Estonia once again topped the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Index for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia for 2016, published by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Despite topping the ranking, however, Estonia was also among countries where a decline was noted following year of rapid development.
According to the results of the study, in recent years the vitality of the CSOs of several countries has declined, including in Russia, Macedonia and Hungary. At the same time, the results of the report indicate that activists are learning new ways to stand for the public interest, mobilize citizens and get funding for their operations. A good example of this is efficient protest movements in countries where the government has tried to reduce the civic space, such as in Poland.
Estonia has been at the top of the index for years, meaning it is the country with the most vital civil society. Private giving is becoming more ingrained in society and volunteerism is also on the rise. CSOs remain active advocates, demonstrating their ability to stand up for the interests of civil society, their communities and society at large. Perceptions of civil society have also shifted, with many regarding civic action as an integral oart of life, not just something relevant to CSOs.
In recent years, however, rapid development has stopped, and in the fresh ranking, Estonia's indicators have declined.
"The primary reason behind Estonian indicators declining is the drop in organizational capacity," said Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (EMSL) director Maris Jõgeva. "The gap between well-managed and less organized CSOs continued to grow. At the same time, new programs which could soon result in more innovation and impact for CSOs have been initiated in Estonia."
In the fresh index, Poland placed second after Estonia, while Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania followed. The viability of CSOs was deemed weakest in Belarus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
The annual report contains information about 29 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla