Friday, 27 June 2008
These and many other questions where raised at the conference „Are we on the right track? Paradigm review by civil society organisations (CSOs) as development actors“ which took place in Prague from May 14-16, 2008 and was organised by TRIALOG and CONCORD in cooperation with the Ecumenical Academy Prague and the Czech NGDO platform FoRS.
The conference offered the possibility for an open dialogue between CSOs from „West“, „East“ and „South“ and for reflecting together upon the principles which underlie the development work of civil society. Many of the 140 participants, coming from more than 50 different countries, stated that it was for the first time that CSO representatives from Africa, Asia, Latin America had the chance to talk in debth with their colleagues from the new EU member states and to get to know more about these relatively new donor countries. It was generally felt that there is a lot of experience which the „East“ and „South“ can share and that this dialogue should be intensified.
In his introduction, Justin Kilcullen, president of CONCORD board, successfully kicked off the conference by raising several provocative questions about the „tyranny of MDGs“, the division of civil society in different blocs, the failure to mainstream gender in development work etc. The key speakers from Brazil (Chico Whitaker, World Social Forum), Kenya (Rebecca Tanui, BEACON), Malaysia (T. Rajamoorthy, Third World Network) and Russia (Olga Ponizova, Eco-Accord) challenged development paradigms from the perspective of „South“ and „East“ and laid the ground for a lot of further discussions during the conference. In response, CSO representatives from new and old EU member states reflected on the challenges which were identified by the colleagues from developing countries. In 6 thematic workshops a number of development approaches was tackled and alternatives to the prevailing models were presented and discussed.
Several outcomes were collected on the last conference day and personal commitments taken by the participants how to work further in their organisations on certain topics. There was a lot of agreement on the need to be political: work for change, deal with power and tackle structural causes of poverty! The MDGs are a shame since they took politics out and replaced it by numbers and targets which leave half of the world’s poor in poverty. The need for common advocacy work between CSOs in the „South“ and „North“ was stressed several times as well as the need for global education promoting well-being and active citizenship. Burning issues such as climate change and the limits of growth need to be dealt with more actively; and many other issues...
The results of the conference feed into the strategic plan of CONCORD and into the strategy for TRIALOG’s future work. This year’s conference was the basis for a second conference in 2009 which will focus on practical steps and the resources civil society needs in order to reach development aims. The 2009 conference will actively engage donors, government officials, multinational agencies and others, responsible for shaping EU and global development policies. In the meanwhile, CSO cooperation and the debate on development principles has to go on...
Find the conference documentation (incl. presentations, video messages of the main speakers etc. ) at: http://www.trialog.or.at/start.asp?ID=155.
Information provided by Anita Bister, TRIALOG, firstname.lastname@example.org
France is taking the lead of Europe on 1st of July. This French presidency of the EU is taking place in a particular context, marked by the French rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by France in 2006 and the recent No from Ireland. Moreover, the European elections and the eventual entry into force of the amended Treaty will closely follow the French EU presidency. The future of Europe will be central in the debates.
The French national association ”Coordination SUD” has foreseen several activities to raise the importance of development cooperation, both at national level and, with CONCORD, at European level. Its presidency program is focusing on Europe’s relationships with countries from the South and more widely Europe’s role in globalisation. Future of Europe will be the cross-cutting theme tackles from different angles.
Advocacy actions towards French and European decision takers, communication and awareness raising activities will be carried out to ensure that civil society’s main concerns are taken into account in the official EU agenda. A manifesto for the French EU presidency by Coordination SUD, is presenting NGOs analysis and demands for the future of Europe and Europe’s relations with countries from the South.
For each theme, a European seminar will be organised:
- Development financing (1 July): in the context of the international summits on aid effectiveness in Accra and development financing in December in Doha.
- Agriculture and development (16 September): in the context of the review of the European budget and the re-evaluation of the Common Agricultural Policy.
- Climate change and development (25 September): impact of global warming on development in the South.
- International conferences on the role of national platforms (27-28 October) and on Europe viewed by the rest of the world (29-30 October, co-organised with CONCORD) with 80 representatives from all over the world sharing their opinions on different aspects of the European external policies and the role of Europe.
- Citizens, Europe and international solidarity (18-19 November): role of citizens in the elaboration of the European project and particularly in regards to development and solidarity.
- Europe-African relations (5 December): after the joint EU-Africa strategy, adopted at the end of 2007, it is necessary to carry on with the analysis and advocacy work that was undertaken under the preceding presidencies on this subject. The aim is to have proposals for a balanced and mutually enriching relationship between the two continents
Find soon all information also on: http://www.europe-solidairesponsable.org/
Information provided by Agnes Philippart, CONCORD
Over 230 participants from national ministries and state agencies, parliaments, EU institutions, European civil society, international organizations, local and regional authorities and research institutes participated in the European Conference on Intercultural Dialogue in Development Education. The conference focused on the implementation of the European Development Education Consensus in the framework of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
The conference calls on growing political commitment and strengthened policy in the field of Development Education, at European and national level, namely implementing "The European Consensus on Development: The contribution of Development Education and Awareness Raising" (see links below).
The conference had also many side events like an exhibition, workshops for children, youngsters and adults, a manifestation and press conference. The first pre event was the exhibition with the title: ''How do the people living in developing countries really see the impact of Europe?'' Photographs show positive and less positive impact of Europe on developing countries and how we can help developing countries without destroying their own culture. The exhibition was opened by Helena Drnovšek Zorko, head of PR in Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Helena has stressed the importance of strong civil society for effective national development policy. The workshops included many activities such as games concerning global education where participants learned about unfair conditions that some countries face and how can each person with the change of thinking and living contribute towards a better and fairer world.
During lunch time, 200 participants joined the SLOGA manifestation and publicly called Slovenian government and other European governments to start paying attention to development cooperation and global education with inclusion of civil society.
On June 12, after the conference SLOGA and the Council of Europe organized a press conference where the main recommendations and conclusion were presented.
Find the Final Recommendations of the conference at:
Link to the summary of the speaker’s speeches: http://www.sloga-platform.org/news/show/396
Find more about the European Consensus on Development Education at: http://www.deeep.org/
Further information about the CONCORD photo exhibition "How do developing countries see Europe": http://www.concordeurope.org/Public/emergingviews/Accueil.php?ID=4779&&language=eng
LAPAS presented over 30 copies of the report to the Head of the Parliament Foreign Relations Committee, the Head of the European Affairs Committee, the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, Head of the State Chancellery and other key policy makers.
In addition, LAPAS sent a letter to all of the 100 members of parliament to thank them for their participation in adopting the Law on Development Cooperation and International Aid (still underway). The letter urged them to remember that a law alone will not help them keep up their committments; financial support is needed.
May 22nd concluded with a meeting at the National Youth Council with members of youth NGOs. The heated discussion went overtime about Latvia’s need to be more active. At the end of the day, visits to the LAPAS website were double the average.
AidWatch activities culminated with an op-ed editorial in Diena, Latvia’s most widely read daily newspaper written by Mara Simane, LAPAS Director.
Cartoon by Ernests Klavins, accompanying LAPAS article on Latvia’s aid committments in Latvia’s most widely read daily newspaper Diena, May 23rd, 2008.
Visit the LAPAS website: http://www.lapas.lv/
Information provided by Mara Simane, LAPAS Director
Thursday, 26 June 2008
At the press launch on 22 May, Justin Kilcullen, President of CONCORD, explained: “A hundred thousand estimated dead in Burma, food prices rocketing and a woman dying every minute in pregnancy or childbirth. Now, more than ever, European governments must deliver the aid they promised to the world’s poor“.
The official statistics, released by the OECD in April (see OECD website) , showed that European aid fell sharply in 2007, with Belgium, France and the UK recording falls of 10-30%. According to the OECD: “most donors are not on track to meet their stated commitments to scale up aid and will need to make unprecedented increases to meet the targets they have set.” If this record of slow progress continues, Europe will find it harder to meet its target with every year that passes.
In addition, CONCORD’s report proves that European governments continue to “inflate” their aid statistics with debt relief and refugee costs. 15 old member States provided only 0.33% of their gross national income as genuine aid in 2007, continuing to miss the target set for 2006 of 0.39% of GNI.
The EU has committed to make aid work better by making it more predictable, better coordinated, accountable and aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. But NGOs are concerned that these targets are not being met and that more ambitious commitments are needed. Moussa Faye, Chief Executive of ActionAid Senegal, was also present at the press launch and the round table attended by officials. He recalled that “if you live in Senegal where one in eight children dies before reaching his or her fifth birthday, aid means services and services mean the difference between life and death”.
2008 is a crucial year for aid, testing the credibility of European governments. At the High Level Ministerial Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana, this coming September, the EU will review its progress against commitments made in 2005 in Paris. “Europe has a responsibility to take the lead at this crucial event by delivering more and better aid” explained Marivic Raquiza of GCAP South-East, North and Central Asia (GCAP-SENCA)."
Over 200 media reported on CONCORD's report and the demonstration, organised by CONCORD and GCAP that took place in front of the European Commission and Council in Brussels at the opening of an EU meeting on 26 May. CONCORD also met with the permanent Slovenian representation, which held the Presidency of the European Union, to voice its view.
Download the full CONCORD Aid Watch Report 2008 from: http://www.concordeurope.org/Files/media/extranetdocumentsENG/NavigationSecondaire/WorkingGroups/Aidwatch/Aidwatch2008/Light-Full-report.pdf
For further information: Jasmine Burnley, email@example.com
For video comments from citizens from developing countries on the fall in EU aid: http://www.concordeurope.org/Public/Page.php?ID=3083
Nothing new was announced in terms of the Western Balkans. The Council reaffirmed its support for the European perspective of the countries in the region, stressing the need for political and economic reform and underlining the need for recent progress to be consolidated, through the Stabilisation and Association Process.
The Council turned its attention to the Millennium Development Goals because of the importance of 2008 as a ‘turning point in enhancing the collective efforts to eradicate poverty in the context of sustainable development.’ The Council seems much more optimistic about the possibilities of achieving the MDGs than most other actors, although despite being convinced they can all be achieved, it does admit concern at current trends. ODA commitments were restated, and the member states are being encouraged to establish indicative timetables. Other related areas also covered by the conclusions are aid effectiveness, policy coherence for development (PCD) and Aid for Trade.
The compromise between the heavily criticised Barcelona Process, which has been in place since 1995, and the newly re-proposed Mediterranean Union, has been given the title Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean and is seen by the Council as an opportunity to ‘inject further momentum into the Union’s relations with the Mediterranean.’ The EU will consult its Mediterranean partners in order to prepare a joint declaration to be adopted at the Paris summit for the Mediterranean on 13 July.
The Eastern Partnership, recently proposed by Poland in response to the increased cooperation foreseen for the Mediterranean region, was welcomed by the Council as a way of developing the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and enhancing regional cooperation.
The full Presidency Conclusions can be downloaded from: http://www.eu2008.si/en/News_and_Documents/Council_Conclusions/June/0619_EC-CON.pdf
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
A process of discussion was opened up with the member organizations which resulted in the new logo (which you can see) and the name SKOP, standing for solidarity and cooperation. Another change related to SKOP's visibility and image is the current restructuring of the platform's website (which will become available at: http://skopmalta.org/)
Both public visibility and regular organization of activities for development organizations (for members and non-members), have brought the platform into closer relationship and dialogue with different stakeholders in the sector of Development. In the past years SKOP’s membership has also increased to 13 organizations whilst others are discussing the possibility of joining.
