The index, called the Enabling Environment Index (EEI), was officially adopted by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. The EEI is the first rigorous attempt to measure and compare the conditions that affect the potential of citizens to participate in civil society, and it ranks the governance, socio-cultural and socio-economic environments of civil society in all the countries of the world.
“Despite countless promises from governments that they will protect civil society, the majority of citizens around the world live in environments in which they do not have the capacity to participate freely and fully in the activities, organisations and movements that seek to better their lives and improve their societies,” said Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS Secretary-General.
“In recent years we have seen popular uprisings, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, but we have also seen far too many crackdowns on the ability of citizens to mobilise. We wanted to create a tool that helps understand the conditions facing civil society in different parts of the world. Our index also helps identify countries where special attention needs to be paid to strengthening civil society by the international community,” said Sriskandarajah.
In terms of the EEI, New Zealand tops the list, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, while the Democratic Republic of Congo is rated worst in the EEI, followed by Uzbekistan, Iran, Burundi and Gambia.
“The three worst ranking African countries – DRC, Burundi and Gambia – are heavily dependent on aid flows. This means that donors have an important lever to improve conditions if they choose to use it, whether it is by working with governments or by directly supporting local civil society,” stated Sriskandarajah.
According to Prof Fioramonti, the EEI marks a watershed in how civic participation and civil society are measured around the world: "The EEI adopts a capability approach, similar to that of the Human Development Index, in the measurement of social progress around the world. It is the first time a non-Western, non-prescriptive and open-ended index is developed to measure the socio-economic, socio-cultural and governance conditions that support civic participation. The EEI provides a wealth of information organised in a 'dashboard', thus aligning itself with the most innovative trends in the field of political, social and economic research. Comparative civil society studies will no longer be the same after the EEI."
The new global index was launched at the UN General Assembly at the end of September 2013.
The EEI will also contribute to the global debate on the post-2015 global development goals and will be integrated in the new efforts to measure the attainment of critical development objectives throughout the world.
To access the index and final report, click here.