With no local body functional in the absence of elected representatives, the question of accountability and credibility has been a major issue in the earthquake reconstruction process. At a time when different stakeholders are searching for a way out, the opening of Nepal-EU Civil Society Forum holds out some promise.
Opened by ambassador of the European Union to Nepal Ms. Rensje Teerink, in the presence of representatives of the Parliament, National Reconstruction Authority, National Planning Commission and the diplomatic missions in Kathmandu on 23rd November, the Civil Society Forum is the 'first of its kind' response to the situation.
With the involvement of a large number of civil society members and the representatives of the authority and Nepal’s development partners, the forum aims to help accelerate the reconstruction work by making it more accountable and transparent.
More than 100 participants from the Civil Society, coming from different regions of Nepal, participated in the event. The Delegation of the European Union to Nepal organized the event in partnership with the NGO Federation of Nepal and the Association of International NGOs.
The organization of this forum is part of the CSO Roadmap developed in consultation with the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Nepal and approved by EU and its Member States in July this year. The CSO Roadmap exercise is a strategic plan developed by forging partnerships between the EU, its member states and the CSO and the respective governments in every country where the EU has signed some partnership agreements.
According to a press release issued by the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal, the EU has promoted for long the importance of a strong CSO for true democracy and dialogue and has issued a communication entitled, "The Roots For Democracy & Sustainable Development: Europe's Engagement With Civil Society in External Relations" in September 2012.
This communication has set aside three main priorities: promoting an enabling environment, promoting participation of CSO in policy making and dialogue and enhancing CSO capacities. The European Union believes that the CSO is important as it leads to a democratic process by enabling citizens to take an active part in the life of the society, engage in the policy dialogue of the nation and act for advocacy of the less voice-full in the society.
This forum focuses on how to promote an enabling environment for the civil society in Nepal. Its two specific objectives are to discuss around the roles and functions of the civil society in Nepal, its role for the development of the country on the one hand and the legal and institutional framework in place and their performances; available financial opportunities and the challenges around accessing and managing the resources as well as the future laws under preparation on the other hand.
This forum will be held on a regular basis as it serves as a platform for discussion and exchanges between the EU, it's Member States, the CSO and the Government of Nepal.