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Fixing the patchy collaboration between government and civil society

Female social worker shaking hands with a Government officer

Vinay Bhargava’s article explores the critical need for effective collaboration between governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite the initial agreement in 2015 that these goals require a joint effort, the UN's report highlights that the pace of progress is insufficient. Bhargava argues that while governments and CSOs often view each other as adversaries, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the necessity of cooperation. For instance, the Indian government’s collaboration with over 92,000 CSOs during the pandemic improved their collective response, demonstrating that shared objectives can bridge gaps and enhance impact.

The article further outlines eight insights for successful collaboration, emphasizing the need for mutual trust, shared incentives, and sustained investment in capacity building. Bhargava notes that both sides must understand the benefits of working together, from enhancing public trust to better addressing community needs. He stresses the importance of legislative frameworks, adequate funding for CSOs, and the risks of not engaging with civil society. Practical tips for fostering collaboration include focusing on common goals, maintaining regular dialogue, and adapting based on experience. Bhargava concludes that, with these strategies, governments and CSOs can effectively work together, making the SDGs achievable. Click here to read