. People are most resilient when faced with great challenges. The creativity, the organizing power, the sense of solidarity that has emerged in many communities where more and deeper connections have been weaved despite physical distancing, are all incredibly inspiring. CSOs and CSO platforms have once again shown that they are at the forefront of today’s struggles, to build support networks, to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable and the many to whom the public institutions seem so disconnected from their realities.

This gives me a powerful sense of hope and incredible energy. I’m humbled by the power, commitment and compassion that we witness every day. Putting people at the center is the only way that we can come out of this crisis in a meaningful way, building a path of hope, a path to positive, transformative change.

This can be a pivotal point for mankind, it is up to us to be on the right side of History.

To do that, we need to rebuild better, putting people first, not profit. We need to develop, to own and to implement a new social contract between people, governments and the real economy. One that puts people front and center and lays the foundation for just and sustainable societies. One that isn’t inward-looking but that embraces diversity, equality and global solidarity. One where action on the climate emergency and care for our planet are ramped up, and not limited to empty promises or timid incremental steps.

If not now, then when?

Forus and its partners will continue to work closely together and join efforts wherever possible to tackle the current crisis. National and regional platforms have a unique vantage point and provide an inclusive space to spur joint initiatives, to voice demands towards decision-makers, to hold them accountable, and to ensure words are met by action.

This is not only essential in the immediate crisis response, but also in regard to the longer-term trends – all stakeholders will have to work towards creating an enabling environment for civil society to fully play its role. Whether that is from a legislative, a policy or a resourcing point of view. Truly participative processes will be the only way to ensure that the transformative agenda that we need can be co-developed, co-owned and co- implemented.

If there is one thing that is clear nowadays, it is that we will need even more cooperation to build a safe a resilient future.

You can check the complete series our articles here 🔗

Don't forget to join the workshop on this topic on June 17th, 2020.  More info here