Implementing the SDGs: a new opportunity for civil society-government dialogue

December 7, 2016 by

With Agenda 2030 agreed just last year, 2016 marks the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During this first year, CAFOD has been working with southern partners to support implementation plans at national level. With 14 years left to achieve them all, one thing is clear: the process to implement the SDGs is creating new platforms for dialogue between civil society and governments. And the encouraging part is that in many countries, governments are actually listening.

Let’s agree that the SDGs aren’t perfect, but they’re still a great plan for the world. They offer an opportunity to do things differently. As CAFOD’s animations show, we see four transformational shifts with the SDGs: 1) they are universal, so no more “you there”, “we here”; 2) they give us a plan to integrate social, economic and environmental solutions (at last!); 3) they tell us to do all of this while leaving no one behind; and 3) to make sure that we do it in an open, inclusive  and participatory way all the way through.

A few lessons so far…

During 2016, CAFOD supported five partners across 3 continents to be part of SDG implementation processes at national level. Our support model follows three simple stages: 1) discuss, learn and understand what the SDGs are; 2) create the tools and structures needed to participate effectively; and 3) build strong and reliable relations with policy makers.

First SDG workshop organised by Caritas Sierra Leone to form Sierra Leone Coalition 2030

First SDG workshop organised by Caritas Sierra Leone to form Sierra Leone Coalition 2030

In the last months, some partners have been organising workshops for marginalised communities to learn about the SDGs or training sessions for journalists to write about them. Others have created new coalitions, or joined existing ones, to speak with one single voice. A few have done technical research to make sure that they have reliable data to better monitor any real progress and hold governments to account. Other examples include:

In Sierra Leone, our partners have created a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs). Sierra Leone Coalition 2030 is now the SDG focal point and the formal organisation to talk with the national government. Having a coalition has shown to be extremely effective. It has helped organisations to learn from each other instead of competing between each other; the government has formally included them in the process; and it has allowed smaller organisations (those usually left behind) to have a voice. (see @coalition_2030)

In the DRC, CSOs see Agenda 2030 as the vision for the future of their country, something they say their government doesn’t have – and something to “finally aspire to”. Some of our partners in the Eastern provinces of the DRC have been using the SDGs to strengthen their programmatic work by aligning their strategies with goals and targets. They say the SDGs are helping them link different areas of work that’re usually treated separately. For example, education and health with sustainable agriculture. And their government is listening. (see @CaritasCongo)

In Zimbabwe, our partners have been training journalists to cover the SDGs in a way that helps them frame complex issues for the public. For instance, the link between the current droughts and gender inequality could be explained better through the SDGs. (see @PRFTZim).

In Bolivia and Bangladesh, our partners are focusing on training local community leaders, women’s rights organisations, indigenous groups, trade unions or communities representing people with disabilities, to better frame their demands from a human rights perspective. Others see the SDGs as a useful tool to enforce existing legislation at local level, such as the Disability Act in Bangladesh. (see @redunitas and ADD Bangladesh)

Caritas Delegation at the UN HLPF in New York, July 2016

Caritas Delegation at the UN HLPF in New York, July 2016

In addition, CAFOD is also working in collaboration with the Caritas Internationalis confederation to ensure national Caritas organisation influence their governments on national SDG implementation in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana (see report).

The results are mixed, yet positive. Above all, they show one very clear thing: the process to implement the SDGs is opening new opportunities for good dialogue among and between CSOs and government. Seizing these opportunities and making the best of them is now up to us.

Joint working and collaboration is key. If you or your organisation is working on SDGs in one of these countries, drop me a line: dmartinez@cafod.org.uk

How the SDGs and the Church can help the fight against human trafficking

November 9, 2016 by

Written by Dadirai Chikwengo, who is a CAFOD partner and an advocacy coordinator for Caritas Internationalis

The Catholic Church has recently been demonstrating the leading role it is playing in the fight against trafficking. In October, Pope Francis met participants at an international conference on combating human trafficking. Later in the same week, young people from around the world were invited to provide solutions to the scourge of human trafficking at a joint Holy See-UN initiative focused on how young people can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The event was also a nod to the role that the SDGs and faith groups such as the Catholic Church have in the fight against human trafficking.

pope

How the SDGs aim to tackle trafficking

The SDGs provide a key tool to tackle trafficking. Five of the 17 goals refer to the issue: a recognition of poverty’s role in creating a supply chain of human beings. The framework’s focus on ending poverty provides an opportunity to stymie this chain.

Learn about CAFOD’s work on the Sustainable Development Goals

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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.

Find out more about CAFOD’s Policy work

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_CaritasSierraLeone

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)

Read CAFOD’s Sustainable Development Goals FAQs

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

shareaction

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 »