Africa Canada Forum Annual Conference
October 21, 2015
University of Ottawa
Contact Kimberly Macmillan.
Americas Policy Group Member Meeting
November 23-24, 2015
Film screening of The Price We Pay
October 1st, 2015
Foreign policy gets its moment
September 30, 2015
Munk Debate: A new agenda challenges Canada to increase its ambition
September 23, 2015
So, the much anticipated United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 is now behind us! World leaders have gathered last week-end in New York to formally adopt and celebrate a new development framework which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Civil society was also present at the Summit, in unprecedented numbers, as were foundations, businesses and other stakeholders.
The outcome of a multi-year and multi-faceted negotiation process, “Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”, or Agenda 2030 for short, presents a much more comprehensive and complex set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); one that aspires to tackle global development in a more comprehensive and durable way than the predecessor MDGs did. By bringing together the traditional and often parallel streams of development and environment, defining international cooperation for development in much broader and holistic terms, and focusing on some key underlying causes of under-development (such as inequality), the table is set for countries to cooperate in significantly different and enhanced ways. This could lead to more coherent international relations for sustainable development, and result in important progress towards a more equitable, just and prosperous world over the next fifteen years.
As I participated in side events, listened in on interactive dialogue and plenary sessions, and held side conversations with a host of UN bureaucrats who have spearheaded the SDG process to date, I was left with one overarching question: will Canada engage meaningfully with this agenda? And, if it will or can, what has to happen for that engagement to be aspirational and inspirational? Furthermore, and more specifically, what is Canadian civil society’s role in achieving this?
And as I listened to representatives of the German, Swedish and Colombian governments, amongst others, describe how they were putting the new goals, and their many indicators, at the centre of a profound all-of-government policy review, I was painfully reminded of the steep climb that lies ahead for us in Canada as we engage with this agenda and the world in a more intentional and constructive way.
On this “morning after” moment, civil society is at a three way cross-roads; we can choose business as usual (BAU), we can choose to tweak BAU and pretty much continue on the path already started with the MDGs, or we can choose a totally new way forward which reflects the transformative potential of this agenda.
I believe that BAU is not an option – the world has moved on, the agenda has broadened and deepened, and the challenges before us today go beyond the aid world that we have come to know and work in. The nature of these shifts is so significant that tweaking our ways of working will not do the trick either. And I would argue that our sector risks irrelevance unless we take the third route and profoundly rethink and revamp the way we work in order to engage with this new agenda and make full use of the opportunities it presents, while guarding against the potential risks it encompasses.
My colleague Fraser Reilly-King has put forth while in NY last week that we must take the third route if we are to make any difference in the next 15 years. And that to do so successfully, we need to project ourselves 15 years ahead, to 2030, and have a clear vision of where we need to go, what we need to do, and who we need to work with to get there. This third path is “business unusual”, as coined by other colleagues at the summit.
For starters, we need to break out of the confines of “aid for development” and embrace the depth and breadth that the new agenda offers within a context of “international cooperation”. We need to better understand and engage with the universal nature of this agenda, deepening our engagement with Canadian domestic groups and issues, and further transform the dynamics between us in the north and our counterparts and partners in the south.
The implementation of Agenda 2030 presents many challenges, including the risk that it not go deep or wide enough to produce the truly transformative change that is so desperately needed. However, it also presents an interesting opportunity for us to build all-of-civil society networks around key development challenges that we have always known we need to build, but never had the courage or global context to do it.
On this morning after, I am optimistic that we can use the new framework to talk to Canadians differently about development, work with others and in different ways on key issues that are central to Canada’s and the worlds progress, and challenge our governments, the UN, the private sector and ourselves to do more and better for a sustainable future. We can do better 2015!
Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear from you! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.
The response to our Elections Toolkit has been overwhelmingly positive! Drawing on the Toolkit’s questionnaire for candidates, CCIC has reached out to the leaders of the five main political parties and asked them to respond to 10 questions to see where each party stands on issues that are central to the campaign (fighting poverty and inequality, promoting women’s rights, tacking climate change and universality). The results will be shared on October 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Not satisfied with waiting for their response until then, ahead of the Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy, CCIC organized a Thunderclap campaign to send one common message to the three debaters: How will Canada's leaders address global poverty, inequality & climate change through the new UN Global Goals? The participation was high –we met 200% of our target!-and although we were disappointed with having none of the leaders make reference to the Global Goals during the debate, the Thunderclap was still very useful to raise awareness about the Goals and engage in conversations.
