Welcome to the new format for the Canadian Council for International Co-operation's Flash! e-bulletin. Our new design is completely housed on the CCIC website, and features all the sections that you have come to know (and love!) over the past six months, plus more graphics and a new section this month – CCIC Members in Action – to highlight some of the important work being done by CCIC’s many members.
Opportunity for a new chapter in CSO-CIDA relations?
As I prepare to embark on year two of my mandate at CCIC, charting a new course for the organization and its members, the arrival of the new Minister for International Cooperation, Julian Fantino, presents us with an opportunity to turn the page while establishing a renewed relationship with CIDA.
The relationship between CSOs and CIDA has gone through many ups and downs in the past 40 plus years. This rapport has traditionally been marked by a high degree of mutual respect and of two-way collaboration - a sense of being two sides of the same coin, the “Canadian international development coin”. On the global stage, Canada has historically punched above its weight, and this has been in great part due to the convergence of Canadian government and civil society views around key issues and values - such as respect for human rights and women’s rights in particular, peace building, CSOs as important development actors, and the environment, to name a few.
Some important initiatives that fall within this vein were put forth under Minister Oda’s leadership – the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Initiative, a strong and sustained focus on food security and agriculture, and a final push on transparency. And many of you have rightfully pointed to these achievements when looking back at the Oda years.
And this on the heels of what can be considered an all time high in CIDA-CSO alignment on the aid effectiveness file – the important leadership provided by CIDA, under Minister Josée Verner, to the global CSO agenda which set the stage for the gains in Accra and then Busan (reaffirming civil society as a development actor in its own right, and ensuring an enabling environment for CSOs). However, over the last few years that convergence gradually fell apart. During Minister Oda’s tenure, overall the civil society sector experienced an all time low in its relationship with CIDA.
With few notable exceptions, the crucial role that CSOs play in policy dialogue and advocacy has been ignored. CIDA has, for all intents and purposes, stopped consulting CSOs in a systematic or meaningful way. CSOs are increasingly seen as strictly implementing agencies for CIDA programs. Even the important contributions that Canadian CSOs make to sustainable development by nurturing long-term partnerships with civil society groups in developing countries and by promoting public education in Canada have been de-prioritized. CIDA funding for CSOs is in decline, and the new funding modalities introduced by CIDA are generally counterproductive: they lack transparency, have been slow to roll out and have been plagued with implementation problems. Aid delivery today feels no more efficient nor effective. In fact, these new mechanisms have yet to address some key tenets of aid effectiveness, such as predictability, transparency and accountability. The negative impact on the work of Canadian CSOs in developing countries, on their partners and beneficiary communities, is massive. The blow to Canada’s reputation is immense.
Our focus at CCIC over the past year has been to regroup and refocus. And though opportunities to be heard as a sector at CIDA have been limited, we have taken advantage of those that have come along and engaged as constructively as possible on behalf of a sector that has so much to contribute. As I start my second year at the head of CCIC, I see the need for the sector to increase the level of our collective engagement on policy issues, to contribute constructively, to propose proactively, and to formulate alternatives. We need to find new ways of enhancing our role as key interlocutors on international development issues - for the sake of our shared goal of ending global poverty and injustice. But we need, first and foremost, to be heard. I look forward to meeting Minister Fantino - I am convinced we will have a lot to talk about, as we move forward on scripting a new chapter for CSO-CIDA relations.
On July 1, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) formally replaced the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-Eff) - the entity that led the High-Level Forum processes that produced the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. Following the conclusions of the Busan meeting, the Post-Busan Interim Group – a multi-stakeholder entity that included civil society at the table – met from January to June to give shape to some of the issues not addressed in Busan, namely the future global governance structure for development cooperation and the monitoring framework for the Busan commitments. These conclusions were presented at the final Working Party meeting at the end of June. CCIC was there tweeting and blogging about the final, somewhat dramatic, meeting, and strategizing with other members of BetterAid.
Just as the GPEDC has now succeeded the WP-Eff (see above), global civil society has also been thinking about how to orient our future work, what goals and objectives we hope to achieve between now and the next meeting of the GPEDC, and how our own governance structure should reflect the need to be “Global light and country heavy”. Following a series of meetings and discussions, BetterAid and OpenForum have produced a proposal in terms of “how, what, where, when and why”. This proposal was up for global consultation, including in North America, in June and July. CCIC was tasked with canvassing Canadian perspectives on the form and function of a future CSO platform that will see BetterAid and the Open Forum merge into one entity. CCIC has been nominated to represent North America in any future structure. A full report of the national consultation is available online.
Over 15 CCIC member organizations have climbed aboard the newly formed CCIC Communications Task Force, which held its first meeting in July. In a context of shifting relationships between established and emerging development actors and the need to improve our sector’s communications to the Canadian public, this group was assembled with the express purpose of working to redefine our sector’s narrative. The group is also a space to share resources and best practices on communications issues. CCIC’s related concept paper, Redefining our Narrative: The Role of International Development CSOs in a Changing World, is available online in CCIC Members’ Space. To join the CCIC Communications Task Force, contact Chantal Havard. The group will be meeting again in September to agree on a workplan and members will be kept informed on a regular basis.
