Global Affairs Canada CSO Partnership Policy – A Brief Guide and a Call for Engagement

Global Affairs Canada CSO Partnership Policy – A Brief Guide and a Call for Engagement


The ambitious objectives outlined in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) can only be achieved in consultation with international and local civil society. Coherent with the Istanbul Principles and related frameworks such as the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness and the Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, FIAP is strengthened by a Policy on Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance (the CSO Partnership Policy). Constructed in consultation with civil society, this policy outlines and defines how Global Affairs Canada (GAC) will engage with civil society actors on the implementation of the FIAP across nine action areas.


Nine action areas include:

  1. Empowering women and girls, promote gender equality, and reach the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized as the most effective means to eradicate poverty
  2. Facilitating a safe and enabling environment for civil society
  3. Protecting human life and dignity
  4. Fostering CSO leadership in innovation
  5. Integrating the role of CSOs as independent actors into international assistance programming
  6. Establishing more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms
  7. Fostering multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance
  8. Engaging Canadians as global citizens in international assistance
  9. Promoting sustainability, transparency, accountability, and results

Policy objectives – CSO implications

The human rights-based feminist approaches of FIAP require fundamental shifts in the structures, policies, processes, and programs of civil society actors working with GAC. Many of these shifts require institutional prioritization and resources, as we learned from civil society organizations (CSOs) partaking in the Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative.

Integrating considerations that account for gender norms and existing inequalities as well as devising tools and processes that allow for more gender-responsive and gender-transformative programs is a sector-wide challenge that can be achieved through collaboration, predictable and inclusive consultations, and continuous learning among diverse partners. To support these efforts, GAC and Canadian civil society crafted a policy outlining the entry points for strengthened government-civil society collaboration.

The CSO Partnership Policy highlights the responsibility of civil society actors to consult marginalized groups, including women and girls and ensure their perspectives are integrated across all areas of program design, delivery, and evaluation. Specifically, organizations are called to employ human rights-based approaches and institutionalize gender-based analysis in all of their work. CSOs should also collaborate with local/national responders as indicated through the guidance A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action to strengthen the organizational and response capacity of local humanitarian actors as well as their long-term sustainability.

Implementation Plan

The CSO Partnership Policy is operationalized through the Implementation Plan, which lists proposed action for each of the nine action areas outlined above. To ensure progress towards the targets outlined in the Implementation Plan, Global Affairs Canada and Cooperation Canada have convened a Civil Society Policy Action Group (CPAG), which is open to civil society actors across the country. The two co-leads comprise the CPAG Secretariat, which on the GAC side reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch. CPAG gathers specialists from the sector, with each of the nine action areas co-led by representatives from relevant GAC teams and CSOs, who in consultation with broader coalitions formulate recommendations for policy implementation.

In 2018, CPAG devised a national survey, which informed the prioritization of: Objective 1 (Empower women and girls and promote gender equality); Objective 6 (Establish more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms); and Objective 8 (Engage Canadians as global citizens). The implementation plan for the remaining objectives were approved in 2019, offering a policy tool for CSOs working towards a range of FIAP targets.

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 response, which called for GAC-CSO consultations on urgent matters related to the pandemic and its impact on the sector, CPAG activities were paused. Given the usefulness of tools and commitments outlined in implementation plans for all nine action areas, CPAG is currently calling on CSOs to engage with the group as a platform for improving the effectiveness of GAC-CSO collaboration.

Next Steps

CPAG is re-convening in 2021 to provide an overview of the group mandate and the progress made so far, articulate priority areas for 2021. To support an accountable and a forward-looking approach, CPAG will also be producing snapshot reports on the progress made for all nine action areas.

Canadian civil society organizations are called to engage around the work of CPAG to ensure this forward-looking and ambitious policy for CSO engagement is effectively translated into institutional systems and processes. Stay tuned for information sessions and updates related to this work.


