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One Step Closer to Transforming Our World

Julia SanchezWhat a summer it has been! July and August saw the culmination of two major international processes – both the focus of much of our work over the past year – and the launch of a major domestic process.

First came the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. I attended the FfD3 conference as a member of the official Canadian delegation and also participated in the CSO forum that preceded the conference as a member of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE). Second was the consensus agreement on “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” which will be formally adopted in late September at the UN Summit on the post-2015 development agenda. My colleague Fraser and I are looking forward to participating in this important summit as well. And third, was the launch of the Canadian Federal Election - which at 74 days is the longest campaign since 1872.

As noted in my video interview for CPDE, civil society went into Addis with three major demands: to upgrade the UN Intergovernmental Committee of Tax Experts into a universal inter-governmental tax body with equitable participation of developing countries, replacing OECD-domination on tax matters; to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of private finance and in the role of the private sector in development; and to have a strong, independent and meaningful follow-up and review mechanism for the outcomes of Addis (as well as Monterrey and Doha). Regrettably, the outcome was soft on all three.

Not surprisingly, the Civil Society Response – a thorough analysis of the outcomes of Addis – holds no punches on FfD3’s failure to address key systemic structural issues in international economic, trade, tax, financial and monetary policies and to democratize global governance. Although not intended as a pledging conference, the meeting also failed to scale up existing resources, commit new ones or provide any actionable deliverables – with the exception of the new Technology Facilitation Mechanism.

And how did Canada fare at this conference, you might want to know? Well, for one, it had a multi-sectoral delegation made up of representatives from civil society and the private sector, which is in itself a step forward. Canada played an active role at the conference, leading on a number of side events and making and participating in important announcements, notably the creation of a centre of excellence for civic registration and vital statistics at IDRC. The preparatory work of the DFATD team, guided and supported by Minister Paradis’ office, was put on display. It also played a convening role for one of the negotiating blocks, which allowed it to steer things towards a resolution in the late hours of negotiation. And though civil society still has many unanswered questions about the predominant focus on the role of the private sector in development, and the effectiveness of the blended finance mechanisms being proposed, it was possible to engage the delegation in dialogue around the work that lies ahead – around ensuring accountability and transparency for the private sector as it is entrusted with a larger role in contributing to sustainable development.

The initial assessment of “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” has generally been much more positive. There could however have been stronger language on leaving no one behind. The scope of “common but differentiated responsibility” is just limited to environmental issues, rather than broader sustainable development. The means of implementation commitments from Addis are weak. The monitoring and review framework is vague and voluntary. And we need to ensure that the outcome of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators, due next March, meets the ambition of the agenda.

Yet in bringing together people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership, this is a substantially more integrated and indivisible agenda than its predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It puts the environment, society and economics back at the heart of sustainable development “to realize the human rights of all.” And as a universal framework, it aims to do so everywhere – in Norway and Nigeria, in Sweden and Somalia, in Canada and Cameroon. It is an Agenda “of the people, by the people, and for the people” (para 52). Now we need to shift from words to action, with every country adopting “cohesive nationally owned sustainable development strategies, supported by integrated national financing frameworks” (para 58). This means Canadians must rally behind this global agenda and push any future government to make concrete commitments on how it will implement it. How?

Conveniently, we now find ourselves in an election. As we all know, foreign policy, and international development in particular, is usually not a vote-changer. But for the past year, it has been clear that foreign policy would have a higher profile in this election than in 2011. The first-ever bilingual Leaders’ Debate on Foreign Policy on September 28, will be an opportunity to showcase where parties stand on issues of global development cooperation and other foreign affairs issues. At CCIC, we are hoping that since the debate comes on the heels of the post-2015 Summit, leaders will be questioned on their plans to implement the new post-2015 agenda – both at home and overseas.

We need all of Canada’s political parties to hear that we expect Ottawa to act on the SDGs. What will really mark the success of this framework over the next fifteen years is the ability and willingness of governments, including any future Canadian government, to match the level of ambition and latent potential of this new agenda with the degree of implementation that it deserves. I invite you all to join us in achieving this important goal in the upcoming weeks as we work to make international development count, for ordinary Canadians and for our future leaders.

As a participant at our “Universal Goals, Canadian Challenges” conference observed in a “selfie” done for our campaign, “The SDGs are universal…show your commitment Canada.”

We can #DoBetter2015!

In solidarity,


Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear from you! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.



Remembering Karen Takacs (1961-2015)

Remembering Karen TakacsThe international development community is mourning the loss of Karen Takacs, former director at Crossroads International, who passed away on August 17 at her home in Prince Edward County at age 54. Karen was a tireless social justice activist and former Chair of the CCIC Board from 2008 to 2011. As Chair of CCIC, Karen worked with the CCIC team to lead international roundtables on aid effectiveness and advocated for women’s leadership and representation at decision making tables. When CCIC’s future was threatened after losing its federal funding, she worked with volunteer members and staff to lead the process of renewal, galvanizing the membership behind CCIC. CCIC is where it is today in great part thanks to her leadership and vision. Karen brought her considerable energy and intelligence, unfailing optimism, instinct for advocacy and great compassion to all of her work in the non-profit sector. Karen's memory is being honoured with a fund established in her name at Crossroads International, which will provide vital financial support to African organizations which work to support women's leadership and equality for women and girls. If you have not already, we strongly encourage you to consider donating to the Karen Takacs Women's Leadership Fund to see her legacy live on.


Updates on We Can Do Better 2015

We Can Do Better 2015Campaigners have remained informed and engaged all summer through the launch of a bi-monthly electronic bulletin with the latest news and tips on the WCDB campaign! The e-bulletin provides an action of the week, as well as suggested tweets and Facebook posts, among other things. If you are not receiving it in your inbox, make sure to sign up by visiting the campaign website (bottom left on the home page). As promised -and as you read this- the Elections Toolkit is being launched! This hands-on resource will contains key messages, templates, scripts and ideas to help campaigners reach out to candidates from all parties, and make sure that the three themes of the campaign are being discussed in public.


New organization to monitor multinationals and human rights

Monitor Multinational and Human RightsAbove Ground was created to encourage multinational companies to respect human rights. The organization calls on the Canadian government to protect against human rights abuse by the private sector and to ensure access to judicial redress for those who suffer harm in relation to corporate activity. Above Ground also works to enhance the transparency and accountability of government agencies that promote Canadian companies overseas. People can sign up for periodic updates about Above Ground’s work on the organization website. A press release announcing the launch of Above Ground is also available here.


Canada Off-Track on Human Rights

At the end of July, the UN’s Human Rights Committee - which monitors the implementation of civil and political rights by states at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – issued a critical report by 18 human rights experts on Canada’s track record. Among other things, the report noted Canada’s failure to conduct a national inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women, its handling of indigenous land and titles, its lack of safeguards governing Canada’s security and intelligence agencies, the conduct of Canadian mining companies abroad and the lack of national oversight over them, potentially unnecessary restrictions on human rights NGOs, and the government’s treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers. The report included fifteen recommendations on how to address these shortcomings. Canada is to report back in a year on the implementation of these recommendations.

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Last ODAAA Guidance Note Released

In early July, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) quietly released the last – this one on poverty reduction – of three guidance notes on the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (ODAAA). The Act requires all Ministers responsible for disbursing aid to “be of the opinion” that their allocations 1) reduce poverty, 2) take account the perspectives of the poor, and 3) are consistent with international human rights standards. In February 2014, following a report by the Auditor General that was critical of how DFATD was implementing the Act, the Department released notes on international human rights and taking account the perspectives of the poor. (For an assessment of these two, read this CCIC blog.) On the just-released poverty reduction note, it calls on the Department to consider the multi-dimensional nature of poverty in an “integrated and holistic approach that addresses its root causes in a sustainable manner.” Each note also provides a useful set of questions to help steer funding applicants in the process of assessing whether their proposals meet the conditions of the Act. Why the final guidance note took 18 months to be released – and why now – remains unclear, but we welcome this important new addition.

