Breaking Ground and Taking Root: The Istanbul Principles @ 7


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The Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) is convening Breaking Ground and Taking Root: The Istanbul Principles @ 7 in Bangkok, Thailand on March 30-31, 2017.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) contribute in unique and essential ways to development as innovative agents of change and social transformation.  CSOs are channels for social solidarity, service and mobilization to enable people to better claim their rights to improve conditions of life and to build a democratic society.

Acknowledging not only their contributions, but also their weaknesses and challenges as development actors, CSOs have affirmed their commitment to take action to improve and be fully accountable for their development practices. CSO development effectiveness speaks to the impact of CSO actions for development.

CSOs are effective as development actors when they enhance the ways they learn from their experience, from other CSOs and development actors, integrating evidence from development practice and results, including the knowledge and wisdom of local and indigenous communities, strengthening innovation and their vision for the future they would like to see.

- Istanbul Principle No. 7

2010 marked the historic adoption of the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness by almost 200 CSOs from 82 countries representing various constituencies.   These Principles constitute a statement of common values and approaches to guide CSO work, adaptable to highly diverse country contexts and different CSO approaches. The  ‘Istanbul Principles (IP)’ are the result of a three-year process of outreach and consultations with over 3500 CSOs across the globe. The IPs are the foundation of the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness, endorsed in 2011 in Siam Reap, Cambodia, which sets out guidance for interpreting and aligning CSO practices with the IPs in diverse local and sectoral settings.

Civil society actors are profoundly affected by the context in which they work. The policies and practices of all governments affect and shape the capacities for CSOs to engage in development. Progress in realizing the Istanbul Principles in CSO practice, therefore, depends in large measure on enabling government policies, laws and regulations consistent with the Istanbul Principles.

Seven years down the line, civil society has made strides in improving their effectiveness and accountability. These, they did, despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly and alarmingly difficult for CSOs to realize their full potentials as development actors.  The context with which CSOs find themselves in is one, if not the greatest challenge, that prevents CSOs from fully seeing through the Istanbul Principles.

Despite the rhetoric on multi-stakeholder partnerships and increasing recognition of the role of civil society in development, spaces and opportunities for meaningful dialogue and engagement are actually closing at the global, regional, and national levels. Laws that restrict CSOs activities are being put in place, negatively impacting development workers in both South and North especially for those working on human rights, environmental rights, and gender equality. Fundamental civil liberties and human rights are severely under threat, if not under outright attack.

At the second High Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Development Effectiveness (GPEDC), CSOs have committed to strengthen their implementation of the Istanbul Principles, particularly those relating to transparency, mutual accountability, country-level ownership of initiatives, including participation, empowerment, and the pursuit of equitable partnerships. CSOs also face the challenge of further stepping up their initiatives on the Istanbul Principles to further contribute to effective development cooperation in the context of the Agenda 2030. The role of CSOs in the implementation, monitoring, and review is crucial in ensuring that the A2030 will respond to the people’s aspirations for democratic development and planetary sustainability. Thus, CSOs are once again challenged to demonstrate and improve their own development effectiveness in the context of the A2030.

 Breaking Ground and Taking Root: The Istanbul Principles @ 7 is envisaged as a space to infuse renewed energy into civil society effectiveness and accountability. It is a space for CSOs to reflect on their successes, assess the new landscape, and together, chart common strategies and mobilize constituencies to advance the gains that CSOs have achieved in being recognized as independent development actors, while strengthening efforts to improve the effectiveness and quality of CSO development work.

 CPDE invites applications from civil society organizations globally to work with others to:

  • Share and exchange their experiences and exchange lessons in advancing their effectiveness and accountability as development actors;
  • Demonstrate the outcomes of efforts to promote the Istanbul Principles and the International Framework;
  • Reflect on the outcomes of the GPEDC 2nd High Level Meeting, especially on commitments made by different actors in the partnership, including civil society, in the Nairobi Outcome Document;
  • Agree on joint plans and actions to promote, uphold and further implement the Istanbul Principles to strengthen CSO development effectiveness and accountability at country level. 
Day 1
Day 2
Day 1
Time Activity
8.00-9.00 Registration
9.00-9.30 Keynote Addresses
  • The Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness and Agenda 2030: The continued relevance of civil society in development
  • Wanted and Wanting: An Enabling Environment for Development Effectiveness
9.30-10.30 Session 1
Walking the talk: Civil society as accountable development actors

This opening session aims to generate a discussion on the state of CSO accountability: What are the different initiatives and how do these complement each other? What have been achieved? What are the challenges? How do we move forward?
10.30-11.00 Coffee/Tea Break
11.00-12.00 Session 2
Under the Lens: Views on CSO effectiveness

This session aims to have an interactive talk show-type discussion with other actors on their views of civil society’s effectiveness as development actors.