UnyimeAbasi Odong, Policy intern, Research, Policy and Practice 

Cooperation Canada launches In this Together: A Case for Canada’s Global Engagement

Cooperation Canada launches In this Together: A Case for Canada’s Global Engagement

A new report calls on the government to increase spending on official development assistance to support the global recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic


OTTAWA, ON, 8 December 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has displayed how deeply interconnected our global community is, including the unbreakable connections in public health, economics, and peace and security. Without proper investment in official development assistance, the ripples of this pandemic will not only impact the growth of historically disadvantaged countries around the world but also the lives of Canadians at home for decades to come.


Cooperation Canada’s In this Together: A Case for Canada’s Global Engagement argues the only path to a just global recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic must include a substantial and sustained increase of spending on official development assistance. The report includes a series of Together for Impact reports which highlight the value of investing in issue-specific solutions to global challenges like health, education, food security, climate change and gender equality.


“In the face of the greatest international crisis in a generation, a strong global response by Canada is not a matter of charity; it’s about progress that is of mutual benefit for Canada and our global partners,” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO, Cooperation Canada.


The case of Vietnam illustrates this well. The Government of Canada reports that, since 1990, it has contributed over $1.5 billion in development assistance to Vietnam. Within those 30 years, Vietnam has grown from one of the world’s poorest countries into a lower-middle-income status, with an international trade portfolio that includes Canada. Every two years, Canada makes as much in sales to Vietnam as it provided in 25 years of official development assistance.


This is just one of the many issue-specific cases from many countries highlighted in In this Together: A Case for Canada’s Global Engagement.


“Canada has historically prioritized international assistance, but today, as a proportion of the economy, the current government’s record on ODA is the lowest it has been in 50 years. We have the opportunity to change this as we navigate the COVID-19 recovery. Without a global focus, the pandemic will cut deeper and last longer” continued Nicolas.


A recent study found 79 per cent of Canadians agreed, that unless COVID-19 is controlled in all parts of the world, Canadian’s cannot return to normal life (Abacus Data, CanWaCH). Another recent study further found, by a two to one margin, Canadians agree that Canada needs to do its part to help poorer countries in their recovery from the pandemic (Abacus Data, Cooperation Canada).


Canada has the opportunity to chart a new path forward with investments across the humanitarian and development spheres to enable a global recovery while supporting its own. When Canada invests in its partners abroad, there are returns for Canada.


“The pandemic has shed light on the gross inequities that exist at home and around the world,” said April Ingham, Executive Director, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, Co-Chair, Cooperation Canada Board. “What COVID-19 has shown us, is that when we prioritize the needs of the most marginalized, we all benefit.  When we prioritize vaccinating the most at risk, the rest of the population is safer; when we invest in the poorest, economies are strengthened”


“During this period of global crisis, Canadians have come together to support their neighbours at home and on the other side of the world,” said Richard Veenstra, Executive Director, Mission Inclusion, Co-Chair, Cooperation Canada Board. “It is through a unified approach that we will overcome these global challenges. Canada relies on the wellbeing of our international partners, just as our health and wellbeing has an impact internationally. No one will recover sustainably if half the world is left to navigate the pervasive effects of this crisis alone.”


A global solution requires Canada. We are in this together. To discuss the launch of the report, Cooperation Canada will bring together champions of international development to join the virtual event In this Together: A conversation on Canada’s global engagement on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 12 p.m. ET (French) and 2 p.m. ET (English).


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About Cooperation Canada: Since 1968, Cooperation Canada (formerly known as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation) has brought together more than 90 organizations working in the international development and humanitarian sector. Cooperation Canada is an advocate for these groups by convening sector leaders, influencing policy and building capacity. Together, Cooperation Canada works with partners inside and outside Canada to build a world that’s fair, safe, and sustainable for all.  To learn more, visit



The Canadian Council for International Cooperation rebrands as Cooperation Canada

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation rebrands as Cooperation Canada

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Canada’s national association of international development and humanitarian organizations, became Cooperation Canada today – complete with a new logo, look and feel and new website:


Beyond the aesthetic changes, the Cooperation Canada brand represents one part in the constant evolution of our work to build a better, fairer, and more sustainable world.  As humankind
faces once-in-a-generation challenges in responding to the profound impacts of the global COVID pandemic and worsening climate crisis, so is our society awakening to the critical need to further defend human rights, end systemic racism and realize equality for all.


