Cooperation Canada Participates in the Department of Finance Consultation on Official Development Assistance

Cooperation Canada Participates in the Department of Finance Consultation on Official Development Assistance

In December 2022, Cooperation Canada responded to the Department of Finance consultation on Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). This yearly consultation gives stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the Department’s payments to the World Bank Group’s International Development Association, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, as well as the Department’s bilateral loan to Ukraine and loans through the International Monetary Fund Administered Account for Ukraine. In addition to providing input on two of the three guiding questions, Cooperation Canada’s submission encourages reflection on the effectiveness of these international assistance contributions. 


About meeting ODA criteria 

The first guiding question probes whether the Department’s ODA payments to the above multilateral institutions satisfy the criteria concerning poverty reduction, perspectives of the poor, and international human rights, as set out in the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act. 

Contributing to poverty reduction is one of the three criteria characterizing ODA in Canada, the other two being to take into account the perspectives of the poor and to be consistent with international human rights standards.  Cooperation Canada acknowledges the role of multilateral institutions like the World Bank’s (WB), International Development Association (IDA), and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) in global poverty alleviation, yet has concerns about the alignment of their operations with the last two criteria. 

Canadian CSOs have often expressed concern about the prioritization of financial returns over positive development impacts, which is problematic as this relegates the perspective of the poor as a marginal success factor. In contrast, country-led approaches  are often better designed to center the needs and priorities of the poor and marginalized  communities. Further, considering the perspective of the poor requires increased attention to gender equality, as women and girls are often among the most vulnerable groups that are the first hit by austerity measures recommended by the International Monetary Fund.  


About the Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s International Assistance 

The second guiding question in the consultation asks whether the Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s International Assistance helps to improve transparency on international assistance. 

Cooperation Canada would welcome reporting on balances in budget allocations, new budgetary additions, as well over or underspending levels. It would also be useful to see some indication on the future path of international assistance (both ODA and non ODA). Clear reporting on each ODA criterion would also increase transparency.  


General considerations 

Cooperation Canada encourages the Department to assess what type of Canadian presence across multilaterals represents the best value for money in terms of achieving development objectives and whether Canada’s current presence is rightsized. Another essential question is whether these multilateral institutions are fit to address the debt emergency. The IMF itself recently warned that failure to support lower-income countries in the current inflationary context would have severe ripple effects as countries are being forced to borrow more to keep their citizens from going hungry. This runs at cross-purposes with the commitment, under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), to cancel 100% of eligible debts owed by heavily indebted poor countries. This also gives motive to question the governance models in multilateral development institutions that seem to generate and perpetuate maldevelopment.  

Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead, Cooperation Canada

Cooperation Canada Attends the Third High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC)

Cooperation Canada Attends the Third High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC)

On December 12-14, 2022, governments, civil society organizations (CSOs), and businesses gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for the 3rd High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC or Global Partnership), also called the Effective Development Co-operation Summit. Established at the 2011 Busan Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the  Global Partnership is a multistakeholder network of countries and organizations united around four foundational principles of effective development cooperation: country ownership, focus on results, inclusive development partnerships, and transparency and accountability. Departing from previous aid effectiveness commitments made in Rome (2003), Paris (2005) and Accra (2008), Busan shifted the focus from traditional aid to development cooperation, recognizing the important roles of diverse development actors. 

The development cooperation landscape has significantly changed since the Busan Forum. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015 stressed the importance of tackling global challenges by using development assistance in a more “catalytic” way. However, global efforts to drive sustainable development are facing profound headwinds, from growing inequality to escalating conflicts compounded by climatic shocks. The 2022 Summit participants recognized that development cooperation must continue to take place under increasingly challenging circumstances and converged on the value and relevance of the four effectiveness principles. They also pointed to the need to attend to development cooperation trends and varied country contexts. In his opening address, Mr. Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation said that what differentiates us should not divide us: “Common values and a mutual respect are our compass. We must take responsibility and act together. This is the raison d’être of the Global Partnership.” 

Civil society delegates, represented through the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, condemned the dwindling of development resources and the slow pace of collective action. They voiced the sector’s positions about conflict and fragility, climate finance, and shrinking civic space at the Unmet Gala, a parade highlighting unmet commitments towards sustainable development goals. CSOs also acknowledged the Summit gains, including the emphasis on building trust to make development cooperation more effective, and the momentum in favor of a revised national monitoring framework. Beginning in 2023, the 35 countries that subscribed to the new monitoring framework should drive enhanced accountability, encourage inclusive and evidence-based dialogue, including with the private sector, and promote behavior change.  

Following the Summit, the CSO Partnership vows to further promoting multi-stakeholder initiatives that enable civil society to play its role in effective development. Here at home, Cooperation Canada will continue to consult with the CSO Partnership and work with its members and the Government to boost Canadian leadership in favor of the SDGs and in support of country ownership of global solidarity initiatives. Cooperation Canada welcomes Canada’s endorsement of the Donor Statement on Supporting Locally Led Development released during the Geneva Summit and looks forward to collaborating with the Government around effective and coherent approaches to advance development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding efforts. Canada’s feminist leadership can and will make a difference in turning words into the global action called for by multiple commitments, including the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (2011), the Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015), the Grand Bargain (2016), and the OECD-DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance (2021). 


Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead, Cooperation Canada

Want more information? You can contact our Policy Lead, Carelle Mang-Benza. 

HRN Thematic Event – Triple Nexus

HRN Thematic Event – Triple Nexus

As part of the increasing needs to respond to the realities on-the-ground, there have been calls for sectoral reforms to work toward a more holistic approach to delivering aid. Indeed, the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, or triple nexus, drives the different branches to work collaboratively toward the same goal, instead of working in silos. Following an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development-Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) recommendation on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in 2019, Canada has placed the triple nexus as a priority.  

In this regard, the Humanitarian Response Network (HRN) held a thematic event on December 1st on the topic of the triple nexus. The online event welcomed around 75 participants from a variety of backgrounds, including NGO, academia, and public sectors. The event started off with a session conceptualizing the nexus, then dove into more practical aspects of how to operationalize it. The participants were able to get a better understanding of the triple nexus by following case studies, such as how Mercy Corps integrates tools from all three branches of the nexus into their programming in Ethiopia. Given the amount of knowledge and expertise at the event, the day then proceeded with the sharing of experiences and lessons learned in smaller groups, and finally ended with an update from Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Throughout the day, there were also some good networking opportunities, giving the participants a chance to informally build relationship with colleagues from the sector and the government.  

In each session, panelists provided useful insights into the benefits of the nexus. Emphasis was placed on the way that the triple nexus builds community resilience by putting the beneficiary at the center. Discussions also gave prominence to the need for flexibility and how concepts like crisis modifiers contribute to adapting to events that are out of our control. In fact, seeing the complexity of how issues and crises are interconnected, adaptability is a crucial element. Aid is meant to change the paradigm, and the nexus is a structure to achieve this goal.  

This event was an excellent opportunity for the sector to use this line of communication to better engage with GAC. During their portion of the day, representatives from GAC provided an update on their triple nexus progressive integration workplan, dividing it between three task teams: strategic, operational, and functional. Also mentioned was the challenge of scaling up triple nexus programming from personality driven successes that are geographically confined, to executing the triple nexus across the board.  

As GAC continues moving towards a fully integrated triple nexus approach, Cooperation Canada hopes to see donors provide clear directions. This includes flexibility in funding to meet local communities needs and capacity, while the implementing actors adjust their activities towards an integrated approach involving and putting local communities as the central pillar of their intervention. 

Patrice Charpentier

Patrice Charpentier

HRN Coordinator

Darron Seller-Peritz

Darron Seller-Peritz

Policy Analyst

Cooperation Canada CEO’s Year in Review

Cooperation Canada CEO’s Year in Review

As we close 2022, and look ahead to 2023, I’ve been reflecting on the past year, and what lies ahead.  While many of us will be taking time off over the holidays to rest, relax, and spend time with loved ones, we know that millions of people around the world are not so lucky.  Ongoing conflict and famine, global economic instability, the rise of authoritarian and anti-democratic forces, and attacks on human rights and climate defenders sit heavy with many of us. My thoughts are with the brave people facing hunger, conflict, crisis, and discrimination as we move into the holiday season.

It is this inequality and injustice, and our belief that by working together we can make a difference, that motivates us at Cooperation Canada. I am proud of the work that Cooperation Canada has done in 2022. And as we look towards 2023, I am excited about what lies ahead, and look forward to continuing to work with Cooperation Canada members, allies and partners. 

I feel both humbled and privileged to lead Cooperation Canada. Since starting as CEO in April, I have been welcomed by many Cooperation Canada members to their cities and organizations across the country. I have connected with federal Members of Parliament and Senators to discuss Canadian global leadership on international cooperation. I have collaborated with colleagues at Global Affairs Canada on how we can partner and work together to enhance the effectiveness of Canadian international development and humanitarian assistance. I’ve learnt from, and shared ideas with, inspiring people working for charities, universities, think tanks and movements across Canada and the world on the future of social impact, international cooperation, and global solidarity. It’s been energizing and inspiring, and gives me much hope about what Cooperation Canada can contribute to in 2023 and beyond. 

There have been many highlights for Cooperation Canada this year, and working together with our members and others we have pushed forward several important priorities. We have advocated tirelessly for Canada’s charity regulations to be modernized, demanded the government change the Criminal Code to allow Canadian aid agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, developed our 2023 Federal Budget submission, and worked with Global Affairs Canada’s CFO Branch to enhance the efficiency and collective impact of Canada’s international assistance. At Cooperation Canada, we were thrilled to launch the Anti-Racist Cooperation (ARC) Hub, continue the important work of preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in international cooperation with Digna, and contribute to strengthening humanitarian action by hosting the Humanitarian Response Network and coordinating the Humanitarian Policy Advocacy Group.  I was delighted to see so many of you at our International Cooperation Futures Festival in October, and I look forward to more opportunities to connect in the coming year! 

The Cooperation Canada team has big plans for the New Year.  It will be International Development Week before we know it, and we look forward to connecting with Members of Parliament on Parliament Hill, as well as presenting our Cooperation Canada Awards.  We will support our members to connect with Global Affairs Canada on a range of priorities, including the Grants and Contributions Transformation Process, the new Indo-Pacific Strategy, localization, and development effectiveness.  We’re excited to look to the future with our members as we ramp up our Global Development Futures Initiative. And we’re looking forward to continuing to connect with our members through our Cooperation Canada Working Groups, and will engage our members on a process to review Cooperation Canada’s Code of Ethics. 

I am so grateful to the incredible Cooperation Canada team for their dedication and hard work this year.  Many of us are new to Cooperation Canada, and I am inspired by this team’s potential! I would also like to thank Cooperation Canada’s very committed Board of Directors for their guidance and support.    

I am excited about the future of Cooperation Canada and truly believe that our mission – to convene, coordinate and collaborate to inspire policies and programs for a fairer, safer, and more sustainable world – is as important as ever. 

Thank you for your continued engagement, encouragement, and support!  

Kate Higgins

Kate Higgins

Chief Executive Officer, Cooperation Canada

Global Affairs Canada’s CFO Engagement, Dialogue and Exposition: Cooperation Canada Takeaways

In November 2022, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) organized its annual Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Engagement, Dialogue and Exposition. The event brings together civil society and private sector partners with the CFO branch to share information, exchange on challenges and solutions, connect, and learn. The event was packed with useful information and exchange. I cannot possibly outline all the information shared but rather highlight some pretty important changes and points of information for which we should all take note.  


Improving the way we work  

The CFO branch is critical for all that we do in international cooperation with technical processes and procedures impacting our ways of working in both subtle and profound ways. This year’s dialogue covered a diverse range of topics and showcased some really important changes that are going to enable us all to work better and, where possible, in greater accordance with our values.  


Carbon offset credits will enable us to better work by our values 

In line with our shared commitments to combatting climate change, carbon offset credits are now an eligible expense for GAC funded programs. This is an important step in the right direction, particularly as organizations highlighted this challenge for realizing their commitments to climate change in 2020-21 Greening CSOs project. Criteria has been developed for admissible expenses in this regard, aligned with international good practice and the government of Canada’s overall strategy for Greening Government Strategy. Guidance towards practical implementation is forthcoming.  


The streamlined Technical Assistance Handbook offers simplicity and consistency  

Over the past year, GAC updated its Technical Assistance Handbook. GAC staff presented a review of the changes, including a significant reduction in the length of the handbook and a focus on simplicity and consistency; it is hoped the new handbook will be online at the start of 2023. Some important highlights include bringing technical processes and provisions up to date with the principles in the Feminist International Assistance Policy, ensuring consistency in the treatment of Canadian and staff recruited in partner countries, clarity on provisions related to duty of care and consistency for partners in terms of relocation and housing vis-à-vis GAC staff. GAC has also now catalyzed the development of a group insurance plan – which may be the first of its kind in the world – to enable organizations to obtain insurance to support their duty of care to employees. 


