CCIC monthly e-bulletin: November-December 2013                                                About CCIC     |     Contact Us
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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT-CEO

 

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Julia SanchezOn December 12th, 2013, we were pleased to partner with DFATD in putting together a knowledge-sharing event with civil society organizations in Canada on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and aid transparency more generally.

The former Canadian International Development Agency has made huge strides in terms of data transparency since it joined IATI in November 2011, and it should be congratulated for its ambitious plan and implementation schedule in terms of publishing to the IATI standard. We hope that this ambition will soon “rub off” on other Ministries in the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, as well as Finance Canada, who disburse important portions of Canada’s overall Official Development Assistance (ODA).

As part of its commitment to the open data / transparency movement, DFATD is hosting the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting in Montreal at the end of January and I will be attending that meeting. The IATI CSO working group, in which CCIC has participated in over the years, will hold a meeting prior to the TAG meeting too – and Fraser Reilly-King will represent CCIC in that meeting as well.

At CCIC we recognize that data transparency “is a necessary, but insufficient precondition, for effective development” as the North South Institute has noted in a recent report on Open Data. And that ultimately what data transparency has to lead us to is greater accountability – and we know that DFATD still has many challenges on this front, in particular with its openness around funding predictability. We also recognize that as Canadian civil society groups we can do more to support more open and transparent data, including moving towards publishing to the IATI standard ourselves. In 2014, CCIC plans to start the process to do just this, in the hopes that our experience and increased knowledge will allow us to support other CSOs that see value in the standard.

The workshop held on December 12th was a key opportunity for civil society organizations to enhance our understanding of what IATI is and what it is not, to identify some of the opportunities and remaining challenges it poses to us as a sector, and to explore possible next steps as a sector. A short report of the workshop can be found here.

Some of my key takeaways are:

    • The prime objective for having a global standard is to provide access to comparable data to developing country governments and civil society groups in the Global South. This is an important objective and should be enough to convince us that the effort is worth looking into.
    • In order for this objective to be met in any meaningful fashion, there needs to be a critical mass of donors (countries and multilaterals) and other international development actors (CSOs, private firms, etc.) reporting using a similar standard (so that developing country partners can compare oranges with oranges).
    • The motivation for CSOs to publish data using the standard has to be clear and self-owned, otherwise the effort is prone to be given minimal effort or abandoned all together. The data seems to show that even though the overwhelming majority of CSOs that publish are in the UK, and DFID requires them to use the IATI standard as a funding condition, the volume of reporting is very low and probably restricted to what is minimally required and not what is useful.
    • We must continue, in the context of this conversation as in others, to underscore our particular needs and interests. The IATI standard, and other data reporting requirements, needs to be adapted to CSOs’ specific needs and conditions to make this a success. A protocol to this effect has been developed under the auspices of the IATI CSO Working Group. This protocol should be endorsed by all CSOs in this process as well as by governments who want to work with CSOs in a constructive manner to enhance data transparency.
    • In Canada, this issue might provide an opportunity for CSOs and DFATD to work constructively on a shared agenda – without the mandatory nature that Britain has chosen to follow, but rather by exploring the real benefits for CSOs in this process, including moving towards a DFATD reporting system that is based on the IATI standard, avoiding duplication of efforts and inefficient double reporting.

    In solidarity,

    Julia

    Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear about it! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.

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    NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SECTOR

    We want to know: How has the changing Canadian landscape impacted your organization?

    On January 16, CCIC and the Inter-Council Network have launched a survey to document the impact of the changing environment for Canadian international development organizations. The survey is an important follow-up to previous surveys conducted by the Councils in 2011 and 2012 in relation to the impact of the then new competitive funding mechanism under “Partnerships with Canadians Branch” (PWCB) at the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). While many of the impacts were known then, now two years later, it is very important for our community to be able to measure and report on the full impact of recent changes in CIDA/DFATD. Please make sure that your organization completes the survey by January 31. For more information, contact Fraser Reilly-King.

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    New Campaign: Protect the Aid Budget!

    On January 27, Engineers without Borders and others organizations, including CCIC, launched a campaign asking the federal government to protect the aid budget in the next federal budget – expected to be tabled around February 10 this year – and to make sure that all funds allocated to foreign aid are spent for that purpose. In 2012-2013, $370 million was cut from Canada’s aid budget, including $290 million in unspent aid money that was returned to the Treasury Board. This money was meant to support foreign aid efforts and could have made an impact in the lives of millions of people living in poverty, but instead went back to government coffers, which we think is unacceptable. To sign the petition and share messages on the campaign, visit the Campaign’s site. We are hoping for thousands of signatures before the budget is tabled!

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    Valentine’s Day Campaign: Show your love to CCIC!

    Since 1968, as the only national network of international development organizations, CCIC has harnessed the energy and expertise of Canadian civil society organizations (CSO) in the fight to end global poverty. We are proud of our members, who work on the frontlines of social and economic justice, humanitarian aid and democratic development, both in Canada and overseas. We are also thankful for the significant financial contribution they make to the organization, which has been instrumental in allowing CCIC to continue to thrive, after losing all government support in 2010. But we need to further consolidate our funding base in order to look forward to a sustainable future . One of our new initiatives in this sense is reaching out to our supporters and allies in the general public with a request for support. So starting this Valentine’s Day, we are asking individuals who believe in the importance of our work to show their love for CCIC by donating to the organization. Please let everybody know about this initiative and visit our homepage where you will find the DONATE button and more information on this mini-campaign!

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    How are CSOs in Canada engaging the private sector?

    Over the past two decades, Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) have engaged the private sector in a range of ways – through external advocacy and internal dialogue to influence corporate behaviour, and through programs on the ground aimed at promoting local economic development. But in recent years, how donors and CSOs can partner with the private sector – most notably the Canadian private sector – to address global development challenges has become an increasing area of focus and interest. This month CCIC launched a report that maps the different ways in which Canadian CSOs are engaging the private sector – drawing on 62 responses from an extensive survey that the coalition launched with the CSO community across Canada. The responses to the survey illuminate the great depth, variety, and complexity of different approaches, as well as the current and changing priorities of CSOs involved in Canadian international cooperation with respect to engaging the private sector.

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    Busy month(s) for aid transparency

    In December, CCIC co-organized a learning event with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and about 40 participants on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The goal of the event was to help facilitate a greater understanding of IATI and to discuss potential next steps on the path towards greater aid transparency. The event provided participants with a comprehensive overview of what is happening on this file, challenges and opportunities, and indications of what is to come, from the perspectives of CSOs, DFATD and the IATI Secretariat. In a brainstorming session, participants identified tools that could help CSOs enhance and harness transparency to increase development effectiveness. The report is available here. This month, DFATD convened an “Open Data for Development” event to do just this – bringing together around 100 development practitioners and computer programmers; it is exploring how the wealth of development data can be put to practical use. The event was held on the heels of IATI’s Technical Advisory Group, which CCIC attended and which was hosted in Montreal.

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    Plans for High Level Meeting in Mexico on development cooperation moving fast

    The First High Level Meeting (HLM) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation – the first Ministerial meeting since 2011’s Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness - will be taking place on April 15-16 in Mexico City. Under the broad theme of “Inclusive Development”, the HLM will discuss progress on the key principles that emerged from Busan – results, transparency and accountability, country ownership and inclusive partnerships – as well as issues related to Middle-Income Countries, the private sector, south-south cooperation and knowledge sharing, fragile states and domestic resource mobilization. Up to 100 civil society organizations (CSOs), including CCIC, are expected to attend the HLM, as well as a CSO Forum on April 14 with Mexican CSOs, focusing on inclusive development and the enabling environment.

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    APG Annual Meeting in February

    The Americas Policy Group (APG) of CCIC will host its first member meeting of 2014 in Toronto on February 4 and 5. The APG’s triannual meetings enable members to learn about recent developments in the region and to develop strategies for collective policy work. At the upcoming APG meeting, members will examine the impact of Canadian policy on Indigenous peoples in Colombia. They will also discuss the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement, in the context of democratic setbacks and ongoing repression in Honduras. They will talk, as well, about the ongoing search for justice in relation to violations committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict, as well as the struggle for self-determination in relation to Canadian mining in the country. A special thanks to the United Church of Canada for hosting the APG meeting!

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    Guatemala: Canada Must Break Its Silence

    On December 16, 2013 the Americas Policy Group (APG) of CCIC issued an open letter calling on the Canadian government to make a statement in support of a timely resolution of the Rios Montt genocide trial. Thus far, APG has not received a response. Recent setbacks which put into question the future of the trial emphasize the dire need for Canada to join other important actors in the international community calling for perpetrators of the genocide to be held accountable.

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    APWG’s work on Bangladesh

    In December 2013, the Asia-Pacific Working Group (APWG) of CCIC hosted a webinar with Kalpona Akter, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, titled “Rana Plaza Disaster – How Can Canada Promote Human Rights in Bangladesh? A Discussion with the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity“. This event was co-organized by Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Maquila Solidarity Network and the Public Service Alliance of Canada Social Justice Fund. The recording is available here. CCIC and APWG also signed onto a joint open letter to Canadian retailers and Brands to encourage them to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh instead of joining a company-controlled initiative known as the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

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    New on CCIC’s blog

    Following up on the visit to Canada of Kalpona Akter, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity, and 8 months after the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza eight-story commercial building in Bangladesh, Kimberly MacMillan, co-coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Working Group at CCIC shared her take away on how to improve workers conditions in the garment industry. And on December 5, the sad anniversary day of the Montreal Polytechnique killing, Jessica Tomlin, the Executive Director at MATCH International Women’s Fund, published an article on the importance of investing in organizations and projects that tackle violence against women, both here and abroad, and on the constructive and leadership role that Canada can play.

