Archive for the ‘Civil Society’ Category

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

December 7, 2016

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

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

September 6, 2016

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?  (more…)

Measuring what matters

November 11, 2015

In Laudato Si’ – the Pope calls us to think about what we mean by progress.

Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.” (194)

It has been understood for years that we cannot and should not try to reduce progress or development to economic development. Similarly, it is widely accepted that success cannot just be based on economic indicators, in particular the narrow focus of GDP growth.

The reason in many ways is simple. (more…)

The SDGs and Pope Francis: it’s a wrap

October 13, 2015

This blog is a reflection on my time at CAFOD and the recent adoption of the SDGs, so it’s a bit longer than usual. While the real work for change at the national level is in many respects only just beginning, it’s a good moment for me to share some thoughts on what I’ve learnt over the last three years, what has changed, and opportunities and challenges ahead.

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The Sustainable Development Goals and Laudato Si’

September 17, 2015

Next week, world leaders at the UN will formally adopt 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty, tackling inequality and taking action on climate change as part of wide-ranging commitments to sustainable development.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis released Laudato Si’, an encyclical on integral human development which adds to the Catholic Church’s body of teaching. Laudato Si’ is unique in its intention to influence international politics and the multilateral agreements they produce. As a major UN outcome, how do the SDGs meet the challenge set by Laudato Si’?

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What if? Scenario planning for post-2015

April 21, 2015

CAFOD has written a discussion paper on potential scenarios for 2015. Download it here and share your thinking in the comments section below >> What if Scenario Planning discussion paper

Negotiations across three processes at the UN are now in full swing. 2015 was always going to be a busy year for multilateralism, with the Financing for Development conference in July, the Post-2015 Summit in September, and the UNFCCC COP 21 in December. Big outstanding questions remain on how this year is going to deliver ambition across multiple fronts.

Which scenario do you think is most likely?

Which scenario do you think is most likely?

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Inequality matters. The post-2015 agenda must matter too.

November 25, 2014

Next year, governments will come to the end of a long process to agree a new development agenda to replace the MDGs. A key demand from civil society from the earliest days of this process is that the growing problem of global inequalities should be centre stage of this new vision; many governments have joined this call. The MDGs concentrated on averages, so it was easy to hide large and growing gaps. The post-2015 agenda has the opportunity to set that right.

Growing inequalities are a problem because they undermine the very fabric of society. As Pope Francis tweeted, “inequality is the root of social evil.” Inequalities make it more difficult to break the cycles of poverty and exclusion, and move us away from a world of dignity and inclusion. Inequality is not sustainable; exclusion leads to conflict.

The richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as half the world's population

The richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population

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Digesting ‘Food for thought’ – the post-2015 roadmap

November 20, 2014

Following informal discussions on modalities for the final phase of negotiations on the post-2015 agenda, the Kenyan and Irish co-facilitators have released a ‘food for thought’ paper which outlines the shape of the year ahead. It’s framed as a think-piece and so open to change, but holds some important jigsaw pieces. While outstanding questions are still to be answered, it nonetheless allows us to start to piece together the puzzle of 2015. January to June is the final window to influence, before a series of high level summits decide our global development trajectory for the coming decades. Below is an analysis of the key points.

Updated roadmap with confirmed dates - 09/12/2014

Updated roadmap with confirmed dates – 09/12/2014

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Accountability in the post-2015 agenda: from the known to the unknown

November 19, 2014

A common mantra in educational theory is ‘moving from the known to the unknown’. Popularised by psychologist Herbert Spencer it posits that, in approaching a complex subject, individuals are largely influenced by what is already known to them from experience of their immediate environment. Effective learning starts with the concrete, moving to the abstract.

Could this simple principle be applied to the accountability framework for the post-2015 development agenda?

There has been a concerted call for the monitoring and accountability framework to be an integral part of the Post-2015 development agenda and not an after-thought.  But the debate is still polarised on what sort of accountability framework will deliver for people in poverty. Should there be a totally new accountability framework, or should we start from the known and move to the unknown?

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How [not] to run a consultation: lessons from the Data Revolution

November 6, 2014

This is a joint blog by Neva Frecheville, Lead Analyst on Post-2015 Development at CAFOD and Savio Carvalho, Senior Advisor, Campaigning on International Development & Human Rights at Amnesty International

The groundswell of interest and support for a new post-2015 agenda has been dependent on the global conversation that informs and influences governments and the United Nations (UN) in its endeavour to come up with goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Time after time, civil society voices have added new ideas, reminded government of their existing obligations, such as human rights, and pushed the boundaries of ambition. Most governments around the world now accept that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be universal, address inequality both within and between countries, and adopt an integrated approach to environment, society and economy, leaving no one behind.

From the High Level Panel’s whirlwind global tour, to the UN’s thematic and national consultations, from the MyWorld survey to the World We Want platform, to civil society briefings with the OWG co-chairs, outreach webinars and roundtables you would have thought that enough cumulative experience has been built by the UN to know what makes for an effective, inclusive and participatory process of consultation.

Apparently not.

Same story, different process.

Same story, different process.

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