Open, accessible, and safe civic spaces are the cornerstones of a vibrant society where everyone can actively participate. Inclusive and meaningful participation in decision-making means inviting everyone to the table, especially those most marginalized, and ensuring they are heard and feel safe to speak openly (both in the digital realm and the non-digital). It also requires an independent media landscape that allows for diverse views, peaceful disagreement, and dissent.
Promoting civic engagement is integral to the work of UNDP across all signature solutions. This includes improving the enabling environment for civil society, strengthening civil society itself, ensuring there are spaces for non-state actors to influence decision-making processes, and creating an environment of transparency with healthy information ecosystems and access to information.
Through policy advice and programmatic support, UNDP promotes popular participation from all sectors of society in implementing and following up on the 2030 Agenda. It seeks to create inclusive spaces for civic engagement while strengthening the capacity of civil society actors to work in multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, financial resources, expertise, and technology. UNDP also works with countries to introduce or improve legislative or regulatory measures that advance the realization of fundamental freedoms related to civic space, especially freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.
This work also includes interventions that promote gender-equal political participation and women’s political empowerment. Specific and targeted activities are designed to ensure other groups often marginalized - people from Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBTI) communities, ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples – are included in decision-making processes.
Through its many projects and initiatives, UNDP seeks to remove barriers preventing the active and meaningful participation of specific population groups in governance, with an emphasis on women, and women organizations, movements and networks, young people, and youth organizations, movements and networks, and other historically marginalized population groups like persons with disabilities, displaced people and refugees. The barriers may include capacities (technical, financial, economic) and social norms.