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    Coalition Profile: Climate Action Network

    (To advance its policy agenda, support existing networks and have a greater impact, CCIC is involved in many coalitions. Each month we will be featuring one of them in Flash! so that you can get involved with them too.)

    Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada is composed of over 85 member organizations from across the country. Climate Action Network Canada is the only organization in the country with a mandate to promote the climate movement as a whole, rather than the interests and programs of any one organization. CCIC President-CEO Julia Sanchez sits on the board of Climate Action Network. Climate Action Network Canada is working to:

    • Ensure Canada sets goals and adopts policies to end its dependence on fossil fuels, in particular the tar sands, and reduce its greenhouse gas pollution;
    • Push Canada to do its fair share to help developing countries as well as vulnerable regions in Canada to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to adopt clean energy technology;
    • Encourage Canada to put in place meaningful policies to support and invest in safe, clean and reliable renewable energy while creating clean energy jobs to make Canada a leader in the clean energy economy;
    • Support provincial and municipal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and invest in safe, clean, and renewable energy technology.

    To learn more about CAN’s activities or to join the network, just click here

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    MEMBER PROFILE: Aga Khan Foundation Canada

    AKFC

    Members of a community-based savings group meet as part of a food security
    and incomes program supported by AKFC and DFATD in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.


    This month CCIC !


    CCIC: Aga Khan Foundation Canada is part of the Aga Khan Development Network; can you tell us more about the scope, the role and the mandate of that network?

    The Aga Khan Development Network is a worldwide group of development agencies with individual mandates that range from the fields of health and education to architecture, rural development, and the promotion of private sector enterprise. Together, the AKDN's institutions and programs work towards a common goal: to build a civil society that responds to the challenges of social, economic and cultural change and to improve the quality of life of poor, marginalized populations. Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is a registered Canadian charity, established in 1980 as an agency of the AKDN. We work in Asia and Africa to find sustainable solutions to the complex problems causing global poverty.

    Read the full interview...

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    CCIC MEMBERS IN ACTION

    Good Enough to Eat? How Countries Line Up at the Global Food Table

    Oxfam Canada has released “Good Enough to Eat” – a global food index that looks at whether people have enough to eat. The index takes into account food quality, affordability, and dietary health in 125 countries.

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    Over One-Quarter Million People Side with Costa Rica in Imminent Battle with Canadian Company Infinito Gold

    A petition circulating on sumofus.org rapidly obtained almost 300,000 signatures In December 2013. The petition, distributed in both English and Spanish, calls on Calgary-based Infinito Gold to stop threatening Costa Rica with a $1 billion lawsuit over the Crucitas mine project near the border with Nicaragua and the San Juan River. A separate communiqué signed by a handful of Canadian non-governmental organizations —including MiningWatch Canada— about the same issue also asks the Canadian government to “revise or renegotiate its existing trade and investment agreements”. Embassy released an article highlighted the huge success of both initiatives.

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    WORTH A LOOK

    “Un seul monde”: A new blog about international cooperation and solidarity, Huffington Post Quebec

    Un seul monde is the first blog in Quebec about international cooperation and solidarity. The Huffington Post Quebec, in partnership with the Observatoire sur la coopération internationale of the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en développement international et société (CIRDIS) as well as the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI), will officially launch the blog “Un seul monde” on February 5th at UQAM. To register, please click here. The first article has been published last week and explains how and why this blog has been created.

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    New publication by the OECD

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has released its annual “Development Co-operation Report– Ending Poverty”, which acts as a key reference document for statistics and analysis on trends in international aid.

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    Dirty hands?

    In December, Facing Finance, a not-for profit campaign, published a report entitled “Dirty Profits”, which profiles a series of European Countries, receiving support from various financial institutions, and that are in violation of specific internationals human rights standards.

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    Quebec will be hosting the World Social Forum in August 2016

    The province of Quebec – and more specifically the town of Montreal – will welcome the World Social Forum in August 2016. This is the first time that the WSF will be held in a northern country. The Forums typically bring together between 60,000 to 150,000 activists from around the world.

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    New publication on international cooperation in solidarity

    Paul Cliche, lecturer and researcher at the Université de Montréal, as well as consultant with the AQOCI, published a book (in French) entitled “La coopération internationale solidaire : plus pertinente que jamais”, which examines the consequences of the neoliberal development model, presenting the fragile situation of international cooperation organizations in Quebec in the context of the crisis of cooperation and solidarity in the North, but also showing the vitality of Southern civil society organizations which have been successful in positively transforming society. 

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    If you have an item for Flash, send it by e-mail to Chantal Havard. Please note that Flash items should be no longer than one paragraph.