- Enhanced capacity of CSOs to collaborate with each other and engage in participatory governance.
- Increased collaboration and learning between CSOs and institutions in governance.
- providing support at various levels of the participatory governance system
- following a systematic process of CD that leads to sustainability
- utilising effective CD delivery methodologies, and
- promoting knowledge sharing and learning as an important aspect of social transformation in bringing about locally owned changes to advance a particular development.
- promoting knowledge sharing and learning
- systematically supporting replication of good and fit practices
- documenting and disseminating knowledge resources
- developing a communications strategy to increase awareness
- and understanding of the benefits of participatory
- governance, and
- maximising technology to enable meaningful learning and
- an assessment framework to guide the replication of good practice
- a core pool of mentors from participating civil society networks/alliances to promote replication
- the spaces in which to share good practice, and
- incentives to promote participation for more effective, responsive and accountable governance.
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Tel: +44 20 7930 3783
Fax: +44 20 7839 8157
Chair: Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM QSO
Director: Vijay Krishnarayan
Deputy Director: Myn Garcia
The Commonwealth Foundation is a development organisation with an international remit and reach, uniquely situated at the interface between government and civil society. The Foundation develops the capacity of civil society to act together and learn from each other to engage with the institutions that shape people’s lives. It strives for more effective, responsive and accountable governance with civil society participation, which contributes to improved development outcomes.
Established in 1965, the Commonwealth Foundation is one of the Commonwealth’s three intergovernmental agencies and is principally funded by assessed contributions made by its 47 member governments. The assessed contributions, along with other income such as project-specific grants to the Foundation, provide the resources for the annual budget, which is approved by the Executive Committee and endorsed by the Board of Governors.
A world where every person is able to fully participate in and contribute to the sustainable development of a peaceful and equitable society.
To develop the capacity of civil society to act together and learn from each other to engage with the institutions that shape people’s lives.
Commonwealth Foundation relaunch
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, leaders committed to the reform of Commonwealth institutions. They established the Eminent Persons Group, which highlighted the importance of civil society organisations to the future of the Commonwealth. In their final report they made several recommendations on the ways in which the Foundation could support this constituency. When the report was received in Perth, Australia, in 2011, Commonwealth Heads of Government committed to:
promote the future of the Commonwealth through the strong and important voice of its people by … relaunching the Commonwealth Foundation in 2012, while retaining its fundamental intergovernmental nature and maintaining its accountability to member states, with a revised mandate and Memorandum of Understanding so that it can more effectively deliver the objectives of strengthening and mobilising civil society in support of Commonwealth principles and priorities.
The Commonwealth Foundation relaunched on 1 November 2012. Responding to this mandate, a new strategic plan marks the beginning of a third phase in the evolution of the Foundation.
It breaks new ground for the organisation, signalling a determination to apply more focus, rigour and an outcomes orientation to its work.
The Commonwealth Foundation website offers a wide range of knowledge resources that share good practices and success stories (www.commonwealthfoundation.com/knowledgehub).
The Commonwealth Foundation monthly e-newsletter provides regular project updates, calls for proposals and announcements. Sign up today at:
Strategic plan 2012-16
The plan focuses the Foundation’s activities on strategic participatory governance outcomes: to develop the capacity of civil society to participate; and to strengthen collaboration and learning between civil society organisations (CSOs) and institutions in governance. This speaks to the Foundation’s unique proposition as an intergovernmental organisation able to work directly with its member state institutions, while encouraging and enabling civil society.
The plan coincides with the introduction of results-based management (RBM) at the Foundation. RBM will enable the Foundation to demonstrate to its stakeholders that it is making a difference in pursuit of Commonwealth principles and priorities by placing an emphasis on clearly defined and measurable results.
More effective, responsive and accountable governance with civil society participation.
The Commonwealth Foundation’s strategic plan 2012-16 is based around the following programming strategies.