The above mentioned achievements were possible also thanks to a Presidency Fund project which SKOP embarked on last year. The support of the Presidency Fund has been crucial for the platform’s and its membership capacity building; giving them the possibility to engage NGDO organizations (members and non-members), the media and Ministries into advocacy on development issues, also raising awareness and knowledge about development policy issues.
Also the Platform’s engagement with CONCORD and support from TRIALOG assisted SKOP to slowly but surely strengthen itself, develop its expertise and engage in advocacy work in a more effective and professional manner.
Information provided by Mario Gerada, SKOP - Secretariat
Albeit the only genuine partners in development cooperation for the Romanian MFA over the last 3 years and the only active actors with some experience in the field, Romanian civil society organizations (CSOs) seem to have been once again overlooked. The long awaited opportunity for them to be offered effective support to become more active abroad and at home as promoters of development cooperation still remains a distant perspective.
Although the objectives, activities and timeframe of the programme were not yet defined at the moment of its launching, according to the first information that have been released it is UNDP Romania that will be the main actor in charge with promoting awareness among Romanian citizens on development cooperation with national ODA funding. It will also strengthen the capacity of the Romanian Government to disburse its ODA. Other „non-state actors” are also invited to participate to the trainings that are to be organized.
The decision to entrust this mission to the UNDP Office in Bucharest came at the end of 2007. It was the result of the lack of MFA capacity to directly disburse ODA funds within the Romanian budgetary and administrative constraints. This can be a great opportunity for the UN agency to contribute to the empowerment of local actors in development, as long as it will offer them the possibility, with national ODA funding, to implement awareness raising and development education activities. However, while, formally, both the Romanian MFA and the UNDP have already recognized that local CSOs have the experience and capacity to carry out this type of activities, both institutions have yet to prove their attachment to the principles of ownership and partnership.
In the words of the UNDP representatives, among other things, „the further expansion of ODA will bring several economic advantages to Romania, including procurement that will benefit Romanian companies”. Consultancies have already been mentioned as likely implementers for development education and awareness raising activities.
The launch event has ended unexpectedly and abruptly when the electricity went off and everybody had to leave the hall. As people were left in the dark, many answers have also remained unanswered.
Information provided by Valentin Burada, Romanian NGDO platform FOND
The strategy was the result of a process spearheaded by the Latvian NDGO Platform LAPAS that began with a seminar in August 2007 at which representatives of the Ministry of Educations Center for Curriculum Development and Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vidzeme University College, the University of Latvia, Liepaja Academy of Pedagogy, UNESCO Latvian National Committee and many leading Latvian NGOs discussed the vision for Latvia vis a vis development education for 2015 – the year that Latvia chairs the EU presidency.
This was followed by a series of discussions with stakeholder groups: teachers, media representatives, policy makers, those active in adult education, and the academics in which the groups identified the knowledge, skills are necessary for different stakeholders so that by 2015 they are able to play their role in the global development process. The groups also suggested priority actions to achieve this.
Latvia’s Development Education Strategy for 2008-2015 sets out the goals, performance indicators and basic directions for action. The strategy will be published on the LAPAS website and will be used as an advocacy tool until the government decides on adopting an official version of the document.
Ingrida Mikisko, Head of the Development Education Working Group of the Latvian NGDO Platform - LAPAS (Director of the Latvian Adult Education Association) represents Latvia in the Development Education Forum and will present the Latvian strategy to this CONCORD working group.
Visit the LAPAS website at: http://www.lapas.lv/
Information provided by Mara Simane, LAPAS
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
The process will ensure funding for significant numbers of rehabilitation projects in the Western Balkans, and foster the adoption of sustainable funding strategies for them. It was announced at a conference organised under the Slovenian Presidency of the EU: New Paradigms, new models- Culture in the EU External Relations in May.
Commissioner Figel said the initiative was part of the endeavours to ‘valorise emblematic heritage sites in the areas’ in order to build bridges between communities, ‘thereby fostering reconciliation, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in this part of Europe.’
