Civic Engagement Alliance

Partnership for equality and justice

We believe that civil society organizations are paramount for an equal and just society. The Civic Engagement Alliance is a joint collaboration between Dutch and Southern civil society organizations to contribute to inclusive development, reaching the most vulnerable members of society. The name of its programme is “Strategic Partnership for Dialogue and Dissent”.  

The alliance is made up of trade unions, education and development organizations that have a link to (Christian) organizations and constituencies in the Netherlands and other similar international networks. The alliance’s members contribute their expertise in the fields of inclusive development, capacity development, labour rights, strengthening small-scale farmers, vocational training and working with the private sector, with a focus on the agri-food sector.  

Website Civic Engagement Alliance

Strengthening local voices

Local organizations enable voices to be heard, especially those of women, youth, small-scale farmers and workers, people living with disabilities, indigenous and other groups that are often excluded. Globally, however, local organizations are losing space and the opportunity to express themselves. The alliance seeks to strengthen them so that they can influence government policy and follow its implementation with a critical eye.


The Civic Engagement Alliance is a joint collaboration between 11 Dutch organizations in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The organizations are: CNV Internationaal, Edukans, ICCO Cooperation, Kerk in Actie, Prisma, Wilde Ganzen, Woord en Daad, Light for the World, Leprazending, Red een Kind and Tear.
The programme runs from 2016 to the end of 2020.

    What does the alliance do?

    The alliance focuses on four subjects:

    1. Space for civil society

    Strengthening the position of civil-society organizations: trade unions, self-help groups, farmers’ cooperatives and faith-based organizations.

    2. Promotion of sustainable and inclusive food systems and consumption

    Improving the position of marginalized farmers, drawing attention to consumers, especially women, young people and indigenous groups who face difficulty in securing access to sufficient and nutritious food. The priorities here are access to natural resources, and awareness, knowledge and practices related to healthy diets.

    3. Position of small-scale farmers and producers & inclusive market systems

    Strengthening the position of small-scale farmers and producers so that, in addition to being self-sufficient, they also contribute to sustainable farming. This includes access to means of production such as seed, finance and skills training.

    4. Responsible entrepreneurship

    Strengthening companies’ awareness of and involvement in international corporate social responsibility and respecting labour rights within production and value chains: good working conditions, living wage and equal rights.

    Countries where the Civic Engagement Alliance is active

    Map CEA partnership

    How does the alliance go about this?

    The Civic Engagement Alliance:

    • enhances the lobbying capacity of civil society organizations in the South; 
    • influences the policies of businesses and government in the Netherlands, and does this together with local organizations in the South;
    • exerts influence on European and global governments through its European and international networks (including ACT Alliance, Concord, International Trade Union Confederation, Global Campaign for Education, World Council of Churches, ILO Global Business and Disability Network);
    • works towards inclusive development by mobilizing a large and diverse network, from grassroots to international level

    Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)

    The Alliance bases its activities on the Sustainable Development Goals that were agreed on in 2015. The programme contributes to SDGs:

    No PovertyZero HungerGood health and well-beingGender EqualityDecent work and economic GrowthReduces InequalitiesResponsible Consumption and ProductionPeace Justice and strong InstitutionsPartnerships for the goals

    Examples of projects

    India: Space for civil society

    In India the Alliance works with its local partner VANI (Voluntary Action Network India, a network of 10,000 non-governmental organizations) to strengthen local organizations so that they comply with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). This Act requires NGOs to obtain a license in order to receive foreign financing. Local organizations receive training in professionalization of their organizational structure, systems and processes so that they comply with the legal requirements.   

    Capacity strengthening with Change the Game Academy

    Local partners in eight countries participate in the Change the Game Academy, where they receive training in lobbying & advocacy. Local trainers are trained and training material is adjusted to make it relevant to the local situation and the focus of the Civic Engagement Alliance. Particular attention is paid to making trainings accessible to people with disabilities.

    Indonesia: Better working conditions for plantation workers

    In Indonesia the Alliance works together with the trade union organization HUKATAN to improve the working conditions of labourers on palm-oil plantations and in the horticultural sector (tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers). The activities are devoted to raising companies’ awareness about working conditions and improving the government’s labour policy.

    Bolivia: Job opportunities for young Bolivians

    In Bolivia the Alliance supports the lobbying activities of the Manq’a cookery schools in El Alto. The schools seek recognition from the government for their training courses and lobby businesses for improved working conditions.  Despite having better professional training, it is still very difficult for young people to find a decently paid job, while training requirements continue to rise.  

    Ethiopia: Better policy through action research

    In southern Ethiopia data has been collected from a sample of 90 rural groups (representing about 23,000 households) on diet, income, the position of women and family members with special needs, and access to finance and the local market. The data is being analysed and used by the groups to engage in dialogue with local authorities and businesses.

    ICCO International uses cookies We use cookies to make your experience of our website better. Please indicate whether you can consent to us using cookies. Our cookies policy explains what cookies are and how we use them