Citizen Voices Matter

February 10, 2017

This week, masses of Romanian citizens took to the streets to protest the roll-back of laws punishing corrupt politicians. As a result, the Government cancelled the planned changes. Last week, I was in Guatemala City, meeting with both government and civil society representatives working on the Open Government Partnership (known as “OGP”), an effort which is gradually showing results after years of effort. Again, citizen voices have been key to Guatemala’s early successes — building a groundswell of popular demand for transparency from their Executive Branch and elected representatives. At home — here in Washington, DC — I see American citizens in the streets demanding transparency from our highest elected officials and their appointees.

Three countries, three awakened citizenries — all caring about the long-term social and economic future of their countries. While this may not be comfortable, it is certainly healthy.

Citizens in Azerbaijan gather for a public demonstration


Counterpart’s role is to make sure that the social sector — citizens coming together to advance the social good — is strong, dynamic, inclusive, and visionary. We coach over 2,600 social sector organizations and more than 70 social sector networks around the world. We help them clarify their purpose, build and execute a strategy that can achieve an audacious social or economic goal, garner voices and coalitions, and measure and celebrate intermediate milestones that capture tangible progress and deliver much-needed momentum.

Sometimes, as in Romania, success is the absence of a bad decision. Our favorite successes, however, are when citizens bring forward tangible solutions that move the country forward; solutions that can be institutionalized in laws, regulations, and public institutions. This has been the core of Counterpart’s strategy: forging bonds between citizens and public officials around tangible solutions. We believe that only a strong civil society-public sector partnership leads to sustainable long-term social and economic outcomes.

These citizen-government partnerships are harnessing the voices of the next generation of political leaders, using technology to drive transparency, and aligning citizens with individuals within public institutions who believe in their country’s potential. At the core of Counterpart’s mission is our commitment to ensuring citizens’ voices are strong and organized, and that we partner with visionary public officials — around the world and right here in the United States. Our mutual long-term success depends upon it.

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