Global challenges have made the world more difficult to govern today, compared to 20 years ago. In this context, states can no longer govern alone; they need assistance. The role of civil society has gradually changed – from a monitor and corrector of states’ actions to an active co-participant in governance. Are civil society organizations capable of playing such a new and vital role? This policy brief explores how the structures and functions of civil society have evolved at the global, regional, national and local levels. It recommends sustainable ways to build capacities and improve the quality of good governance.