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4th Bridging the sea debate: Civil society networks in the Mediterranean: needs and challenges08.11.2021

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) organized an online debate on “Civil society networks in the Mediterranean: needs and challenges” on 17 September 2021, in partnership with Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality Programme. This debate was held in the framework of “Bridging the Sea: a Review of Mediterranean Civil Society” publication.

The objective of this debate was to introduce “BRIDGING THE SEA: A Review of Mediterranean Civil Society” and  “CSO Networks in the Arab Region: Opportunities and Challenges publications to the Civil Society in the Arab Region as well as their findings.

Following the presentation of the publications, Faouzi Boukhreiss consultant and university professor and Lina Alameddine, Med Dialogue, Capacity development key expert emphasized the importance of networking to overcome the shrinking civic space and to enhance the influence of civil society work. Furthermore, they addressed the main prerequisites for good networking in terms of capacity and skills development while focusing on the need to rely on bargaining skills, management practices, mobilization capacities, and access to essential human and financial resources.

According to participants, the main challenges to networking between NGOs in the Mediterranean are: the weak governance and institutional capacities of the civil society, the role of donors that encourage networking on one side and promote competition over funding between NGOs on the other side; this contradictory approach jeopardizes the possibility to work together.

The main recommendations for civil society to enhance networking and collaborate together were the following:

  • To know their role well and have a clear vision and mission and adopt participatory strategic planning, which helps avoiding overlap and competition.
  • To enhance membership contribution to decision making and ownership of activities and efforts, which help in aligning the messaging and increasing the influence.
  • To expand the networking to different stakeholders amongst civil society actors, including trade unions, social movement, youth groups at national, regional and international levels which helps in building trust between the different components.
  • To develop capacities and skills for networking.
  • And to evaluate the impact of networking based on people centered indicators and policy influence.

The participants concluded that networking is not an aim but a tool for achieving change.

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