Note: Aside from accepting questions from the floor, this session can be made more interactive by an app wherein which the audience can answer questions from the talk show host and tally the scores immediately.
12.00-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.00 Session 3
Implementation, implementation: taking the effectiveness challenge forward

This aims to present and debate on the implications of the outcomes of the GPEDC HLM2, including civil society commitments, and how to move these forward.
15.00-15.30 Tea Break
15.30-17.30 Session 4
Simultaneous Self-Organized Workshops on the following Istanbul Principles themes:
  • Human Rights, Gender Equality and Equity
  • Environmental Sustainability and Sustainable Change
  • People’s empowerment, democratic ownership and participation
  • CSO transparency and accountability
  • Equitable partnerships, solidarity and commitment to mutual learning
17.30 –18.00 Call for volunteers: Bangkok CSO Unity Statement
19.00-21.00 Solidarity Dinner Book Launch
Day 2
Time Activity
8.00-9.00 Registration
9.00-10.30 Session 5
Critical conditions for enabling CSO Development Effectiveness

The session aims to debate on the different aspects of an enabling environment for CSO Development Effectiveness, with a reference to how far or slow progress in these areas outlined in the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness.
17.00-18.00 Coffee Break
11.00-12.30 Session 6
Simultaneous Self-Organized Workshops on:

  • Building the Country Compacts for CSO Development Effectiveness and Accountability
  • Resourcing CSO Development Effectiveness and Accountability: Overcoming challenges in funding and North-South CSO relations
12.30-14.00 Lunch/Presscon
14.00-16.00 Sectoral and Regional Caucuses (with coffee/tea break)
16.00-17.00 Session 7
Stepping Up and Moving Forward

This plenary session aims to have a report back and discussion of the outcomes of the workshops.
17.00-18.00 Presentation and Deliberation: Bangkok CSO Unity Statement Closing

Download complete information here.


CPDE welcomes the application of participants from civil society organizations from the different global regions. 

Representatives from provider governments and development partners will also be invited.

Full and partial subsidy covering airfare, accommodation and a modest daily subsistence allowance (DSA) will be available for a limited number of organizations with prioritization for participants from the global south, as well for speakers and resource persons. If needing funding to attend, please ensure that you indicate this in your application.

 Workshops and exhibitions on themes relevant to the Istanbul Principles may be organized independently – if interested, please express your interest and coordinate with the CPDE Conference Secretariat (Contact information is given at the end of this document.)

How to apply

Submit the application form online (click here) by latest 28 February 2017 (12 midnight Philippine time). Application forms will be reviewed by CPDE in consultation with the regional and sectoral focal points, prioritizing those who best fit the target group described, and to ensure balance in geographic and thematic representation, scope of mandate, gender, and the level of experience among other factors. Notification on the status of the applications will be sent by 6 March 2017.

Marjorie Pamintuan (
Andrew Zarate (

Global Online Exchange Platforms

Hashtags: #IP7TakingRoots #IstanbulPrinciples #Accountability2People

Twitter handles: @CSOPartnership_

Facebook page:


Key Messages

  • Our message to our peers in civil society:
    • The Istanbul Principles remain relevant to CSOs meaningful contribution to the fulfillment of Agenda 2030. Realization of this duty, however, is challenged by shrinking CSO space which necessitates a redefinition of accountability and effectiveness of all actors in development cooperation.
  • Our message to government and donors
    • Developing civic spaces are crucial in the effectiveness of CSOs in fully implementing Agenda 2030.
    • Commit to leaving no one behind. Processes need to be truly democratic and equal to all actors if poverty eradication and reducing inequalities in countries and between countries is to be a reality.

Read more about the Istanbul Principles, the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness, and other relevant documents and toolkits here.


Come and Join the Istanbul@7 Grand Bazaar!

Sukosol Hotel | Bangkok, Thailand 30-31 March 2017

Contact person:

Participants are invited to bring publications, exhibits, products for sale or for distribution at the Istanbul@7 Grand Bazaar! Spaces with tables and chairs will be provided to those interested to showcase their initiatives and share learnings with other organizations during the conference. Please fill up this for to apply for a space.

Bangkok Unity Statement

Bangkok, Thailand – March 31, 2017

We, civil society organisations (CSOs) from around the world, have gathered in Bangkok alongside representatives of our partners in national governments and international institutions, to mark the seventh anniversary of the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness.

CSOs contribute in unique and essential ways to development as innovative agents of change and social transformation. CSOs are channels for social solidarity, service, and mobilisation. CSOs implement, monitor, and review effective development cooperation. CSOs enable people to better claim their rights, to improve conditions of life, and to build a democratic society.

In 2010, almost 200 CSOs from 82 countries unanimously adopted the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness. These Principles constitute a statement of common values and approaches to guide CSO work, adaptable to highly diverse country contexts and different CSO approaches. They represent a meaningful commitment by CSOs to the practical implementation of the four development effectiveness principles (democratic ownership, focus on results, inclusive partnerships, and transparency and accountability).

This workshop in Bangkok has been inspired by the seventh Principle, by which CSOs pledge to create and share knowledge and commit to mutual learning. These meetings have represented an important opportunity to take stock of where CSOs have been successful in being accountable for, and effective in, their development practices. CSOs and other stakeholders have been candid in evaluating their experiences with the Istanbul Principles. We have celebrated where implementation has been successful, and acknowledged where further work and greater progress are needed.

Read and download full statement here. 

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