As our world evolves around us, Cooperation Canada has an important role to play in working with sector organizations to set ambitious agendas for change during a time when systemic and pervasive inequalities are being brought to the fore, challenged, and disrupted. Cooperation Canada is committed to championing an inclusive future and will continue to work closely with its members to make this a reality.


In the weeks ahead, Cooperation Canada will relaunch its Code of Ethics and Operational Standards for international cooperation organizations – a set of guiding and ethical principles that Cooperation Canada and its member organizations adopt for their work – updated after a decade to reflect best practice.  Cooperation Canada is also working on sector-wide commitments to address systemic racism within the sector.


“Our new name reflects our dedication to global human progress that is fair, safe and sustainable for all, and highlights our focus on collaboration between diverse stakeholders to make this a reality,” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO of Cooperation Canada. “It embodies our deeply held belief that partnership and solidarity can drive positive progress through collective action.”


Work on the rebrand began in 2017 when the organization applied to be the recipient of creative marketing agency McMillan’s “Betterful” initiative, which selects a non-profit organization and helps it rebrand by offering pro-bono work. After being selected for this program, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation embarked on an extensive consultation and brand development process with the agency.



The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), in partnership with Action for Sustainable Development and Forus, today announced the release of a new working paper, Transformative Action to Realize the 2030 Agenda Through Effective Coalitions.


While implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is primarily the responsibility of governments, the scale and ambition of the agenda calls for contributions from across society. Based on a review of multi-stakeholder coalitions from around the world, this working paper provides a series of good practices and evidence-informed recommendations that can be used to strengthen coalitions that accelerate and transform action for sustainable development.


Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber, the Senior Policy Analyst and Gender Specialist at BCCIC explained that the working paper is designed to support learning through practical recommendations and key messages supported by concrete examples and insightful lessons-learnt from coalitions on four continents: “When analyzing the partnerships that diverse actors are forging in and through SDG coalitions, there is a great deal that we can learn about how to work together effectively, inclusively and innovatively towards the common goal of a more just, equitable and sustainable world.”




Shannon Kindornay, Director of Research, Policy and Practice at CCIC, explains that “this research is really trying to help inform how these coalitions function so they can put their best foot forward to be inclusive, to be equitable and to really ensure that the voices of those being left behind are being heard.”




Deirdre de Burca, Advocacy Coordinator at Forus describes the layout and functionality of the report as “a handbook for people and organizations that are interested in partnering in new and interesting ways.” De Burca adds that “It doesn’t matter if you’re a government, if you work for a private sector company, if you’re a member of a trade union, if you’re a member non-governmental organization – no matter what background you’re from or what sector you work in, this document has something for you.”




“National coalitions like those that we’ve looked at through the report can provide a really strong infrastructure to bring together voices, and be a strong united voice, in terms of advocacy, campaigning, and the change we need to see in the coming years,” says Oli Henman, Coordinator at Action for Sustainable Development. What ultimately excites Henman about this report, and about the work of coalitions as a whole, is that the sustainable development sector is moving away from a hierarchical structure to one that is horizontal and that makes room for more voices.




Although any reader looking to develop partnerships towards the SDGs would benefit from reading this document, the intended audiences are civil society organizations, coalitions themselves and governments. This new working paper, released today, offers concrete examples of transformative coalitions in action and was produced in collaboration with BCCIC, CCIC, Action for Sustainable Development and Forus.


Transformative action to realize the 2030 Agenda through effective coalitions

Transformative action to realize the 2030 Agenda through effective coalitionsPDF

While implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is primarily the responsibility of governments, the scale and ambition of the agenda call for contributions from stakeholders across society including parliamentarians, citizens, civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, and the media. Based on a review of multi-stakeholder coalitions from around the world, this working paper provides a series of good practices and evidence-informed recommendations that can be used to strengthen the governance of coalitions in order to trigger accelerated and transformative actions for sustainable development.