Igarapé Institute launches a new initiative to reclaim civic space from authoritarianism

The Civic Space Program is designed to support citizens and civil society to reclaim civic space and defend democracy

26th October 

In Brazil and around the world, civic space – the public sphere where citizens organize, debate and act to influence public opinion and policy – is under attack. On 26 October,  the Igarapé Institute is launching a new initiative to help defend it. Called the Civic Space Program, this initiative features new research, typologies, podcasts and a book. The program is working with partners to monitor threats to civic space in real time and work to bolster democracy at a time when it is under assault. 

As part of this launch, the Igarape Institute is releasing a new report – The Ágora is under attack: a typology for the analysis of the closure of civic space in Brazil and in the world. The study clarifies the definition of civic space and its relationship with democracy. It also features a typology to improve understanding of different strategies and tactics deployed by authoritarian-populist governments to throttle legitimate civic action. It reveals how Brazil’s current national administration has sought to close civic space in Brazil, with tactics ranging from the production and dissemination of fake news, to censorship, abuse of power and intimidation. The report also illustrates how civic space can be occupied and offers strategies for non-violent resistance.

The Igarape Institute is also launching a new book – The Defense of Civic Space (in Portuguese), by Ilona Szabó. Based on her personal experience, Ilona describes how the current Brazilian government is relentlessly targeting civil society leaders, journalists, scientists, civil servants and political opponents. And it shows that the consequences and impacts of these attacks go beyond social media networks: they encroach on the personal lives of their targets, as well as erode the transparency and effectiveness of public policies, and the public good. 

The Civic Space Program also includes a new podcast series You Can Change the World (also in Portuguese). In the first season, Ilona speaks with leading public intellectuals, renowned specialists and global influencers about ideas and projects that have brought about real concrete positive changes in public policies in Brazil. She shows how Brazilian leaders such as Wagner Moura, Antônio Drauzio Varella and Patricia Ellen da Silva   navigated obstacles, learned from their mistakes and achieved successes. The Igarapé Institute podcast is designed to inspire engagement and civic action and is already trending as one of the top political podcasts in Brazil. 

Civic action is fundamental to renewing and revitalizing social pacts that can ensure a more empathetic, cooperative and sustainable planet for future generations. In addition to shedding light on the problem, the Igarapé Institute’s Civic Space Program proposes solutions to reclaim civic space by showing inspiring stories of civic action and responsible leadership that contribute to better public policies and the public good.


For information about the program: https://igarape.org.br/en/civic-space/

For information about the report:  


For more information about the book: https://amzn.to/3ddP9h0

For more information about the podcast: https://igarape.org.br/vocepodemudaromundo/


For interviews: press@igarape.org.br

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