3 new lessons from our Inspiration Council on Civic Power

The Inspiration Council is there to point out important trends, challenges and opportunities in the field of innovation and development.

The Inspiration Council is there to point out important trends, challenges and opportunities in the field of innovation and development. In our latest meeting we discussed trends on activism and civic space, and what that means to the development cooperation.

‘Civic Space is growing these days – but we should also consider in which directions’ – Simone Veldema, Service Designer & Owner @ GreenbizStartups

‘I’m confused!’, Simone says. ‘If you follow the narrow definition, the Ku Klux Klan is also an example of civic power.’ Whereas some believe the civic space to be a good thing (one that needs to grow and not to shrink), the forces in our current civic space are not necessarily for the good. Civic space may be growing these days, if you listen to the amount of people that speak out to the forces in power. ‘In some ways the room to exert civic power is huge – but maybe we do not like the voices we hear. These things go hand-in-hand.

‘Civic space is the arena in which people take action for betterment of community, or nation or planet.’ – Clara Bosco, Freelance advisor at CIVICUS

In reaction to Simone’s remark, Clara responds that the innate character of civic space is to contribute to people’s forces for betterment of common interest. Civic space consists of three freedoms (the freedom of association, the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression) and the duty of the state to protect these freedoms. The Civicus Monitor provides the status of civic space in 133 countries. The monitor is updated every day.

“We do not talk enough to the local knowledge base. CEOs follow trends and perceptions. We need to engage more with the rural people.” – Kinsuk Mani Sinha, Prins Claus post-doc on frugal innovation ISS

Kinshuk referred to the event in which the president of India awarded farmers (selected by their own villages) for being exceptionally innovative. There was a great consensus on involving people in the field and not considering the topic of civic power as a mere theoretical exercise. ‘Governments as well as other groups engage in co-creation of policies. It is not top down or bottom-up but circular, horizontal co-creation’, Elien Rogaar of Perspectiviy added.

All Inspiration Council input was logged and will be used for The Spindle Trends report, ‘New Waves in Civic Power’. Estimate publication time: pre-summer.

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