Geneva, 11 June 2024. The CADE project, an ambitious initiative designed to empower civil society organisations (CSOs) to participate more actively in digital policy processes, was officially launched on 31 May in Geneva. The launch was attended by Ambassador Lotte Knudsen, Permanent Representative of the European Union to the UN in Geneva, Prof. Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director of DiploFoundation, and project partners.

Co-funded by the European Union, the CADE project aims to enhance the active participation of CSOs in global governance and development initiatives. This initiative is crucial in fostering inclusive and participatory democratic processes worldwide.

In her address, Ambassador Knudsen emphasised the EU’s steadfast commitment to the vital role of CSOs in development. The EU’s Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for the thematic programme Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities from 2021 to 2027 highlights the importance of achieving high quality development outcomes through inclusive, democratic engagement.

“It appeals to one of our top priorities: to support and develop civil societies, which is particularly significant in the realm of global internet governance. This is about digital empowerment, and we need civil society’s active involvement. Our approach has always been strongly multistakeholder,” said Ambassador Knudsen.

Prof. Kurbalija further elaborated on the project’s goal to leverage technology for development, underscoring the CADE project’s innovative approach to enhancing CSO capacities. He noted, “This project aims to bring meaningful and substantive inclusion of civil society. Although many forums, such as ICANN, the WSIS Forum, and the IGF Forum, have open doors for participation, the challenge remains in equipping CSOs with the capacity to effectively engage and impact discussions.”

Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila, CADE’s project coordinator from DiploFoundation, introduced the eight partner organisations collaborating on this project:

  • European Center for Non-for-profit Law (ECNL), Netherlands
  • Forus, France
  • Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Uganda
  • Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), Kenya
  • Sarvodaya Fusion, Sri Lanka
  • Social Media Exchange (SMEX), Lebanon
  • Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC), Fiji
  • Fundación Karisma, Colombia

The launch event was followed by a technical session held during the WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event (27–31 May 2024 in Geneva), which showcased the CADE project’s initiatives and concluded with a call to action for both individual and institutional efforts to promote genuine inclusivity and participation in digital governance.

Prof. Jovan Kurbalija and Amb. Lotte Knudson shaking hands at the launch session of the CADE project, on 31 May 2024

Photo 1: Prof. Jovan Kurbalija and Amb. Lotte Knudson shaking hands at the launch session of the CADE project, on 31 May 2024. Credit: DiploFoundation

Prof. Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation, Amb. Lotte Knudsen, the EU’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, and Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila, CADE’s project coordinator, during the project launch session in Geneva on 31 May 2024

Photo 2: Prof. Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation, Amb. Lotte Knudsen, the EU’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, and Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila, CADE’s project coordinator, during the project launch session in Geneva on 31 May 2024. Credit: DiploFoundation

Note to Editors:

1. To learn more about the CADE project and stay updated on its progress, please visit our website at

2. The CADE project is founded on the principle of strengthening the fabric of civil society. Its objectives are clear and resonant with the needs of our time:

  • Enhancing CSO contributions: The project reinforces the role of CSOs as pivotal actors in local governance and accountability, as promoters of inclusive and sustainable growth, as providers of social aid and welfare, and as contributors to digital policymaking in the global process.
  • Reinforcing networks: A key goal is to bolster regional and global networks of CSOs and associations of local authorities, enhancing their capacity for cooperation, mutual support, and active participation in multistakeholder digital governance.
  • Education and awareness: The project initiates and backs efforts towards education and awareness-raising, ensuring populations are well-informed and supportive of development efforts. This underscores the importance of an educated civil society in progressing towards sustainable development, particularly in the context of digital advancements.

3. Partners from diverse sectors contribute to this initiative, each echoing the project’s comprehensive and inclusive approach. Quotes:

  • DiploFoundation: Dr Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director, DiploFoundation: “CADE, a logical progression for Diplo, builds on our 20+ years of supporting stakeholders, especially from small and developing countries, to engage meaningfully in global processes. Alongside a network of 7,200+ alumni from 208 countries and territories, we have made substantial contributions to the UN, ITU, ICANN, the Internet Society, the Internet Governance Forum, WSIS, Freedom Online Coalition, the Global Digital Compact, and others. CADE is the next phase of Diplo’s mission: a strategic partnership with a stellar lineup of like-minded organisations.” 
  • ECNL: Karolina Iwańska, Digital Civic Space Advisor, ECNL: “Civil society plays a pivotal role in shaping global norms and rules related to internet governance. It brings crucial expertise in human rights, societal impacts of technology, especially on marginalised communities, and considerations related to equality, accessibility, and inclusion. This role should be explicitly recognised and amplified in all internet governance processes, including in the development of technical standards. However, this will not happen without creating spaces for meaningful, long-term engagement and resources for civil society, especially for organisations working with and for under-represented groups in global majority countries. At a time of unprecedented global focus on internet governance, CADE aims to bring about a lasting increase in structural civil society participation in these processes.”
  • Forus: Mavalow Christelle Kalhoule, Forus Chair and President of SPONG, the Burkina Faso NGO network: “Digitalisation touches the lives of billions of people around the world, but how many are consulted and informed? We believe in the power of strengthening capacities and creating new links between civil society organisations around the globe to influence internet governance forums and bring forward the needs of communities – especially of those left behind. Our commitment and meaningful engagement is indispensable.”  
  • CIPESA: Ashnah Kalemera, Programme Manager, CIPESA: Through the CADE Project, “CIPESA will continue playing its current catalytic role in supporting actors across Africa to become active defenders and promoters of the multistakeholder model of internet governance.” 
  • KICTANet: Dr Grace Githaiga, CEO, KICTANet: “As a leading advocate for digital rights and internet governance, KICTANet recognises the critical role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in shaping a free, open, and secure internet. This initiative underscores the need for enhanced participation, addressing barriers to access, knowledge, and representation. By fostering greater inclusion and collaboration, we aim to ensure that diverse voices are heard in international policy discussions, leading to more equitable and human-centric digital governance.” 
  • Sarvodaya Fusion: Nipunika Ruhunage, General Manager, Sarvodaya Fusion: “Sarvodaya Fusion, the trailblazer in empowering communities across Sri Lanka with digital access, literacy, and benefits, recognises the indispensable role of Civil Society Organisations in fostering an inclusive digital landscape. We believe that strengthening and empowering civil society is crucial for preserving an open internet and ensuring a participatory policy-making process. Through the CADE initiative, we are resolutely committed to paving the way for a sustainable digital future by bridging the gap between marginalised communities and CSOs through fostering effective digital governance.” 
  • SMEX: Abed Kataya, Media program Manager, SMEX: “While defending and advancing digital rights in the WANA region, SMEX will work effectively to ensure that the internet is well governed. Through a long journey, internet governance plays a huge role in digital rights and human rights to be connected, have access to the internet, and express freely in a safe and free way. In addition, we believe that multistakeholderism and engaging civil society in the internet governance scene are equally important because we believe that policies should include all stakeholders, especially civil society, not only proactively but also by design.”
  • PICISOC: Andrew Molivurae, Vice Chair, PICISOC: “PICISOC has been the leading ICT civil society organisation in the Pacific Islands with a history spanning over 25 years. The organisation, through its engagements, raised the bar in ICT capacity for many within the community who are now engaging in international fora. In the last 5 years PICISOC took the lead in facilitating the Pacific Internet Governance Forum (Pacific IGF), creating a dialogue for multistakeholder discussions, an annual event that attracted governments, civil society and business participation. Through the CADE  Project, PICISOC and its subsidiaries,  including the Pacific IGF, will continue to prosper in the next 3 years.”
  • Karisma: Pilar Sáenz, Civil Participation project manager, Karisma Foundation: “Internet governance spaces have given us the opportunity to learn about the discussions, promote dialogue among multiple stakeholders and establish new and interesting alliances. For Karisma Foundation, keeping these spaces open and ready for participation is primordial. We believe that internet governance spaces can expand the democratic space, bring new issues to global, regional and local discussions and illuminate the path towards the exercise of human rights and social justice, that is the bet that we see materialising in CADE.

4. For further information, interview requests, or more detailed inquiries, contact our press team at

This press release is also available in Arabic, French, Spanish.