Last month CIDA announced a contribution of an additional $227 million in development assistance to Afghanistan between 2014-2017, on top of the $300 million committed for use between 2011 and 2014. This contribution will be focused on girls’ education, human rights, humanitarian assistance, as well as maternal, newborn and child health. An additional $18 million in development assistance to combat the trade in narcotics will be given over three years, starting in 2015.
Earlier this month CIDA also announced the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund, matching Canadian donations made to registered Canadian charities that are responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of Africa. Funds received until September 30, 2012 will be matched by CIDA. However, it is important to note that the matching funds will be administered separately by CIDA and will not necessarily go to the organizations that raise the matching funds with the Canadian public. We are hoping further clarity on how these funds will be allocated will soon be made public. So far, in 2012, CIDA has already provided $47.5 million in response to this crisis and will also be contributing $10 million to the World Food Program in support of relief efforts in the Sahel.
Already two months have passed since the Rio+20 conference. To put the conference in context, The North-South Institute’s Kate Higgins has written a statements and reactions from civil society, and Agricultural Transition’s website has many case studies and research on food and agriculture issues related to Rio+20. The , was criticized by CSO groups for its lack of concrete proposals, however some progress was made on specific issues. In July, speakers from CSOs in Mali and Brazil, as well as from the ETC Group, USC Canada, the United Church of Canada, and the Council of Canadians participated in a webinar co-hosted by CCIC and the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D). The event assessed the wins and losses from Rio+20, and is available online as a webinar.. The Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness has also compiled a number of
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has announced the co-Chairs and composition of the UN High Level Panel to help steer the global development agenda post-2015, when the Millennium Development Goals expire. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom will co-Chair the panel alongside 23 other representatives. Back in April Beyond 2015 – a global campaign working on the post-2015 agenda – submitted the names of five CSO representatives for the panel. Only one – Graca Machel of The Elders Group – was selected. While welcoming the panel and its diverse regional representation, Beyond 2015 expressed disappointment that it did not include more civil society voices, nor a seat to hear the voices of people living in poverty, nor their representative associations. CCIC is organizing an event on the post-2015 agenda in September and registration is open.
Since many of our members were on holidays in the past few weeks, it wasn’t possible to prepare a profile for this FLASH; but this section will be back in September!
July saw extensive negotiations at the UN to create an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to regulate international transfers of conventional weapons. The talks concluded without an agreement, as Project Ploughshares’ Kenneth Epps (co-chair of the steering board of the Control Arms coalition) explained in a recent Globe and Mail op-ed. CCIC members Amnesty International, Development and Peace, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec, and Project Ploughshares are among the nearly 100 members of the international Control Arms coalition.
This past spring, World Vision held a workshop on sustainable economic growth and mining operations, attended by 27 individuals from the mining sector, federal government, academia and civil society. The workshop focused on the long-term opportunities and challenges associated with mining, as well as the role of local governments in providing for sustainable economic development. A workshop report was produced and will be made available online soon. In the interim, if you require copies of the report, please contact World Vision’s Onome Ako or Terry Gray.
Imagine Canada’s CharityFocus: Is your organization making the most of this important transparency tool?
Canada’s charitable sector represents $79.1 billion or 7.8% of our GDP, creating approximately 2 million jobs, and engaging some 12 million volunteers (these and other Charity Fast Facts are available on the CharityFocus homepage). With the goal of making information on our sector easily accessible, this year Imagine Canada created the , an important tool for finding information on Canada’s 85,000+ registered charities. This website takes information provided to the Canada Revenue Agency and presents it in an accessible format, allowing for comparison between charities and for organizations to upload additional information. A profile has already been created for every NGO in Canada, so if you have not already done so, verify and supplement the information already available on your organization’s online profile.
University of Ottawa professor and longtime CCIC collaborator Stephen Brown has edited a new book that is about to be released. This book makes a comprehensive examination of CIDA’s efforts, exploring such topics as gender, security, advocacy, public engagement, policy, Canadian politics, relations with NGOs, and more. CCIC’s Denis Cote is among the many contributing authors to this important book. This book is due out soon and can be pre-ordered online.
In June, BetterAid, in cooperation with the Open Forum for Development Effectiveness, launched a report written by Brian Tomlinson of AidWatch Canada. This report sets out a narrative of global civil society and the development effectiveness agenda over the past four years and addresses the question: are political leaders from all sectors ready and open to continue, deepen and implement the commitments and directions they set at the 2011 Busan High Level Forum?
Fair Trade Diamond Mining Story
Journalist Erin Collins recently prepared a special report for CBC’s The National on artisanal diamond mining in Sierra Leone and the work of Ottawa-based NGO Diamond Development Initiative to set up a Fair Trade project as follow-up to the work done on the blood diamond campaign.
If you have an item for Flash, send it by e-mail to Jack Litster. Please note that Flash items should be no longer than one paragraph.
Canadian Council for International Co-operation