Estonian Civil Society Development Concept

The mission and goals of the civil society are written down in a strategy document called the Estonian Civil Society Development Concept, known as the EKAK.

The EKAK is a document that defines the mutually complementing roles of public authorities and civic initiative, principles of their cooperation and mechanisms and priorities for cooperation in shaping and implementing public policies and building up civil society in Estonia. It deals with cross-sectoral issues such as participation in policy making, funding, outsourcing public services, awareness and civic education, volunteering, philanthropy, etc. This guarantees that civil society development is seen in a strategic way as opposed to sporadic, disconnected approaches.

The EKAK was developed greatly by NENO. In December 2002, the Estonian parliament, Riigikogu, adopted the Concept as a basis for co-operation with the Third sector.

The implementation of EKAK is overseen by representatives of ministries and NGOs. The committee reports on its work to the government and the public every year. Every second year, a public discussion on policy matters concerning civil society development takes place in the Parliament.

Since the EKAK, other documents have been prepared. Action plans, stating concrete tasks, deadlines, and resources, are made in every few years, currently for 2011-14. The NGO Code of Ethics serves as a tool for every individual to be able to evaluate whether an NGO is acting according to transparent principles. There are also Codes of Good Practice on fields like participation, public service delivery, funding and volunteering. As EKAK, these are voluntary agreements between civil society and the public sector, harmonizing the principles for cooperation from which both sides can proceed.