Meanwhile, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), has launched the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF). This facility will mobilise funding for infrastructure projects, mainly in the energy, transport and environment sectors, but also for SME (Small and medium enterprises) development and social sector projects, throughout the area covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said that ‘concrete projects financed under this facility will bring tangible benefits to citizens of the neighbouring countries and the Union alike and will bring our partners closer to the EU.’
Links to original press releases:
Figel' launches landmark process for cultural heritage in the Western Balkans
More funds for vital investment in EU’s neighbourhood
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
At the beginning of May, Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite presented a proposal for the 2009 budget. In it, spending on structural actions for New Member States (NMS), the so-called EU-12, will be double the share it was in 2006 and up from 47% this year, to 50% of the €48.4 billion allocated to support cohesion across Europe.
More important than the yearly budget though is the multi-annual planning for the budget, the next of which will start in 2014. It might seem a long way off, but the European Commission is in the middle of a budget review, which is intended to feed into the next financial perspectives.
A lunch debate was held on 21 May by the Brussels-based Civil Society Contact Group, to discuss the financing of the EU – where does, could and should the money come from. Presentations gave an overview of the current sources that contribute to the EU budget, the problems surrounding VAT as a source and the current situation regarding environmental tax in EU member states. The discussion that followed looked at alternatives to the current sources of funding, bringing up the importance of finding a solution that is equitable and efficient.
Discussions around this topic will continue at Brussels level. NGOs, institutions and individuals were encouraged to contribute to the EC’s budget review.
Find more information about the EU budget:
View contributions submitted to the EC in the consultation on the budget:
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
Regarding Serbia, the Council welcomed the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and of the Interim agreement as important steps towards joining the EU. It reiterated the necessity for Serbia to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and vowed to monitor this cooperation jointly with the EC.
The Council welcomed the conclusion of the first phase of police reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is one of the necessary conditions for further progress towards the conclusion of the SAA.
More generally, the Council welcomed the Commission communication "Western Balkans: Enhancing the European Perspective" from March, and stated that the progress achieved in recent years through the Stabilisation and Association process should be sustained and made irreversible. According to the conclusions, “the European perspective needs to be tangible and more visible to the people across the Western Balkans”.
The Council also welcomed the Commission’s intentions to increase the number of scholarships for students from the Western Balkans to study in the EU, and the initiatives to step up support to civil society and enhance donor coordination, to support socio-economic development in the region.
European Council press release: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/gena/100227.pdf
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
The EC’s main conclusions from the progress reports are that since the end of 2006, economic integration has been progressing; mobility with certain countries has been facilitated; cooperation on justice and the fight against organised crime has increased; energy cooperation contributes to more energy security; transport links have been strengthened and countries in the European neighbourhood are becoming increasingly involved in EU programmes in research, innovation and education.
The reports are available for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, Palestine, Tunisia and Ukraine.
The reports were met with disappointment from certain groups, including the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), which called for the establishment of a mechanism for the systematic and public monitoring of the ENP Action Plans, allowing for clear benchmarks on which to base future Country Progress Reports.
All EC ENP reference documents: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm
European Commission progress reports: http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm#3
EMHRN response: http://www.euromedrights.net/pages/511/news/focus/52201
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
The European Commission’s DG Enlargement held a conference on 17th and 18th April on civil society development in southeastern Europe.
The conference attracted almost 500 participants from the region, who were invited to use the opportunity to network, exchange best practices and build partnerships. High profile speakers such as George Soros and enlargement Commission Olli Rehn started proceedings, giving way to panel discussions and workshops on particular themes, as well as a full programme of side events and stands.
Another of the conference’s main purposes was also to disseminate information about a new facility under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for civil society development.
The facility will cover three areas:
- Support for local civil society initiatives, capacity building and reinforcing the role of civil society in the candidate and potential candidate countries
- So-called people-to-people activities: programmes that familiarise journalists, young politicians, trade union leaders and teachers for example with EU policies and institutions
- Support for developing partnerships and networks between civil society organisations in the EU and enlargement countries to promote knowledge and experience transfer.
