From disaster to development: The Argüden Governance Academy promotes a culture of good governance

The Argüden Governance Academy (Argüden Yönetişim Akademisi), supported by our Kahramanmaraş Earthquake Emergency Relief Fund, is working to ensure that civil society can monitor the recovery and reconstruction of earthquake-affected regions in line with good governance principles. 

Please read the following interview with the organisation for an insight into their work and the impact of their initiatives.

Can you tell us about your organisation’s goals and activities, as this is the first time your organisation has received a grant from us?

The Argüden Governance Academy is dedicated to improving the quality of governance in public, civil society, private sector, and international organisations. Our mission is to enhance trust in institutions by improving governance quality, thus contributing to a better quality of life and a sustainable future. We aim to be the leading authority and reference for good governance practices across all age groups, especially leaders in public institutions, the private sector, and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Our activities include educational programs, research, the development of governance models and guides, and systems to encourage good practices through scholarships and awards. We collaborate with national and international institutions and contribute intellectually to global governance efforts. Over the past 10 years, the Academy has: 

  • Conducted over 100 educational programs, graduating around 6,000 participants.
  • Completed 25 projects investigating the governance quality of about 1,500 institutions.
  • Published over 100 publications, reports, and articles.
  • Engaged with over 100,000 individuals through more than 350 events.
  • Increased its impact by collaborating with over 350 organisations from various sectors.
  • Leveraged monetary donations with additional in-kind contributions to maximise the impact, achieving 2.5 times the economic value for each monetary donation.
  • Engaged hundreds of volunteers contributing a total of 40,000 volunteer hours in support of our efforts.

We have developed impactful projects such as the Sustainability Governance Scorecard©, Municipality Governance Scorecard©, Local Development Guide, Integrated Municipality Governance Model©, and Integrated and Inclusive Strategic Planning Guide. We also run educational programs for children and university students. We have an active youth network with over 40 participating universities in many provinces.

Our mission is to enhance trust in institutions by improving governance quality, thus contributing to a better quality of life and a sustainable future.

Authorised by the Council of Europe, we promote the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE) process for local governments in Türkiye and run the Participatory Democracy School. We support academic research on good governance through scholarship programs.

As pioneers in integrated reporting, we have led the adoption of integrated thinking in public, civil society, and private sectors by publishing our activities as Integrated Reports since our inception.

What is good governance culture? How can we promote this culture and increase civic participation?

Governance is the political, economic, and administrative authority to manage a society’s activities. It includes the mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights, fulfil their obligations, and mediate their differences. 

The core of governance lies in guiding and overseeing those in power within institutions. Good governance is essential for institutions that stakeholders trust and for creating a sustainable future. It directs decision-makers to enhance societal welfare and ensures oversight of practices, fostering trust in institutions.

Building trust requires consistency, responsibility, accountability, fairness, transparency, efficiency, and participation. Trust, once lost, is hard to regain, but it is the foundation of development. Societies that institutionalise trust enable greater interdependence and collaboration, fostering entrepreneurship and growth. Good governance improves decision-making quality and resource efficiency, thus enhancing life quality.

Trust, once lost, is hard to regain, but it is the foundation of development.

Can you tell us about the Civil Engagement from Disaster to Development project you launched with support from the Kahramanmaraş Earthquake Direct Support Fund?

Disasters are inevitable, but preparedness is an investment in a resilient future. Our Civil Engagement from Disaster to Development project was initiated to support recovery and reconstruction efforts in 11 cities affected by the February 6, 2023 earthquakes. We aimed to contribute to sustainable development by applying a governance-based, holistic, and community-centric approach. The project strengthens civil monitoring, evaluation, and participation processes, ensuring more effective outcomes from stakeholder efforts.

We developed a Civil Engagement Evaluation Model© to evaluate and enhance the quality of ongoing recovery and reconstruction processes in the affected cities. Our initial focus was on examining these processes through the lens of good governance principles, aligning identified areas for improvement with regulatory frameworks and national development plans. We aimed to foster more coordinated efforts among public, private, and civil society actors, leading to better decision-making and resource use.

How does the Civil Engagement Evaluation Model© help in post-disaster recovery and increasing community resilience? What governance principles are crucial in this context?

The Civil Engagement Evaluation Model©, developed with the principle “you can’t improve what you don’t measure,” is designed for use by all stakeholders, especially civil society. It promotes transparency, and inclusive and meaningful participation throughout all decision and implementation processes before and after a disaster. The model aims to:

  • Contribute to rapid and effective sustainable development and quality of life in disaster-affected cities.
  • Enhance the quality of governance in recovery and reconstruction processes continuously.
  • Increase the participation and contribution of citizens, CSOs, and other civil actors by building trust.
  • Promote the use of public authority and resources based on good governance and community-centred approaches.
  • Support more harmonious and coordinated efforts among different stakeholders.
  • Reduce future disaster risks and develop a good practice model.
  • Encourage a holistic disaster reduction approach and good governance culture for a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future.
The Civil Engagement Evaluation Model© promotes transparency and participation throughout all decision and implementation processes before and after a disaster.

Strengthening the operation of recovery and reconstruction processes requires implementing the following good governance principles at every stage:

  1. Representation and participation: Ensuring all relevant stakeholders, especially citizens and CSOs, influence decision-making through consultation and participation.
  2. Responsibility and responsiveness: Evaluating issues, needs, demands, and suggestions holistically and acting responsibly, considering the interests of future generations.
  3. Effectiveness and efficiency: Using resources economically and efficiently to achieve desired goals.
  4. Fairness and inclusiveness: Considering the needs and demands of all social groups, especially disadvantaged ones, in every management process.
  5. Transparency: Making data and information about decisions, resources, activities, and their effects accessible and understandable.
  6. Accountability: Informing the public about decisions, resources, activities, results, and deviations transparently and accessibly.
  7. Consistency: Ensuring coherence and coordination across plans, goals, activities, and sectors at local, regional, national, and global levels.
Receiving a grant for developing a project idea is a great example of promoting good governance culture.

How has our grant support impacted the Academy’s work? 

Our research, model development activities, and dissemination efforts rely on resources. Receiving a grant for developing a project idea is a great example of promoting good governance culture. Post-disaster efforts alone are insufficient. Ensuring meaningful participation processes and preventive measures involving all societal segments requires diverse funding. Thus, support from various donors is crucial for embedding good governance culture and contributing to a sustainable future.

What are the Academy’s plans and priorities for the future?

In our 10th year, we are thrilled to develop tools to better measure governance and promote a culture of coexistence, presenting inclusive models for society. We aim to diversify resources and shift from project-based to vision-based efforts through the widespread application of our model from the Civil Engagement from Disaster to Development project. Specifically, we plan to:

  • Establish a platform to support the model’s widespread use, sharing best practices, educational materials, and user experiences.
  • Extend pilot projects to other institutions based on our project’s success.
  • Secure financial resources for pilot implementation processes.

In conclusion, we hope to continue benefiting our country and the world with our research, education, and advocacy activities, promoting the understanding and application of good governance culture. We thank all institutions and individuals who support our efforts.