The Foundation adheres to the principle that the individual, organisations and institutions involved should own and manage their own Capacity Development (CD) and use methodologies that contribute to sustainability. The Foundation facilitates this process by:
Knowledge Management: building a culture of learning and performance
Knowledge Management (KM) serves as an overarching approach in the development and the implementation of the Foundation’s Strategic Plan for 2012-16. It offers the Foundation a discipline and a central strategy to ensure sustainability by:
Mainstreaming cross-cutting outcome areas
The strategic plan highlights three cross-cutting outcome areas:
gender equality; environmental sustainability; and cultural respect and understanding. These are integrated in the design and implementation of the Foundation’s programming. Mainstreaming these cross-cutting areas ensures that they are integral parts of the Foundation’s planning, budgeting, programming, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Promoting synergy and co-ordination
The Foundation, as an outcome-based organisation, can only make progress in fulfilling its mission and achieving the stated outcomes included in its strategic plan by working in partnership with other organisations, both public and private. The Foundation is committed to development effectiveness, and it is therefore imperative to co-ordinate and synergise its work with multilateral agencies such as the United Nations, international development agencies and the Commonwealth family.
Commonwealth Foundation projects are grouped under four strategic areas:
Developing dialogue for engagement in participatory governance
Strengthening the knowledge, skills and ability of civil society networks and alliances to engage in dialogue with governance institutions and other key stakeholders.
This strategic area will assess the current capacity of civil society networks/alliances for dialogue, identify a credible civil society network/alliance, and implement a CD plan. This CD plan may include training, mentoring and coaching on dialogue, communications for development and leadership development, to enhance the capacity of civil society to participate in promoting effective, responsive and accountable governance.
Developing capacities to replicate good practice on participatory governance
Building the capacity of civil society networks and alliances to identify and replicate good practice, enabling the development of proven solutions to common challenges.
This strategic area will strengthen the ability of civil society to effectively contribute to participatory governance processes. Civil society networks/alliances will be supported to develop their own criteria for identifying, documenting and replicating good and fit practice. The strategies for achieving this employ the development of:
Facilitating collaboration in participatory governance
Supporting the opportunities for engagement between civil society organisations and institutions in governance, and strengthening strategic co-ordination with Commonwealth intergovernmental organisations (IGOs).
The strategies for achieving this will employ a mapping of the current civil society engagement environment, exploration of the platforms that offer the most effective opportunities for civil society engagement, targeted support to improve the ways in which CSOs are able to participate in governance, and strengthening strategic co-ordination with Commonwealth IGOs.
Building a culture of learning in participatory governance
Promoting knowledge sharing and learning by documenting and disseminating knowledge resources, good practices and success stories.
This strategic area will engage with media for development as partners in advocating for good governance. Stakeholders will also be engaged with on governance issues where there is minimal knowledge and contribute to increasing awareness and understanding of, and demand for, efficient, responsive and accountable governance.
For the latest information visit: www.commonwealthfoundation.com/projects
The Commonwealth Foundation disburses UK£1 million in grants funding each year. Its grants programme contributes to sustainable development in the context of effective, responsive and accountable governance with civil society participation. The programme brokers knowledge and ideas. It supports innovation and sharing of replicable and sustainable models, while promoting good practice in participatory governance.
Participatory governance grants
Participatory governance is about how the state, the market and civil society interact to effect change. These interactions involve the inclusion of civil society in decision-making processes, enabling citizens to exercise voice and vote, and engage in policy formation.
The Commonwealth Lecture has become one of the most prestigious events in the Commonwealth calendar. It aims to stimulate understanding, discussion and debate on the Commonwealth, its role in world affairs, its institutions and its cultures. Distinguished speakers from around the world have offered their personal observations and thoughts in the Commonwealth Lecture on issues of importance to the global community. By so doing, they have helped to challenge established orthodoxies, advance new ideas, and mobilise the political will needed to deliver real change in the lives of Commonwealth citizens.
The 2012 lecture was given by multiple prize-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the theme ‘Connecting Cultures’.
Ricken Patel, founding president and executive director of Avaaz, delivered the 16th Commonwealth Lecture in March 2013, on the theme ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’. Avaaz is a web-based campaigning movement that has grown rapidly since 2007 into the largest online activist community in the world at 20 million members in 194 countries.