World Assembly

Since 1995, the CIVICUS World Assembly has been a key international gathering for civil society, governments, donors and other stakeholders to engage constructively in finding common solutions to global challenges.

Timing Activity Speakers Description


  • Emele Duituturaga, Pacific Islands Association of NGOs
  • Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS
The opening welcome will set the scene for a day dedicated to celebrating inspiring stories of civic action and citizen participation.
9:30-9:45 Dance performance of section from “Are We Stronger than Winston” Vou Fiji This internationally renowned Fijian dance troupe will tell a story of climate change and resilience through the medium of contemporary dance and music.
9:45-10:35 Our planet. Climate justice in the 21st century - fighting not drowning
  • Joanna Kerr, Greenpeace Canada (Moderator)
  • May Boeve,
  • Dame Meg Taylor, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat
  • Yolanda Joab, climate change campaigner
This panel discussion will combine first-hand testimonials with expert analysis on the human rights implications of climate change. Participants will offer personal examples of the loss and damage caused by climate change, highlight efforts that are helping coastal communities adapt to rising sea levels, and examine policy shifts  needed to address climate change.
10:35-10:45 Launch of Declaration on Climate-Induced Displacement Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands (TBC) The CIVICUS World Assembly will see the launch of a global campaign to include provisions on climate-induced displacement in the forthcoming UN Global Compact on Migration. The presentation will highlight the need to build broad-based coalitions that bridge different sectors and interests, and the intersections between climate change and human rights.
10:45-10:50 Nelson Mandela Graça Machel Innovation Awards Video presentations by Graça Machel and Ernesto Zedillo on behalf of The Elders, #WalkTogether The annual Innovation Awards will be introduced in a video by Graça Machel, followed by a profile of the Youth Activist Award Winner.
10:50-11:20 In conversation with Helen Clark
  • Julia Sanchez, Canadian Council for International Co-operation (Moderator)
  • Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, UNDP Administrator, Candidate for UN SG in 2016
This interview-style conversation will discuss current global crises such as conflict, inequality and climate change. It will also focus on the role of women’s leadership, youth and civil society in resolving key global challenges.
11:20-11:30 CIVICUS Talk: The State of Civic Freedoms Cathal Gilbert, CIVICUS This talk will present an evidence-based view of the state of civic freedoms in the world today. We describe a civic space emergency extending across issues to all parts of the planet. But we also reveal the incredible resilience of civil society organisations and activists, who, even in the most difficult of circumstances continue to find new ways to organise, take action and speak out.
11:30-12:20 Our struggles: Building a global movement for change - challenges and oppor­­tunities.
  • Anabel Cruz, Rendir Cuentas (Moderator)
  • Miklos Marschall, Transparency International
  • Kumi Naidoo, Activist
  • Ingrid Srinath, Ashoka University
Past CIVICUS Secretary Generals will engage in a dialogue about the defining global issues and consequent civil society responses that shaped their tenures. The session will be an opportunity to discuss potentials for citizen participation in tackling contemporary geopolitical challenges in the struggle to create a just, inclusive and sustainable world.
12:20-12:25 Nelson Mandela Graça Machel Innovation Awards Video presentation by Mary Robinson on behalf of The Elders, #WalkTogether The Individual Activist Award Winner will be profiled.
12:30-14:30 World Café-style lunch CIVICUS Board-led discussions Participants will tackle the question of ‘how can civil society networks contribute to a more just, inclusive and sustainable world’ over a facilitated lunchtime conversation.
14:30-14:35 Nelson Mandela Graça Machel Innovation Awards Video presentation by Ban Ki Moon on behalf of The Elders, #WalkTogether The Civil Society Award Winner will be profiled.
14:35-15:05 In conversation with Dave Archambault
  • Jesse Chen, Powerline (Moderator)
  • Dave Archambault, Former Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
This session will offer an interview-style conversation with indigenous peoples’ rights leader Dave Archambault on his struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline and as a champion for indigenous peoples’ sovereignty and the protection of indigenous peoples’ lands and natural resources.
15:05-15:15 CIVICUS Talk. A Data Revolution for Social Transformation Alex Sardar, CIVICUS This talk will argue that a data revolution driven by citizen-generated data can contribute to social transformation by supporting people or their organisations to monitor, demand or drive change directly on issues that affect them.

Our future. Re-imagining democracy - people voice and power­­

  • Amitabh Behar, National Foundation for India (Moderator)
  • Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Envoy
  • Sebastian Vielmas, student protest leader
  • Nicole Bieske, Amnesty International
  • Gerda Verburg, Coordinator Scaling Up Nutrition Movement & UN Asst SG
This session will offer a forward-looking conversation on the roles people can play in reimagining democracy. Each of the participants will briefly outline a civic initiative from  their context to reclaim citizen power and build participatory democracy. Panellists and audience members will share analysis of the challenges to participatory democracy, successful tactics and methods, and strategies for building solidarity and connections between movements.
16:05-16:10 Nelson Mandela Graça Machel Innovation Awards Video presentation by Gro Harlem Brundtland on behalf of The Elders, #WalkTogether The Brave Philanthropy Award Winner will be profiled.
16:10-16:40 Brave Conversation: Innovation Awards Winners
  • Nic Mackay, CIVICUS (Moderator)
  • Youth Activist Award Winner
  • Individual Activist Award Winner
  • CSO Award Winner
  • Brave Philanthropy Award Winner
Inspired by The Elders' #WalkTogether campaign, the 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Award winners will engage in a courageous conversation about the issues facing civil society and citizens around the world.
16:40-17:00 Closing Danny Sriskandarajah, CIVICUS In closing, we will look back at 25 years of citizen participation and CIVICUS’ existence issuing a challenge to take action for a just, inclusive and sustainable world.


Johannesburg Office
25  Owl Street, 6th Floor
Johannesburg, 2092
Tel: +27 (0)11 833 5959
Fax: +27 (0)11 833 7997


Geneva Office
11 Avenue de la Paix
Tel: +41 (0)22 733 3435


Washington DC Office
CIVICUS World Alliance

1775 Eye Street NW Suite 1150

Washington DC 20006, USA



London Office
Unit 60
Eurolink Business Centre
49 Effra Road
SW2 1BZ, London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7733 9696