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The Civil Society Network in the county of Skåne / Sweden – NGO

The Civil Society Network in Skåne (NÄTVERKET – Idéburen sektor Skåne) is an independent lobby organization for NGO:s in the region of Skåne. The Network aims to gather, develop and strengthen civil society as a driving force in the development of local communities in Skåne..

Since 2006, the Network has been an important actor in addressing regional development issues with an extensive and well-functioning network of civil society organizations. Our work focuses on three core areas: competence and knowledge development, analysing political and societal developments, and lobbying. Currently, the Network has 50 member associations who represent the full breadth of the not-for-profit sector – from humanitarian and community organizations to disability, sporting, cultural, child and youth organizations, in addition to campaigning and human rights organizations, cooperative and rural development organisations, faith communities, and adult education centres.

Much like the American researcher Robert Putnam, The Civil Society Network believes that positive social values are often created within and through participation in the not-for-profit sector. Putnam argues that social engagement generates political commitment and thereby provides greater insight and confidence in politics and the organization of communities. Putnam’s primary argument is that social interaction and activities in civil society organisations create interpersonal trust, social capital and promote democracy.

PwC’s Penta helix model argues that local communities best develop through a multi-sector approach involving the public sector, private sector, academia, civil society, and social entrepreneurs/individual engaged citizens – (PwC – Cities of the future – 2005).

Figure: PwC – Cities of the future – 2005 – page 17

Civil Society in the county of Skåne/Sweden

Skåne and the Öresund/Copenhagen region is an area characterized by many opportunities for development, and by just as many social challenges. High unemployment, particularly among young people and migrants, housing shortages, migration from rural to urban areas, and a generally aging population are the main challenges the region faces. However the region carries a great entrepreneurial spirit and a strong civil society  including more than 20,000 organizations of which 14,000 are non-profit organizations.

A great deal of the social value generated in the not-for-profit sector is created by the voluntary involvement of individuals and local communities. This is the foundation of our entire sector. However, many not-for-profit organizations employ large numbers of staff who run extensive operations. In Skåne, 5,000 of the civil society organizations have employees, with a total payroll of 4.1 billion SEK per annum. There is no comprehensive data on the number of employees in civil society organizations in Skåne, however, it can be of interest to report that there were a total of about 12,000 employees in the 400 member organizations of the two employers’ associations (Idea and KFO) that we have received information from.

In 2010, The Civil Society Network together with Region Skåne, reached an agreement on cooperation between the public sector and the third sector. This agreement was adopted unanimously by the Regional Council and a large number of organizations in the summer of 2010. It was then renewed after a thorough revision in summer 2014, and in 2016, the County Administrative Board of Skåne also joined the agreement. The revised agreement has five development areas: Collaboration, Participation and Influence, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Economy and Volunteering, and Learning and Research. By the agreement a platform for continuous dialogue, networking and building relationships has been established between civil society, politics and public administration in Skåne.