Civil Society: Representation, Activism and Influence

Course overview

A new training programme for organisations promoting change in the forest sector. This training aims to critically explore the role of civil society actors in promoting good governance; the challenges and tensions inherent in that role; and practical strategies and skills for influencing change.

Course details

Courses rosette
  • Delivery method: Face-to-face
  • Duration: Five days

About this course

The crucial role played by an active civil society in driving and sustaining governance improvements is widely recognised. In the environment and natural resource sectors non-state actors have the potential to influence positive change in a number of important ways: by providing external oversight, by applying pressure for greater transparency and accountability, by representing marginalised communities, and by influencing the development of legislation, policies and programmes which conserve the environment whilst protecting and promoting the rights of vulnerable populations.

Recognition of the benefits of an active civil society has led to a dramatic increase in the number of civil society organisations during recent decades. However, as the sector expands and changes there is a real and continuing need for CSO staff, activists and volunteers to reflect on their role within it; its boundaries and possibilities, and the practical skills and capacities required to bring about citizen-driven change.

This new, five day programme has been designed for NGOs and civil society networks working to promote change within the forest sector. It provides an opportunity for participants to examine the social, cultural and political context of civil society in their countries and to enhance their effectiveness as a force for change, individually, organisationally and collectively.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe and critique different understandings of the role, value and function of Civil Society.
  • Identify different types and levels of civil society actors in their context and map the interactions between them.
  • Identify entry points for participation and influence in their national governance structures.
  • Evaluate the essential skills and qualities of a good representative
  • Identify the key challenges of representation and strategies for overcoming them.
  • Describe and assess the practical implications of various accountability relationships for their organisation.
  • Identify practical opportunities for collaboration and collective advocacy based on an enhanced appreciation of local civil society networks.
  • Develop a clearly structured advocacy/campaign strategy
  • Demonstrate effective negotiation and influencing skills;
  • Network more effectively on behalf of their constituencies;
  • Engage effectively with the media to influence change.