Risk management is an opportunity for transparency and capacity improvements  

Historically, Canadian organizations have not had a clear understanding of how the department assesses risk when reviewing potential partners and programs. At the dialogue, GAC staff presented the eight risk factors used by the department and the tools used by GAC to manage risk. Focusing on the criteria relate specifically to the partner, we learned what GAC is looking for in terms of 1) recipient governance, 2) recipient experience, 3) recipient financial viability, 4) corruption and fraud; 5) and recipient capacity and procurement. In addition, a later session presented a concrete overview of processes to manage fraud and corruption specifically.  

We learned that transparency is critical in the risk assessment process – the more information an organization can provide to the department, the more likely they will reduce their level of risk. Partners communicated that transparency works both ways and indeed, clarity on risk requirements affords partners an opportunity to improve their capacities. If organizations know what the department is looking for, they can update their policies, procedures and processes, and support one another through shared spaces like the CFO Working Group to identify best practices and opportunities for learning. CSO stakeholders called on the CFO branch to develop a checklist and further supports to enable partners to improve organizational effectiveness. 


Effective engagement and upcoming consultation  

The CFO branch at GAC is paving the way in terms of what meaningful dialogue and engagement can and should look like with civil society organizations. We all have much to learn from this model – for civil society and other departments at GAC. The November event was built with partner feedback on the agenda, space for questions and partner-led discussions and an exposition that allowed participants to speak directly with staff regarding specific questions for their organization. The dialogue was timely, informed and part of an iterative process. Our CFO Working Group not only inputted on the agenda and timing for the meeting, but also had the necessary information and lead time to prepare, identify priorities and develop recommendations. The CFO branch reported back on action points from its Spring meetings with CFOs and demonstrated accountability for action items identified and noted where constraints remain. This is what effective stakeholder engagement looks like. 

GAC staff shared plans to launch further consultations in 2023, including on overhead and advanced payments. The importance of localization and how that will interface with the Grants and Contributions Transformation initiative and beyond was highlighted as an important topic for future engagements. Cooperation Canada’s CFO Working Group will be an important entry point into these discussions and we look forward to building on the successful and effective engagement with CFO branch that we have come to appreciate and expect. 

Shannon Kindornay

Shannon Kindornay

Chief Operations Officer, Cooperation Canada

Celebrating World Futures Day for the first time!

December 2nd, 2022 is the first World Futures Day!

In this inaugural celebration, World Futures Day will focus on improving long-term resilience through futures and anticipatory approaches, including strategic foresight. Strategic foresight is also at the core of the Futures Project,  new initiative that Cooperation Canada recently launched with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The project aims to reimagine global development cooperation futures and inform the positioning of international cooperation actors in a post-2030 era when the Sustainable Development Goals will expire. We will do this by working with international and Canadian stakeholders identify, understand and think about alternative futures in global development cooperation to better respond to emerging challenges and strategic surprises. Strategic foresight tools and processes will be used to develop three plausible futures for global development cooperation (worst plausible, best plausible, and transformative) and consider their implications. Through this process, the project will also seek to raise awareness of strategic foresight tools among civil society actors engaged in global development cooperation.


Using foresight and futures literacy, we can question the current way we understand the world, move out from our comfort zone and expand our imagination.

Gabriela Ramos

Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO

Images of the future are a powerful force, influencing not only what we perceive and pay attention to in the world, but also shaping our hopes and fears. Perception precedes action. Understanding the sources of our images of the future is of great importance. World Futures Day highlights human anticipatory activities, nurtures collective intelligence processes, and promotes the research of futures thinking and its application in different contexts. This is a fitting opportunity for governments and non-governmental actors to celebrate and embrace new ways to envision the future. In October of this year, Cooperation Canada’s International Cooperation Futures Festival set the tone of our forward-looking perspective and thought leadership on international cooperation, preparing for a future that is fair, just and sustainable for everyone, everywhere.

Watch out for updates about our Futures Project and ways to get involved in this collective learning opportunity!