Civil Society Leaders Gather at PARTICIPATE Democracy Summit to Tackle the Strengthening of Democratic Spaces

Posted on May 12, 2023


INCITEGov and the Caucus of Development NGOs Networks (CODE-NGO) successfully co-convened a side-event, the forum on "Strengthening Democratic Spaces through Stronger Civil Society," as part of the PARTICIPATE Democracy Summit. The event brought together various democracy stakeholders on 11-12 May 2023 at Novotel Manila Araneta City, Cubao, Quezon City.


During the opening remarks, Sandino Soliman outlined the objectives of the forum, which included discussing the challenges faced by civil society organizations (CSOs) as countervailing voices in society. He highlighted issues such as political polarization within CSO groups, the dwindling sustainability of NGOs due to limited resources, shrinking civic space, red-tagging, and human rights violations committed against development workers. The forum aimed to inform participants about the politics, governance, and development framework while showcasing experiences in agenda building and trans-partisan campaigning in elections and post-elections.



Nearly fifty civil society leaders from NGOs, POs, democracy movements, youth groups, and academia attended the event. Mardi Mapa-Suplido, Chair of INCITEGov, delved into thought-provoking issues surrounding the role of civil society in politics, governance, and development. To kickstart her presentation, she conducted a quick survey that prompted participants to stand up if they responded positively to questions regarding their political participation and engagement.


Mapa-Suplido's presentation revolved around the P-G-D Theory of Change and drew lessons from civil society experiences in strengthening democratic spaces. She identified challenges based on past experiences and anticipated new democracy battlefronts in the future, shedding light on potential paths and roles for CSOs in political work. Additionally, the forum showcased the experience of CENVISNET in agenda building during the 2022 elections.



The plenary discussion generated meaningful deliberations on a range of topics. Participants explored how development workers can address burnout effectively and foster better management of creative collaborations not only among CSOs but also with other sectors. The ability of democracy to deliver development for the people and the crucial role of CSOs in ensuring inclusion and social equity were also thoughtfully examined.



In his closing remarks, Jose Deles, INCITEGov Trustee, expressed appreciation for the presence of young leaders at the forum and thanked all participants for engaging in a productive discussion. The event proved to be a valuable platform for civil society leaders to exchange ideas, share experiences, and forge stronger networks to strengthen democratic spaces and promote the well-being of communities.


The side-event forum organized by INCITEGov and CODE-NGO during the PARTICIPATE Democracy Summit showcased the commitment of civil society to actively participate in politics, governance, and development. As democracy faces new challenges and opportunities, the forum provided a space for dialogue and collaboration, highlighting the importance of civil society organizations in safeguarding democratic principles and advocating for the rights and welfare of all citizens.