The Challenge

Civil society plays a critical role in driving action to address the climate emergency. Yet the sector is facing complex challenges, including increased scrutiny and shifting regulatory goal-posts. We find ourselves squeezed for time, resources and the space we need to have systemic impact. This risks our resilience as individuals, organisations and as a sector, and therefore jeopardises our ability to play our role in climate mitigation, adaptation, justice and resilience.

This shrinking of the civil society space is being felt acutely in India, a country on the front line of climate change. The pandemic has hit the sector hard, and yet also reaffirmed the essential role it can play. Very few climate-related civil society organisations (CSOs) have the time or structured support required to think current and future operations and impacts through, and even fewer have time to do this as a collective for the sector. 

How might we apply our Futures and systems change knowledge to collaboratively build the resilience of the climate action civil society sector here in India through and out the other side of the pandemic?

Our solution

To build resilience, you need to understand what risks and opportunities may emerge as the future evolves, and be ready for them. But our complex future is more impossible than ever to predict or prepare for. 

Forum for the Future, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, has been facilitating a participatory process for climate action civil society organisations (CSOs) in India, in order to explore the different possible trajectories we could take out of COVID-19 and to prepare in such a way that builds resilience and amplifies collective impact given the trends impacting the civil society space.

Together with an active cohort of 25 civil society organisations, we set out to:

  • Develop an understanding of different possible trajectories society could take from today, thus building capability in leading through change and uncertainty;
  • Support CSOs in exploring responses to the risks and opportunities for their programmes and organisations in each trajectory, thus increasing their resilience and enabling continued impact;
  • Develop a shared vision of resilience for the climate action civil society sector, and thus creating a shared sense of direction and understanding of how each organisation contributes and aligns to the wider systemic goal;
  • Collectively identify the priority strategic questions that arise from this discontinuity and its learnings, and potential responses that will enable greater impact, identifying those most ripe for collective action within and beyond the CSO community, ready to be taken forward in subsequent initiatives.

Resources to help you consider your organisational and sectoral resilience

We have developed a set of resources that will enable organisations and sectors to examine and plan for long term resilience:

  • Our common vision of a resilient climate action civil society here in India - an inspiring resource that can act as our collective guiding star and a prompt for organisations and sectors wanting to understand what setting up for resilience could look like
  • Our diagnosis of the factors that are challenging that resilience and are therefore key opportunity areas - Insights that can be used to assess and understand what might be undermining your resilience and therefore are opportunities for individual and collective action
  • A resource pack for anyone wanting to explore their own sectoral resilience - a resource that walks you through the process we used so that you too can learn from our experience and approach

We would welcome any feedback on these resources, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For any questions or queries regarding the program, please get in touch with Hansika Singh at [email protected]

Who’s involved

Supported by MacArthur Foundation