The 2017 Global Partners Forum Report presents key takeaways from the conference in detail. A few highlights are summarized below.

Shrinking civic space, declining trust in institutions, poor access to publicly-held information, conflict, fragility and displacement around the world… These and other development challenges seem daunting to anyone. Yet to the 300+ representatives from civil society, academia, private sector, and government who recently gathered in Washington, D.C., it’s empowering citizens to work in collaboration with public authorities that can make a huge difference in addressing these challenges.

Under the theme of “Citizen Action for Open, Accountable and Inclusive Societies” they came together for the annual Partners Forum of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA), and for three days they grappled with the question of how citizen action can drive solutions to address the new frontiers for social accountability, such as conflict, fragility, and rapid changes in technology.

In a welcoming video-message, Jim Kim, President of the World Bank, spoke about the need for radical transparency to combat corruption. He said the GPSA and its partners had an important role in creating opportunities for citizens to work with authorities to solve governance problems, particularly in improving the delivery of basic services such as water, energy, health and education. 

 

 

Through eight plenaries and seventeen workshops, the GPSA Global Partners Forum provided a unique platform for knowledge sharing and learning. Many of the 38 GPSA grantees and over 300 Global Partners are implementing social accountability initiatives in partnership with governments worldwide to address performance and accountability challenges in service delivery, public procurement or other governmental processes.

Three overarching takeaways were drawn from the Forum. It reinforced the notion that the development field has understood the right of citizens to have a hand in their own development. Social accountability is a crucial way to achieve this, and it’s being supported by a critical mass of actors, networks, coalitions and organizations. Secondly, the Forum solidified the field’s thinking on the role of innovations and technology in social accountability, which, although not stand-alone solutions, are giving citizens vast opportunities for influence. When embedded properly in strategically designed social accountability projects, their role can be transforming. Thirdly, the Forum reaffirmed that the key value-add of social accountability was its ability to solve development challenges. Civil society actors must further develop their capacities to refine the role that they can play in this respect, as the challenges facing the field are continually getting more profound.