Freedom and Accountability

People power

Freedom and accountability are essential for an open society, where people feel free and safe to express themselves, where they have the information and opportunities to make informed decisions and where they are empowered to hold government and companies to account.

Our context

An open society ensures that individuals feel safe and free to express themselves and that they have the information and opportunities to make informed decisions. It is a society where individuals can hold government and companies to account for their actions.

However, the space for free expression in particular has been shrinking and is under threat in more than 100 countries. Only one in seven people live in countries with a free media environment. Governments are increasingly suppressing independent groups that share alternative views. This situation has a profound impact on the space for dialogue and debate.

Only one in seven people live in countries with a free media environment

Our aim

Hivos strives for a world where all people freely, safely and independently exercise their right to information, freedom of expression and self-determination.

To contribute to this vision, we aim for civil society organizations and “infomediaries” (e.g. independent journalists, hacktivists, data nerds, artists, cultural producers, academics and civic watchdogs) to make wide-ranging information accessible and usable for citizens who wish to hold governments and companies to account.

These infomediaries themselves must also feel safe and independent enough to use the available space for expression, dialogue and debate. Finally, we want powerholders to have a more open and responsive attitude towards transparent and accountable governance.

Our approach

Following our three-step approach, we support frontrunners such as artists, bloggers, journalists, techies, activists and creative entrepreneurs so they have safe and sustainable spaces to express themselves and invite others to join the debate. In order to connect multiple and diverse stakeholders and co-create solutions, we foster new alliances between change makers, civil society, government and companies to develop new strategies for public space and enhanced accountability.

To counter shrinking civic space, we support alliances that facilitate evidence-based policy influencing and scale successful transparency and accountability initiatives.

Our contribution

This thematic area contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels).