Over the past few decades, the Latin American and Caribbean region has seen significant changes that have modified in an unprecedented way the form in which actors join forces to advance development in the region. The evolution shown by the engagement between civil society, governments, and the private sector, has led to social innovation, understood as a participatory process that includes the creation, incorporation, and dissemination of new social practices. The transformations have been spurred, among other things, by the combination of four different factors: 1. Digital transformation 2. Progress in strengthening governance 3. Empowerment of the middle class 4. A new engagement between Civil Society and the Private Sector. Faced with these new scenarios, the IDB Group has also adapted to be able to give efficient responses to the region and provide civil society with tools that will enable the advancement of development opportunities. Accordingly, it seeks to maximize opportunities through 5 specific lines of action built around 1) information actions, 2) dialogues through forums and thematic round tables, 3) public consultations aligned with the local legal and regulatory frameworks, 4) cooperation through activities aimed at developing knowledge products and technical training for members of civil society and 5) partnerships that fund projects or project components through external human and financial resources.
From a strategic perspective, the Bank has been furthering its relationship with civil society. In other words, the initially more informative relationship that included civil society in governance decision-making has evolved into an approach in which civil society is a player in development opportunities. Our experience has taught us that an effective link with civil society has the potential to transform project design and significantly help adjust strategies for sustainable growth. Over the last few years we have advanced initiatives and operations in which civil society has played a role. We have also launched digital tools like WiConnect3, the geo-referenced platform that gives visibility to the work carried out by civil society organizations (CSOs) in their territories and fields of action. This tool, in turn, allows us ”to identify new development opportunities, learn who leads the way in terms of new developments in the region, and bring in key actors for our development strategies… we seek to mobilize external human and financial resources so that we can reach target populations and remote or low-connectivity areas we currently have no access to and we need intermediary organizations to do so.” (Flavia Milano)
In addition, the IDB has launched a Civil Society Institutional Capacity Program to gather the necessary support to create sustainable development projects. Thousands of training scholarships have already been awarded in 26 countries under this program and efforts are now focusing on expanding training offers to support the sustainability of the initiatives advanced by CSOs.