Civil society


Civil society is a vital component of governance and decentralization, the one

component that is supposed to vigilantly hold those in power accountable and to

promote democracy. Simply put, civil society is that sphere of action independent of

the State, within the realm of private sector and civil organizations, capable of

stimulating resistance to and change in undemocratic regimes. Civil society

organizations include non-governmental organizations, professional and private sector

associations and trade unions. They also include families, churches, neighborhood

groups, social groups and work groups. The capability and strength of civil society

depends on the operation of such organizations.(1)

A problem with civil society in the context of epidemics and pandemics, identified by

the HEG Expert Group Report, is that “civil society remains mostly the ‘weak part of the

picture’ or an obstacle to good implementation of measures, ‘something to be

‘educated’ and ‘informed’’, most solutions include improved communicating to civil

society but no real involvement of its relevant parts in the evaluation and management

of the crisis.”. The report raises a number of questions, like: “What processes,

pathways or organizational networks could be developed to facilitate interactions with

civil society?” and “What could be done to improve civil society’s long term resilience

with respect to pandemics”, and suggests possible solutions, such as novel o

rganisational or participatory ways to improve interaction, educational aspects,

improvement of fast access to trustworthy information and increased knowledge of

cultural and group-specific aspects of perceiving and managing threats. (2)


(1) United Nations Economic and Social Council, Definition of basic concepts and

terminologies in governance and public administration, UNESC Report, E/C.16/2006/4

(2) HEG Expert Group, Science, H1N1 and Society: towards a more pandemic-resilient

society, Final Report, 2011

MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future
Expect the unexpected and know how to respond
Driving innovation in crisis management for European resilience
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Solutions to improve CBRNe resilience
Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
Strengthening of the national surveillance system for communicable diseases
Surveillance of vaccine preventable hepatitis
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
European network for highly infectious disease
Dedicated surveillance network for surveillance and control of vaccine preventable diseases in the EU
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Addressing chronic diseases and healthy ageing across the life cycle
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Get involved in the responsible marine research and innovation
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Promote vaccinations among migrant population in Europe
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improve the quality of indoor air, keeping it free from radon
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Investigating how cities in the West securitise against global pandemics
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence