Friday, 30 November 2007

Act in Europe with the Global Call to action against poverty (GCAP)

The quantity and quality of aid from rich countries is inadequate and promises of debt cancellation have not yet materialised. Rich countries have yet to act on their repeated pledges to tackle unfair trade rules and practices. Galvanised by this imperative, a group of civil society actors including NGOs, international networks, social movements, trade unions, women’s organisations, faith-based and youth groups and other civil society actors launched the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) in September 2004.

GCAP has adopted the white band as its official international symbol – a symbol that has been seen on the arms of millions of people in many countries, highlighting that the war against the injustice brought on by poverty and inequality is not confined to a few activists but is, in fact, a global phenomenon. In many countries, national GCAP coalitions have been built, and GCAP has become increasingly present in the Global South. On the Global Day of Action, on 17 October 2006 (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty), GCAP mobilised 23.5 million citizens around the world to demonstrate against poverty and inequality.

In 2007, the GCAP decided to keep the coalition alive till 2015 to see the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It is establishing minimum procedures to ensure accountability and good governance within GCAP and is elaborating a three-year strategic framework so that the organisation can foresee their actions.

GCAP is here to last. So why not joint the coalition? If you are part of it, start thinking about your next action plans: ideas, means, themes of campaigns or of advocacy. It is possible to make things change.

At European level, the Call to Action Against Poverty gave a decisive push to European member states’ aid commitments in 2005. Since 2007, there is "GCAP Europe Secretariat", hosted by the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD), which is helping building up momentum of the call to action in Europe. Currently, GCAP Europe is reflecting on common plans/activities in order to bring all the European voices together to echo politically at national and regional levels.

For example, in 2007, CONCORD’s Aid Watch Report Launch in 2007 – supported by GCAP coalitions in Spain, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Greece, Portugal and Slovenia, to name but a few – embodies the type of action the European campaigners would like to integrate into the strategy and translate on the ground through creative activities. A new report will be elaborated in 2008 to monitor the reality of Aid delivered by the European countries. The help of all national associations will be needed to produce and launch the report. This year, October 17th has been also the big mobilisation day for GCAP. Millions of citizens around the world raised their voices together to demand concrete steps to end poverty and inequality. A lot of action took place in Europe: see CONCORD marked this day of action with the launch of a photo exhibition in the European Parliament which highlights the impact of Europe on the developing world (see separate article in this TIS).

What’s next? Get prepared, in 2009, the election of the European Parliament and the G8 Summit in Italy, will be two key moments towards which the GCAP Europe supporters intend to act in solidarity. Historically, development NGOs in Europe have developed many ways of influencing positively the lives of people and communities living in poverty. NGOs support and implement many concrete projects and programmes, raise awareness on development issues in Europe and persuade political decision-makers of the need to give external policies a clear pro-poor focus. In recent years, big efforts have been made to coordinate and articulate these three aspects of NGO work better in order to achieve more impact and effectiveness. Together, we can make a change!

All European organisations are welcome to join GCAP Europe. For more information, contact Julien Vaissier at:
See also the article on GCAP actions in Malta in this TIS.

Information provided by Agnes Philippart, CONCORD

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