The 2030 Agenda recognizes that the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can only be successful with strong global partnerships and cooperation. Civil society organizations (CSOs), due to their direct connection with poor, vulnerable and marginalized communities, are recognized as key partners in the successful implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

In the face of this increasingly urgent agenda, the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment (Task Team) commissioned a research study focused on the identification of factors that help and hinder the engagement of CSOs in the implementation of the SDGs. The study was undertaken by the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), a renowned higher education and research institute of social science that is part of Erasmus University Rotterdam under the leadership of the principle researchers Professors Kees Biekart and Alan Fowler. Key messages highlighted here are derived from the Synthesis Report coming out of this study. The report synthesizes evidence from 21 case studies in six countries, selected because of differences in their freedom or ‘space’ available for CSOs. The countries are: Costa Rica, Ghana, Hungary, Lao PDR, Nepal & Tanzania.

The research design applied an ‘SDG’ lens as the empirical way to find out about CSO experiences when facing different degrees of constraint. The below findings span open to closed civic spaces and are grouped according to each part of the Task Team’s FourPart Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness and a CSO Enabling Environment.