A year-long campaign to create a national conversation on women’s rights in the mainstream and social media and put women’s issues at the center of the 2015 federal election culminated in an exciting event in Toronto last week. A sold-out audience listened to exclusive interview footage with four of the five federal party leaders– discussing a variety of issues including sexual harassment, missing and murdered aboriginal women, employment and pay for women, child care and democratic representation, in addition to detailing their platform commitments on women’s rights. The event, in partnership with the Toronto Star and Le Devoir, was broadcast live on Periscope by Twitter Canada. Full interviews with the party leaders are now available here. Visit http://upfordebate.ca/ for all campaign information and news.
Canada’s first-ever federal election debate devoted exclusively to foreign policy issues took place on September 28 in Toronto, with the participation of leaders of the three main parties, i.e. Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair et Justin Trudeau. The event was bilingual and the format of presentations and exchanges allowed for more in-depth comprehension of where parties stand on a number of issues than previous debates. The topics covered included Canada’s engagement with ISIS, the Syrian crisis, the trade agenda, relations with the US and Russia, among others. International development issues were briefly covered when leaders talked about dedicating .7 of GNI to the international aid budget (NDP still the only party to commit to reaching the goal, while the Liberals agree that we have to change the declining trend in funding) and the Muskoka initiative (Liberals recognizing that it is a positive program but we need to do much more, Mulcair insisting that services covered need to include access to safe abortions)
After long and inclusive process, on September 25, the United Nations General Assembly adopted “Transforming our World: The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) or global goals as they are coming to be called. (Take an hour to actually read it!) Although not officially part of the Summit, for many the highlight was Pope Francis’ address on the “right of the environment,” environmental degradation, and the exclusion and inequality it perpetuates. Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, gave an impassioned speech in defence of human rights; Ban ki-Moon spoke on how the poor and marginalized needed to be the primary decision-makers in development; and Malala on how world leaders must promise to make a difference. Hundreds of speeches were made in the plenary, interactive dialogues and side events, with countries as wide-ranging as Finland, Germany, Costa Rica, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Indonesia talking about how they will implement the new agenda. Sweden announced a High-Level Group of nine countries to ensure the goals are implemented at all levels of society. A new multi-stakeholder Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data was also launched, supported by IDRC and the Government of Canada. Next stop: implementation.
Register now and join the Africa-Canada Forum for its annual colloquium on October 21st: a day of stimulating and engaging presentations and workshop sessions on a variety of priority thematic areas. This year’s theme: Strengthening Solidarity: Building Bridges between Programming & Advocacy Work. The community partner is the University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies! A strong coordination committee is working hard to provide participants with an engaging agenda that can be moved forward by the Africa-Canada Forum and influence the activities within member organizations. CODE, the United Church of Canada and CCIC are also engaged to make sure that the colloquium is full of rich and thought provoking exchange.
The Africa-Canada Forum and Equitas welcomed René Claude Niyonkuru, from the “Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme”, a Burundian civil society organisation working to promote peace and human rights in Burundi. René briefed us on the current state of Burundi and the efficiency of internationally-led human rights and peace-building interventions. After a decade of relative peace and stability and a hope for a genuine democratic system based on power-sharing mechanisms, another very bleak chapter in the violent history of Burundi has begun. The small and land-locked East African country is back in the media headlines, expressing concerns and risks of civil war. Political and civil society organizations have called for peaceful demonstrations across the country and abroad. A PowerPoint of the presentation can be found here.
Denis Côté, Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Working Group (APWG) –and one of CCIC’s oldest staff members!- is leaving his position with the Canadian Council for International Co-operation at the end of September. Denis joined CCIC in 2009. He will take on a position as the new Policy Analyst at the Association québécoise de coopération internationale (AQOCI). Under Denis’ leadership, APWG has grown its membership, consolidated its links with DFATD and invested in new communications and learning tools such as webinars and e-bulletins. Denis has also been much involved in the work done by CCIC on the new Sustainable Development Goals. His versatility, professionalism and wonderful sense of humor will be missed by APWG and CCIC, but no doubt that he will still collaborate with many of us in his new role!
