Because Accountability matters: Localising the GS in the case of Latvia

By November 29, 2021 CSO Standard, NMedia

Elisa Lopez (Global Standard program manager) & Kristine Zonberga  (Director of Civic Alliance Latvia)

November 24, 2021

We have been talking about localization in aid for quite a long time. The practical use of the term has evolved as the sector continuously reflects on it. When the Global Standard for CSO Accountability (GS) was created, flexibility was one of its main priorities, recognizing that one size does not fit all; instead, users will be the experts of their own contexts. The Global Standard aims to guide tailor-made processes on how to embrace accountability in a dynamic way that builds trust through meaningful relationships that recognize different voices and where powers are rebalanced, using them in a more effective and just manner.

But how does it look in practice? This reference standard advancing global values includes the internal and external areas of an organisation/network and guides them towards improvement by using accountability as a lever of change.

The Latvia Example

To enhance effectiveness within the civil society sector in Latvia, the Civic Alliance Latvia self-assessed its own organisational practices vis-a-vis the Global Standard and received recommendations on how to improve them. Also, in 2020,  Civic Alliance Latvia participated in AGNA’s 90-Day Accountability Challenge. Now, they are ready to spread dynamic accountability practices within the Latvian civil society sector as well. Civic Alliance Latvia (CAL) is an umbrella organisation that unites 140 members (70% of all persons involved in NGOs in Latvia), whose aim is to strengthen civil society, support the common interests of CSOs and create a favorable environment for their operation in the country.

As Latvian civil society organisations (associations and foundations) are playing an increasingly important role in Latvia’s development, CAL´s goal becomes crucial for CSOs to play their part in a democratic society. Civil society organizations (CSOs) are now growing in members, attracting more and more funding, influencing/bringing about/informing important political developments, promoting social and environmental changes, as well as contributing to a more responsible and active civic society. Equipping civil society with the suitable capacities to involve all stakeholders in their work and to put people they serve at the core of decision making processes is vital to gain greater trust and resilience to achieve a long-term positive change in the country.

Within this context, CAL recently embarked on an accountability journey that adds to the existing efforts to attain its goal. Currently, it is coordinating the process of adapting the Global Standard to the Latvian language and context so that accountability is used as a lever of change. CAL will provide the space to co-create the adaptation of this framework to improve and guide CSOs to become more transparent, responsive, and accountable towards the people they work for and with, according to their own needs. Here are some steps already taken along this journey:

  • Explored Latvian CSOs’ interests to improve their accountability practices, and performed a different kind of accountability that allows organisations to listen, reflect and respond to those who they serve,providing better quality deliverables.
  • “Language, valadu, idioma.” Let us be honest here, accountability does not translate well in many languages as one equivalent word. Having a common understanding of what dynamic accountability is and how it can be put into practice is key to starting on common ground and aligning with perspective and focus. That is why CAL has made sure that a translator joins conversations where local organisations and the Global Standard’s Secretariat participated – as a first step to guarantee local participation and ownership.
  • Getting acquainted with the Global Standard and its tools. An introductory workshop was conducted where local and national organisations explored accountability in a dynamic way and how it could be implemented by using the Global Standard. Once again, it all started by participants jointly defining accountability and recognizing the value of accountability for their own work, and ended with ideas about how to continue their accountability journ As part of the following steps, CSOs will conduct self-assessments through the Rendir App, one of the tools within the Global Standard created by Rendir Cuentas.
  • Latvian CSOs being on the driver seat of their own accountability processes. Local and national civil society actors have already started leading their own approaches to practice dynamic accountability in their own After trying the current global or regionally available tools, they will be able to know more on how to develop the right guidelines to steer their own accountability…

Among future steps, we would like to highlight:

  • Deep dive into the content of the Global Standard. Assessing organisational practices vis-a-vis the Global Standard and developing improvement plans while using the guidance material can help organisations better understand how this can be put in practice. It will also help recognize if a different set of guidelines or recommendations must be adapted to address Latvian organizations’ specific needs.
  • Ownership and recognition of the power of a locally led initiative. The deep dive must be accompanied by parallel actions like translating documents and conducting consultations with a broader group of  local CSOs. It is vital to find out the extent to which such content resonates with them and the practices can be embedded within their organizations. Further, identifying champion organizations in the country for each commitment can provide more recommendations on how Latvian CSOs can make improvements while also fostering cooperation among them by giving additional support for putting them into practice.
  • First round of consultations with Latvian CSOs. After the self-assessment undertaken by CSOs and the translation made by Civic Alliance Latvia, there will be a round of consultations with Latvian CSOs to find the best way to contextualise and adapt Global Standard further.
  • Validation round. Once the collected are included and contents have been adapted according to the context… we will need to keep promoting learning from actual implementation.

Can you imagine how the localisation of the GS can happen in your context? If that is the case, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can imagine together and provide you with  the support that you need.


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