Working with faith groups: What can donor agencies learn from Germany?

September 6, 2016 by

Graham Gordon is Head of CAFOD’s Policy Team. Here, he reflects on what development agencies can learn from a new strategy published by the German Development Ministry for working with faith groups in development.

Photo 1 - Graham Gordon is Head of Policy at CAFOD

Graham Gordon is Head of Policy at CAFOD

Religious beliefs and practices are complex and often intertwined with culture. Faced with this complexity, many international donors tend to underplay religion’s role in development, or to use faith groups as instruments for advancing their agendas or reaching the most remote groups.

BMZ, the German Development Ministry, seems to be making a genuine attempt to do things differently and to engage with the complexity and tensions. Earlier in 2016, it published a strategy on working with religious communities as partners for development.

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The political drivers of the strategy are clear: the worldwide rise in religiously-motivated violence; increased migration to Europe and new migrant communities with strong religious beliefs and practices; and the rise of anti-immigrant political rhetoric across Europe and countries such as Australia and the US.

However, the strategy cannot simply be seen in the political context of migration and extremism, but also as a genuine attempt to think more deeply about the role of religion in development.

What can other donor agencies learn from Germany’s approach?  Read the rest of this entry »

How the Charter4Change is strengthening national and local humanitarian organisations

August 18, 2016 by
CAFOD partners delivering aid in the Philippines

CAFOD partners delivering aid in the Philippines

By Anne Street, Head of Humanitarian Policy at CAFOD.


In June of this year the Start Network officially endorsed the Charter4Change, an initiative signed up to by 29 INGOs, including nine Start members. The Charter4Change is an exciting step towards which aims to make a reality the recent World Humanitarian Summit’s aspirations to strengthen the role of national and local organisations in humanitarian preparedness and response work.

The Charter is a series of eight commitments – also endorsed by more than 125 national/southern based organisations – which pledges its signatories to change the way they work with and relate to national actors. This includes passing 20% of humanitarian funds directly to national actors, including our partners in project design and decision making, introducing our partners directly to our funders and ensuring that we highlight their work and role in our communications.

How working with government can help to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals

August 8, 2016 by

Edward John-Bull, Director of Caritas Sierra Leone

Edward John-Bull is Director of CAFOD partner Caritas Sierra Leone which has led on the creation of a coalition supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He attended the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development with the government of Sierra Leone, which presented its SDG implementation strategy for review at the meeting.

As the first major UN conversation since the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in September 2015 wrapped up in New York, it may have come as a surprise that a country left in a fragile state by the wreckage of civil war and Ebola would be amongst the first to volunteer its plans for implementation to scrutiny – like a footballer with a broken leg putting themselves forward to take a penalty.

Yet Sierra Leone is one of only 22 countries to have presented their strategy for the delivery of the goals for review at the meeting. A coalition representing private, NGO and government sectors is working to take advantage of Sierra Leone’s willingness to act as a guinea pig and ensure that the country ‘walks the talk’ on the SDGs.

Sierra Leone Coalition 2030 logo 1 (002)

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Caritas Sierra Leone, with the support of CAFOD, created the Sierra Leone Coalition 2030 in January. This has provided one strong voice for civil society organisations to influence the government in designing, monitoring and following-up on the implementation of the SDGs. We have three key activities: to ensure that the voices of people who have been left behind are heard; to educate people about the SDGs; and to work closely with the government as an instrument of accountability.

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World Humanitarian Summit: CAFOD analysis of outcomes and next steps

May 26, 2016 by

By Anne Street, Head of Humanitarian Policy at CAFOD

Earlier this week, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul. Representatives from the across the aid sector – donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross, NGOs, private sector, academics and high-profile aid bodies – were all in attendance, alongside faith-based organisations including CAFOD and other Caritas agencies.

One of the real positive outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit was the success of the localisation agenda. This is something CAFOD have been working on for a number of years, advocating for local actors – who are first on the scene when there is a natural disaster or emergency – to receive a much greater share of worldwide humanitarian spending.

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Three rules for donors: making sure public-private development finance actually works

April 4, 2016 by

Last year’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement on climate change represent a significant political shift away from a dependency on fossil fuels towards an era of development more in harmony with the environment. They broaden the previous focus of tackling poverty to include leaving no-one behind and tackling inequality.

Both will require billions, if not trillions, of pounds to implement.

With limited aid budgets, donor governments and global institutions have quickly set their sights on leveraging private sector investment as a way of plugging this finance gap. Aid budgets are increasingly directed towards participating in private sector projects, such as big infrastructure projects like roads, ports and hospitals; service provision such as schools; energy and healthcare.

But if public-private partnerships (PPPs) are to be used effectively to implement both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, donors need to keep three key rules in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

How can investors support the Sustainable Development Goals?

March 22, 2016 by


A guest blog by Jo Mountford, Responsible Investment Officer at ShareAction

The Sustainable Development Goals, ratified by 193 countries at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, lay out an undeniably ambitious plan for human development to be achieved by 2030. Although it was governments who signed up to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN recognises that it will be impossible to achieve these Goals without action by many stakeholders, working in partnership with each other. Of these stakeholders, the role of the private sector is vital. Many corporates have already begun making plans to contribute to the achievement of the Goals; indeed, some of them will rely on the strategies of major corporations. The achievement of Goal 8, for example (‘Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’) will require the private sector to create opportunities for employment, and making sure that their employees are well-treated and able to earn a decent living. Read the rest of this entry »

Too important to ignore

January 21, 2016 by

Header 2


The role of local actors in a Grand Bargain on Humanitarian Funding

By Anne Street, Head of Humanitarian Policy

The recent launch of the report of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing was eagerly awaited by many of us working in the humanitarian sector. The report itself is excellent, engagingly written and jam packed with ideas and recommendations, although most of them, to be truthful, have been around in the policy community for a number of years, including a number we at CAFOD have been promoting (on the future of humanitarian funding and financing national NGOs) . Its focus on investment in preparedness, resilience, localisation of humanitarian aid and the need to listen to crisis affected populations are all welcome. But how to make them happen? What are the financial enablers in all this and where is the political will? Read the rest of this entry »

A 1.5C degree goal means nothing without a plan on how to achieve it.

December 9, 2015 by
The climate talks in Paris, COP21, are nearing the end of the second week and the French Presidency is working to maintain momentum and ensure a structured process. The latest on the ‘Paris Outcome’, as it’s currently being called, came out on the 9th Dec at 15:00. Encouragingly a temperature limit of 1.5C is being put on the table, but it doesn’t mean anything until we get a clear plan on how the world would achieve it.

One of the big questions here in Paris has been around levels of ambition. Ahead of the talks countries set out in intended nationally determined commitments – or INDCs – what they are willing and able to do on reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Analysis of these pledges have shown that collectively they put us on a trajectory toward 2.7+ degrees of warming. There are increasing calls to ensure COP21 delivers an agreement that has sufficient flexibility to allow for ambition to be increased over time. If the deal agreed a long term decarbonisation goal, ensuring a full phase-out of fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100% renewable energy by 2050, there would remain an opportunity to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees and limit the most dangers impact of a changing climate. Read the rest of this entry »

CAFOD’s hopes for COP21

December 2, 2015 by

After much anticipation the Paris climate negotiations, or COP21, are finally upon us. It is no exaggeration to say that governments, businlogo-cop21-webesses, charities and faith communities have been working towards this point for years. Failure to secure a meaningful agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in 2009 made many decide to work differently, building political will from the ground up.

Much good work on communicating the urgency of the climate challenge has already been done, from Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 to Pope Francis Encyclical, Laudato Si’. This process will reach its zenith over the next two weeks in Paris. CAFOD, together with sister Catholic development agencies, is now attending the negotiations in Paris to represent the experience of our partners on the ground, advocating for a deal that protects the world’s most vulnerable people. Paris needs to demonstrate the international community working together at its best, delivering a binding agreement which can be assessed and strengthened every few years and ultimately delivers a shift away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy that protects the planet and provides energy for everyone, including the poorest.

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Do we need more coal to end energy poverty?

November 25, 2015 by

Cooking with bio-mass, Kenya

The climate threat from coal

The past week has seen a flurry of announcements about the future of coal in the run-up to the Paris climate talks.

Stopping support for coal is a priority since planned coal development would singlehandedly exhaust the world’s carbon budget, taking us beyond the 2°C ‘defence line’ against dangerous global warming.

Many organisations participating in the Paris talks advocate phasing out fossil fuels  altogether and switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050 at the latest to have a realistic chance of keeping well below 2°C. Let alone the  1.5°C threshold that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) want.

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