GPSA meets civil society leaders in Canada

Canada the GPSA PanelOn December 2, the GPSA was represented in a high-level meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Development of Canada, who showed interest in strengthening citizen voice in societies around the world. The discussion also touched upon ways for implementing social accountability in the extractive industries sector.


Aga Khan Foundation Canada, represented by its CEO Khalil Shariff, hosted the GPSA for a presentation and panel discussion to civil society, researchers and business leaders in Ottawa on the same day. Center of the discussion was the current state of civil society and recommendations for new perspectives on future engagement through social accountability. 


Paul Samson, Assistant Deputy Minister of Department of Foreign Affairs and Development of Canada was there to open the event. Addressing the audience, he explained how “Canada recognizes that civil society enables citizens to hold government to account, thereby contributing to aid effectiveness.” He underlined the importance of collaborating across actors and sectors and learning from each other’s experiences.


Roby Senderowitsch, Program Manager of the GPSA presented on some of the major trends and challenges for social accountability including: acting politically; engaging constructively; taking the longer route of social accountability; building trust among citizens; and developing financially sustainable models of engagement.


Leading on from this, Almudena Ocejo, from Mexican CSO and GPSA partner CCS CIESAS, talked about some of the challenges faced by those who are practicing social accountability. Syed Sajjad Rahman from the School of International Development and Global Studies in Ottawa University looked at broader trends and potential in civil society.


The discussion and questions touched on many relevant themes such as creating an enabling environment, how social accountability can operate within a country context that faces a closing space for civil society, and how to engage with government and understand their incentives.