Participants were provided with a cultural programme in the evenings, with a concert by the Sarajevo-based Youth Symphony Orchestra of Southeast Europe and the “Balkan Film Days” showing the best recent films from the region.
Those who attended the conference were generally positive about the opportunities it had provided to network and find out more about EU policies, including the IPA. Common criticisms of the conference were that it had been a too big event and that some of the panel discussions had been ill-prepared and badly chaired.
Find documents relating to the conference at: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/civil-society-development/conf_17_18_docs_en.htm
Information provided by Rebecca Steel, TRIALOG
„There will be no sustainable economical development without a political solution and an end of the occupation in the Palestinian Territories”. All speakers of the conference agreed on this disillusion conclusion of Sara Roy (Harvard University). Although billions of foreign aid had been brought to the Westbank and Gaza during the last decades the economic and social situation today in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has become worse than ever. It was stated on the conference that the donors with their donor politics had become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. The foreign aid has helped to prolong the Israeli occupation of the territories.
As Maha Abu-Dhayyeh Shammas (Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling) pointed out: With the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) during the Oslo process the Israeli responsibility for the Palestinian people has been transferred to the PA. She also stated that the foreign money is used for the militarization of the territories, with weapons coming from Israel. This situation has a special influence on Palestinian women; they need protection which they do not get from the PA, as Palestine is not a functional state, where women can claim their rights.
As the UN-Resolution 1325 addresses the special needs of women in conflict situations, the conference asked how the resolution works in reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Siham Bargouthi (Association of Women's Action in Palestine) explained that within the last years lot of programs had been invented in the name of Resolution 1325 to support women’s organizations and to empower women for leading positions. But after the Hamas victory in the elections the donors stopped their support, due to the boycott of Hamas. International help was used as a tool for punishment.
The UN-Resolution 1325 asks for women involvement in conflict resolution therefore also Israeli women’s peace groups are supported. Gila Svirsky (Women for a Just Peace) referred to the tactics and problems Israeli women peace activists are facing in their struggle for a just peace.
The conference was completed by Ghada Hashem Talhami (Lake Forest College) with an enthusiastic speech about struggle of the Palestinian women’s movement under occupation.
Documentation of the conference: http://dp.vidc.org/index.php?id=161
Information provided by Magda Seewald, VIDC
Download the research paper "Dynamics of EU Development Policy after enlargement" from: http://www.trialog.or.at/images/doku/lightfoot_eu-dev-policy-after-enlargement.pdf (This is a slightly revised version of European Development Policy Study Group Discussion Paper 35, visit http://www.edpsg.org/index.pl or use the direct link http://www.edpsg.org/Documents/DP35.doc)
See also the article of Simon Lightfoot in BOND's April 2008 edition of "The Networker": Growing pains: development policy in the new Europe, Link: http://www.bond.org.uk/News/growingpains.htm.
Information provided by Simon Lightfoot, University of Leeds
Download the Flash from: http://www.concordeurope.org/Files/media/internetdocumentsENG/4_Publications/1_CONCORD_Flash/Flash2008/Mai-Flash-final.doc
Information provided by Mathieu Pique, CONCORD Assistant
For further information: Agnes Philippart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Information provided by Agnes Philippart, CONCORD
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Wico was also a long-standing and active member of the CONCORD Working Group on Enlargement, Pre-Accession and Neighbourhood (EPAN), which is convened by TRIALOG. The Chair and convenor sent a message of condolence on behalf of the group, as his presence at meetings will be greatly missed .
Th.E.M. Wijte wrote on the Kontakt der Kontinenten’s website that Wico ‘represented values like respect, dialogue between different cultures and religions, internationalisation and above else, he stood for hospitality.’ Wico was 61 years old.
The thoughts of the TRIALOG team are with Wico’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. Messages of condolence may be send to email@example.com