CLAES organized a 3-day workshop on civil society and access to the global arena. The learning workshop, entitled “Changing Windows into Doors”, together with the global society program of the Ford Foundation. Furthermore, the event was sponsored by the Uruguayan ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture and Education, and included participants from more than 14 countries, representing both civil society and academia. The meeting took place in Punta Ballena, a small summer resort near Punta del Este, in southeastern Uruguay.
The main objectives of the workshop were to examine, through the different experiences of all participants, the distinct barriers that civil society faces to enter the global political arena, and to find ways of overcoming those barriers. Among the participants were well known scholars like Barry Carin (Center for Global Studies, University of Victoria), Jan Aart Scholte (Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization, University of Warwick), but also key actors in global civil society organizations and movements, like Joel Bolnick (International Institute Environment and Development), Anriette Esterhuysen (Association Progressive Communications), Ziad Abdel Samad (Arab NGO Network on Development), and Ramesh Sing, (Action Aid).
Some of the main outcomes of the meeting were the excellent exchange and interaction between academics and practitioners, including analysis on the current dynamics of the global arena, and the external and internal barriers existent for global civil society to fully engage in global governance. All participants presented an overview based on their own experiences facing global issues. Furthermore, participants addressed possible outcomes to move beyond these barriers.
Lisa Jordan, of Ford Foundation, in welcoming the participants stressed the importance to analyze and look for new alternatives on how civil society engages in global processes. Furthermore, Eduardo Gudynas, of CLAES, in his moderation of the closing session highlighted the quality of the analysis, particularly how different participants went deep in their review of current practices within civil society.