Civil society organizations play significant roles in Caribbean communities, with the range of services provided expanding from traditional community volunteer efforts to management of important social and natural resources and involvement in national and regional development initiatives. However, the effectiveness of the civil society sector in the Caribbean is constrained by inadequate resources, insufficient intra-sector collaboration, and barriers to participation in national and regional decision-making processes.

The Foundation for Development Planning, Inc, for the purposes of this civil society program, adopts the definition of civil society articulated in the 2004 report of the United Nations Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations.

Civil society: Refers to the associations of citizens (outside their families, friends and businesses) entered into voluntarily to advance their interests, ideas and ideologies. The term does not include profit-making activity (the private sector) or governing (the public sector). Of particular relevance to the United Nations are mass organizations (such as organizations of peasants, women or retired people), trade unions, professional associations, social movements, indigenous people’s organizations, religious and spiritual organizations, academe and public benefit non-governmental organizations. (p. 13).

Areas of focus for the 2021-2031 program period are:

  1. Information exchange and collaboration within the civil society sector.
  2. Research and advocacy regarding the role and contribution of the civil society sector in Caribbean development.
  3. Capacity development for effective participation in national and regional development processes.

One activity under this program area is compilation of a directory of Caribbean regional civil society organizations, which is updated on an annual basis. The 2021 edition of the Directory is now available. Listed organizations are encouraged to keep their profiles updated, and Caribbean regional civil society organizations not currently in the Directory should submit their information using the appropriate form.

The FDPI is engaged in discussions within the civil society sector in the U.S. Virgin Islands regarding establishment of an association of nonprofit organizations.  The dialogue was initiated using a Discussion Paper that summarized the operating environment of the civil society sector in the Territory.