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The importance of partnerships with non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGO/CSOs) was underscored by Member Governments in the World Food Summit Plan of Action and is confirmed in FAO's Strategic Framework.
Since 1983, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department has actively encouraged NGO/CSO participation in the work of the Department through participation in the biennial sessions of the Committee on Fisheries and in the work of major field projects.

The Code of Conduct was developed in a series of open-ended working groups. NGO/CSOs participated actively in the process and made many substantive contributions. International NGO/CSOs, in particular, were able to provide information and insights to the elaboration process concerning a broad range of global fisheries and environmental problems and, in some cases, to sensitize government representatives about the extent and severity of these issues. National NGO/CSOs were able to influence the development process through their active involvement in national delegations.

NGO/CSOs are at the forefront in fostering implementation of the Code of Conduct as well. NGO/CSOs were the first (1999) and the third (2003) recipients of the Margarita Lizárraga Medal awarded biennially by the FAO Conference to a person or organization that has served with distinction in the application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

FIE maintains close and regular liaison with NGO/CSOs and has a flexible mechanism in place to consult with them biennially, or at other times as required. This is confirmed by the progressively increased participation of NGO/CSOs in activities of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and their participation at sessions of COFI.

NGO/CSOs Participation in COFI
NGO/CSOs Participation in COFI
 
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