Paige Alexander with Alex Sardar, Chief of Party for Counterpart International, Armenia. Photo Credit: Patricia Adams, USAID

This week, I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion about progress, promise, and peril debating a generation of change for civil society in Europe & Eurasia. We were fortunate to be joined in Washington DC by prolific leaders: Doug Rutzen, President and CEO of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law; Nadia Diuk, Vice President for Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy; Pavol Demes, Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund; Alex Sardar, Chief of Party for Counterpart International-Armenia; and Iryna Bilous, Deputy Chief of Party for PACT Ukraine.

We enjoyed a rich dialogue on the transformation, challenges, and hope for civil society on the occasion of the launch of the 15th edition of the Non-Governmental Organization Sustainability Index – now called the Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI).  The CSOSI reports on the strength and overall viability of CSO sectors in each of the twenty-nine countries in the E&E region.  The Index highlights both advances and setbacks in sectoral development, and allows for comparisons across countries and sub-regions over time.

When I arrived in Prague for the first time in 1990, it was still Czechoslovakia. Civil society had power but lacked organization, structure, and sustainability. Visiting with my family again last year after 20 years, it was incredible to see Prague’s transformation into a vibrant city with dynamic and engaged civil society. As the CSOSI highlighted, organizations in the Czech Republic and several other countries are branching out to use new technologies for their fundraising and advocacy efforts.

We have seen tremendous success and positive trends tracked by the CSOSI over the last 15 years, and continue to witness less successful interventions. This region, and the trends that are highlighted in the CSOSI, are an incredible resource for lessons learned and best practices that can be applied globally from the Middle East to Latin America.

The conversation today with our incredible partners taught us what has and has not worked over the last 15 years and how we can apply that knowledge into the future success of civil society.