This month, CCIC met with Canada World Youth President-CEO Rita S. Karakas, to talk about its new program EQWIP HUBs: Powering Sustainable Youth Livelihoods, why it is important for youth to play an active role in international development, what the SDGs mean for the organization, and what is behind Canada World Youth longevity which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2016…among other things!
CCIC: Canada World Youth recently launched a program called EQWIP HUBs: Powering Sustainable Youth Livelihoods. Can you tell us more about this program as well as your partnership with Youth Challenge International?
CWY is proud of its new program EQWIP HUBs: Powering Sustainable Youth Livelihoods. The project is powered by the strategic alliance of Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International (YCI). As two of Canada’s foremost organizations focused on youth development, we bring 70+ years of youth engagement and transformational learning. This is a critical initiative on behalf of CWY and a highly valued relationship and we look forward going global.
A five-year initiative will look at the different elements that can have a positive influence on youth livelihoods, particularly young women. Through hubs located in urban and semi urban centres, the project will offer employability and entrepreneurship training that is responsive to local realities. At the same time, it will foster collaboration among local governments, the private sector and civil society to leverage local resources and create more opportunities for youth.
CANADEM is dedicated to advancing international peace and security through the rostering, rapid mobilization, and mission management of experts committed to international service. CANADEM's operations range from individual recruitments and deployments, to complex program-management and mission-management including election observation, humanitarian assistance, and governance capacity-building.
Forum of Federations is a Canadian-based international organization which specializes in capturing and sharing the best practices in federalism worldwide. The Forum serves as an innovative learning hub for governance challenges in multi-level democracies. Forum of Federations provides solutions which focus on local empowerment (decentralization), stable governance, and devolution.
WaterAid Canada works to transform lives by improving access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities. WaterAid works with local partners, who understand local issues, and provide them with the skills and support to help communities set up and manage practical and sustainable projects that meet their real needs.
On September 2, the body of three year old Alan Kurdi washed ashore on a Turkish beach. His family was just one of thousands fleeing Syria in search of safety in Europe, and in Canada. To date, Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees has been modest and processing rates rather slow. In the face of this mounting crisis, Amnesty International is calling on the Prime Minister and all party leaders to increase Canada’s contribution to the Syrian refugee crisis.
The Paris climate negotiations (COP21) will take place in December 2015 and are seen as an opportunity to turn the tide on climate change. World leaders will meet with the goal of signing a binding treaty to tackle climate change and solve this urgent crisis. Development and Peace is calling on the Prime Minister to make a commitment to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, which is one of the highest in the world. To learn more, watch this campaign video!
The Fellowship for International Development Reporting encourages journalists to push the boundaries of daily foreign coverage – which is often focused on disaster or crisis – and set new standards for reporting on the developing world. Fellowship recipients are provided with $25,000 to undertake a substantial reporting project which helps Canadians develop a greater understanding of the complex issues facing the developing world.
Good Soil is an ongoing campaign of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, asking the Canadian government to increase its support for small-scale agriculture in Canada’s international aid programs. Canada has a history of being a strong supporter of agricultural development. However, Canada’s aid budget for agricultural development has been declining over the past few years.
With the objective of making the Global Goals better known and more concrete, on September 21st the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Platform, launched a new series in Development Unplugged on the Sustainable Development Goals. The first articles focus on the broad outcomes, the process, and context that lead to the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the central element of universality and what it means for Canada. The following articles, to be published 3 times a week until early November, dig deeper into each of the seventeen goals.
In early September, the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation released a “Keeping Score” report, similar to a civil society shadow report produced in 2002 just ahead of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Each chapter looks at one of the 17 goals, assesses what it means in the Canadian context, how Canada is performing, and where Canada could be more, with some recommendations.
To better understand the level of Canada’s global commitment today, this new report by the Canadian International Council – OpenCanada.org looked at Canada’s “global engagement,” using combined spending on official development assistance and defence as a proxy to assess Canada’s place in the world. Canada’s global engagement today is the lowest in the G7 (alongside Japan), the lowest among medium-sized open economies and, according to OECD and NATO statistics, the lowest in modern Canadian history. In fact, Canada’s engagement is so low compared to its international peers and its own historical commitment that Canada today meets the statistical definition of an international “free rider.”
A new study from Global Policy Forum provides a comprehensive overview of current UN funding trends. It includes a summary of findings and policy recommendations that counters the new 'business model' of global governance with one that would make the United Nations really 'fit for purpose' – that is, fit for the purpose of providing democratic and inclusive global governance. Detailed and specific, the demands range from adopting measures to limit earmarked funding as a percentage of total funding, to strengthening the rules and tools governing engagement with the business sector, to establishing an intergovernmental framework for partnership accountability.
Just before the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs launched an online platform to encourage multi-stakeholder partnerships around the world and promote voluntary commitments to implementing the SDGs and realizing their targets. Its purpose is to inform stakeholders about initiatives, stimulate potential collaborations, and facilitate the exchange of open data to promote effective partnerships.
One of the biggest challenges associated with the new 17 Global Goals is about sharing them in a way that makes it easier for the public to understand. To address that, the UN has collaborated with a range of organizations and individuals on a massive public relations exercise to get the goals known. From a colourful set of new icons, videos starring Usain Bolt and Coldplay directed by Richard Curtis, to a music video starring African musicians, to resources for educators, organizations and the media, the resources are seemingly endless. Know the #GlobalGoals!
In this report, Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, has found that States and others often impose more burdensome regulation upon associations, both in law and in practice, whereas businesses receive more favorable treatment. The net result is that for businesses the enabling environment — defined broadly as action or inaction by States and other actors to promote a particular non-State sector — is typically much better than it is for associations.
According to Maina Kiai, a binding international treaty that imposes human rights obligations on businesses would be a monumental step towards changing the status quo. Such an instrument should level the playing field, empowering victims to bypass ineffective or indifferent state redress mechanisms and seek justice at the international level.
The Development Co-operation Report 2015 explores the potential of networks and partnerships to create incentives for responsible action, as well as innovative, fit-for-purpose ways of coordinating the activities of diverse stakeholders. The report – Making Partnerships Effective Coalitions for Action – looks at a number of existing partnerships working in diverse sectors, countries and regions to draw lessons and provide practical guidance, proposing ten success factors for post-2015 partnerships. A number of leading policy makers and politicians share their insights and views.
In a new report released this month “Enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Universal Periodic Review: A civil society perspective”, CIVICUS examines the experience of civil society groups around the world in engaging with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report, based on interviews with civil society leaders operating in diverse regions of the globe, provides a number of substantive recommendations to strengthen the UPR process to support the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society to promote and protect human rights.
The DataShift is a multi-stakeholder, demand-driven initiative that builds the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to generate and use citizen-generated data to monitor development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change. This is an initiative of CIVICUS, in partnership with the engine room and Wingu.
Inspired by the increasing citizen advocacy around international investment – such as scrutinizing treaty negotiations, intervening in investor-state arbitrations, catalysing grassroots mobilisation or promoting public debate- the International Institute for Environment and Development has released its latest publication that considers how to “democratise” international investment law. It reviews trends in citizen engagement with international investment law and distills lessons from this experience.
Results Canada recently published a federal elections toolkit, Turning Asks into Action. This new package offers concrete tools and tips to help supporters and activists bring attention to global poverty issues during the election campaign.
In his new book Yves Engler formulates a number of critics to the federal government, arguing that it has pressured African countries to adopt neoliberal economic prescriptions; that Canada played a rolein the violence that has engulfed Somalia, Rwanda and the Congo; and makes the claim that Canada’s indifference to climate change means a death sentence to ever-growing numbers of Africans. A recent article summarized the book in “Top 10 things you didn’t know about Canada’s role in Africa”.
For decades, Canadian charities have given voice to concerns of Canadians who want social progress, better health and a clean and safe environment. A heatlhy democracy requires that charities are involved in shaping public policy. A group of CSOs is asking all federal party leaders to fix our broken charitable laws.
A new report by MiningWatch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) links Canadian mining interests throughout the Americas with intensifying repression and violence against mining-affected communities. The report focus on case studies from Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Canada.
This new report examines the context, content, and functioning of agreements that companies establish with Indigenous communities for mining,oil and gas projects. It is based on interviews that focus on seven Latin American countries: Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Mexico; Nicaragua; Peru; and Suriname. The report identifies opportunities to create conditions for better agreements, as well as a range of challenges and research gaps.
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Canadian Council for International Co-operation