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International Cooperation Days 2015 report available

International Cooperation Days ReportWith close to 300 participants, more than 30 workshops, five plenaries, a public event and many side events, the International Cooperation Days 2015 in Gatineau were a huge success! Whether or not you were able to attend, the report on the conference should be of interest to you. It features key highlights and the main conclusions of the following: the pre-conference formal dialogue on post-2015 with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD); the presentations from the four main federal political parties on their priorities for international development, including reactions to the We Can Do Better 2015 campaign; five plenaries on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inequality, climate change, gender equality, and indigenous issues ; as well as links to photos and presentations. The 2016 CCIC Annual Conference will take place May 11-12 in Ottawa. Mark your calendars and plan to be with us!

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Implementing DFATD's CSO policy - Milestones to meet

Six months after the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) released their International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Civil Society Partnership Policy, CCIC has produced a document that lays out suggested milestones for the government to reach within the first year of implementing the CSO policy, as well as some directions to aspire to looking forward. The milestones document is intended to give direction to the policy and lay out the Council's expectations with regards to its implementation. Short of the government publicly disclosing its own implementation action plan, the milestones document sets some reference points for the international development and humanitarian community to refer to in 2016 when DFATD holds its inaugural consultation with civil society to discuss how the policy has been implemented. This annual meeting was a key commitment in the CSO Policy to ensure DFATD moved from policy to practice.

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After 50 years, Canadian Hunger Foundation closes its doors

Canadian Hunger Foundation A well-established and well-respected Canadian NGO, the Canadian Hunger Foundation, announced in July that it was ending its operations. The Canadian Hunger Foundation has worked in over 50 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas and had a distinguished reputation for helping families to produce the food they need in a sustainable manner and to build up their incomes to permanently lift themselves out of poverty. CHF will be transitioning its remaining projects to World University Service of Canada and Canadian Feed the Children, who will ensure their successful completion. More information can be found here. CHF was through the years a committed and active CCIC member and it will be missed by the community.

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Kirsten Daub in San Salvador with ANDES Non-Sexist and Inclusive Pedagogy promoter Maria Eugenia Moreno.
Photo credit Nancy Knickerbocker.


This month, CCIC met with CoDev Acting Executive Director Kristen Daub, to talk about the importance of equitable and longstanding partnerships and the role of the new Sustainable Development Goals…among other things!


CCIC: You recently started your role as acting Executive Director. What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year?

I’m really excited about working with new partners both in Canada and Latin America. CoDev has the privilege of working with organizations that are working for equality and justice, and it’s exciting to be part of that work and the changes these groups are creating. I am particularly looking forward to hosting representatives from our Latin American partners here in Vancouver, and taking delegations of Canadians to Latin America. It’s quite a feeling to see groups of people united by a common cause that transcends geographical borders, and feel you’re part of a movement that is making the world a more equitable place.

Read the full interview...

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Inter Pares Solidarity Tour, Guatemala 2016

Inter ParesInter Pares is launching its next Solidarity Tour for February 2016. A group of 14 supporters will be accompanied by two staff members on a trip to Guatemala. Project Counselling Service (PCS), Inter Pares main counterpart in Guatemala, will be welcoming Inter Pares supporters in person. All Inter Pares supporters are welcome to apply to participate. Spots are very limited, which is why there is a short application process. Two subsidized places are being reserved for youth participants. You can visit the Solidarity Tour page for more information.

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Wildlife. Not Entertainers – World Animal Protection

World Animal ProtectionWorld Animal Protection has launched a campaign to raise awareness on the suffering and exploitation of wild animals, mainly by the tourist and hunting industries. With this campaign, World Animal Protection aims at building a global movement to reveal this suffering and help tourists and responsible travel companies to protect wild animals. To know more about the campaign and to get involved, visit the website.

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New Policy Brief by Oxfam on Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Oxfam CanadaFor many project-affected communities, Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) represents a critical tool for ensuring that they have a say in whether and how extractive industry projects move forward. This policy brief by Oxfam UK, Community Consent Index 2015: Oil, gas, and mining company public positions on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent examines publicly available corporate commitments regarding community rights and community engagement. The results suggest increasing commitments to FPIC in the mining sector but disappointing trends in relation to the oil and gas sector and women’s participation in decision making.

