Healthy Civic Space in a Global Health Crisis - What Role for the Business Sector?

Date & Time: 1 July 2020, 14:00 - 15:00 BST

In many countries around the world the space for civil society has been shrinking for some time, and this trend has only increased as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Civic activism – such as the ability to meet, organise and advocate – has been made more difficult through lockdown measures. Checks and balances are being weakened while state surveillance has increased. At the same time, civil society has played a crucial role in community mobilisation to address urgent needs during this crisis – whether it be the provision of essential services, informing communities about the virus, or protecting marginalized groups.

With civil society under increased pressure, there is a need for all sectors of society – including the private sector – to support its work. In recent weeks we have seen technology, banking, apparel and entertainment companies issue messages of support for those demonstrating against police treatment of black people. There is a need to better understand how the private sector can engage with civil society actors to protect and defend their rights to mobilize citizens, protect liberty and press for transparency and accountability from governments.

This webinar will explore the impact of COVID-19 on civil society actors as well as the potential role of the private sector and other actors in supporting civic space. This will include ways in which businesses are collaborating with civil society organizations – including community groups – as well as providing support, financial and otherwise, for their efforts. The panel will draw on examples from developments in the Americas, Africa and the Asia-Pacific to discuss the potential opportunities but also the challenges that need to be overcome. The event will bring together a diverse group of participants, including civil society, private sector, academia, government and international institutions.