CIVICUS has long used a working definition of civil society as being "the arena, outside of the family, the state, and the market, which is created by individual and collective actions, organisations and institutions to advance shared interests.
The enabling environment refers to the conditions within which civil society operates: if civil society is an arena, the environment is made up of the forces that shape and influence the size, extent and functioning of that arena.
CIVICUS has been involved in the discussions around the enabling environment for civil society, and has taken efforts in the measurement of the enabling environment of civil society. The Enabling Environment Index (EEI) is a composite index and ranks 109 countries on the conditions for civil society. Given the limited data available on the legal and regulatory environment for civil society, the Enabling Environment National Assessment (EENA) is an attempt by CIVICUS and ICNL to develop a more in-depth national level monitoring framework that complements the EEI.