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Latest articles published in Development Unplugged ​

Development UnpluggedTwo articles were published in Huffington Post Canada “Development Unplugged” since the last edition of FLASH! In What Will Be the Role of Country Ownership in the Post-2015 Agenda? Luca de Fraia from ActionAid Italy presents the key findings of a report on the current state of play on country ownership in post-2015 negotiations. In Three Ways Civil Society Can Ensure the Private Sector Delivers Positive Development Outcomes, Taryn Russell from RESULTS Canada shares the main takeaways of a CSO Roundtable on Financing for Development, where thirty participants came together to debate how the CSO community should respond to Canada's approach to international development financing.

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Imagine Canada Report: Charities in Canada as an Economic Sector

Imagine Canada Report

Imagine Canada’s Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector released late June a discussion paper entitled Charities in Canada as an Economic Sector. The paper is an invitation to Canadians, governments, businesses and communities to not only think of charities as purpose driven, but also as an essential component driving Canada’s economy. Sections of the paper cover topics such as: Role and scope of the charitable sector in the Canadian economy; Productivity and innovation in the charitable sector; and Policy implications.


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Civil Society Space Still on the Decline

Shrinking space for civil society is the norm in half of the world’s countries, indicates “The State of Civil Society Report 2015,” a new report released by CIVICUS, which this year focuses on resourcing CSOs. The new report documents cases in 96 countries where civic freedoms are under serious threat. Threats emanate from both state and non-state actors – including corrupt politicians, unaccountable officials, unscrupulous businesses and religious fundamentalists – that benefit from perpetuating governance failures and denying or rolling back long established human rights norms. Such norms are deemed obstacles to national development and security, while critical voices are conflated with terrorism. The situation is exacerbated by an underfunding of CSOs, and in particular, local organizations. According to the report, out of the $130 billion spent on official development assistance (ODA or aid) by OECD-DAC countries in 2013, only 16% went to civil society, and an even smaller portion to local organizations. Short on time? View the brief video on the report.

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Soliciting positive examples on enabling environment

The High Commissioner for Human Rights is putting together a report of practical recommendations on how to create and maintain the space for civil society to work freely and independently. He is looking for examples of where an enabling space for civil society has been created, positive openings used, and useful tools, links and resources developed. Contribute before the deadline of September 30; direct any questions to

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Report Card on the MDGs

Report card on MDGs

This final 2015 report on the implementation of the MDGs assesses the achievements made to date around each of the eight goals, considers ongoing challenges to their implementation, and points to the importance of good data looking forward – signalling a future direction for the new SDGs.

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The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty

Role of Trade in Ending Poverty

A new joint report by the World Bank and the World Trade Organization looks at the type of policies and strategies that can help further integrate the poor into global trade – by lowering trade costs in a way that maximizes the gains and minimizes the risks.

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New report - Multilateral Aid 2015: Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World

Multilateral Aid 2015

The 2015 OECD report on multilateral aid contributes to the broader debate on how to implement the post-2015 development agenda. It argues that multilateral organisations have a fundamental role to play to forge and strengthen inclusive partnerships that will provide the collective, cross-border solutions needed to eradicate absolute poverty and foster a new era of economic progress, environmental sustainability, and peaceful and inclusive societies.

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Youth Environmental Activist Steals Hearts at High Level Climate Event

Youth Environment ActivistSince opening a High-level Event on Climate Change at UN Headquarters on June 29, the passionate and inspiring speech by Mr. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a 15-year old indigenous environmental activist and Youth Director of the organization Earth Guardians, has been featured in Rolling Stone and by dozens of additional press outlets, garnering almost 280,000 hits on YouTube. If you have not seen it yet, here is your chance!

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New Eurodad Report: What lies beneath?

Eurodad ReportIssued just ahead of the Third international Conference on Financing for Development, this new report by Eurodad critically assesses the nature of public private partnerships (PPPs) and their impact on sustainable development, drawing evidence from cases in Tanzania and Peru. The report concludes that PPPs are an expensive, complex and risky option, with limited evidence of impact.

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Canada's Enhanced CSR Strategy – an assessment

A new Working Paper by University of Ottawa academic Penelope Simons assesses the government’s enhanced corporate social responsibility strategy against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, noting both positive developments in the strategy, as well as shortfalls.

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If you have an item for Flash, send it by e-mail to Chantal Havard. Please note that Flash items should be no longer than one paragraph.