All Eyes on Canada to #FightForWhatCounts

All Eyes on Canada to #FightForWhatCounts

*Guest article by Leigh Raithby, Results Canada

 

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, its impacts on communities are still emerging, as the world copes with the loss of millions of lives and livelihoods.

While the world rethinks what victory over the virus looks like, what remains clear is the need for a collective roadmap for equitable recovery and to prepare for the next pandemic. Fortunately, there are existing mechanisms that are well-equipped to support the world in building this – entities that have the knowledge, expertise, and global networks necessary to respond to the pandemic, recover from its effects, and prepare for future threats. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is one such mechanism that has two decades of experience in combatting the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, and, more recently, contributed significantly to the global COVID-19 response. The result: 50 million lives have been saved.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the world was unprepared, but existing tools and infrastructure for other diseases like tuberculosis (TB), helped jump-start a global response. However, with diversion of resources away from longstanding infectious diseases to address COVID-19, the world witnessed are resurgence of HIV, TB and malaria. The number of TB deaths globally increased for the first time since 2005 – with a staggering 1.5 million deaths in 2020. There were 69,000 more deaths from malaria in 2020, compared to 2019.  In response, the Global Fund doubled down efforts to help countries respond to the new virus, mitigate its impact on lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria services, and make urgent improvements to health systems. Through these efforts, Global Fund-supported programs have begun to slowly recover from the setbacks caused by COVID-19.

Now more than ever, it is critical that the Global Fund receives the support necessary to continue this important work and get the world back on track to ending the epidemics. Earlier this year, the Global Fund released its investment case for its Seventh Replenishment, calling on donors to help reach the USD$18 billion – the minimum needed to save an estimated 20 million more lives. Due to increased need amid the pandemic, this is about 30% higher than the $14 billion raised at the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment in October 2019.

Since this call for funding, civil society organizations in Canada have rallied alongside other organizations from around the world to ensure that donor countries meet the required figure. Among our G7 allies, we have seen the United States, Germany, and Japan announce their support for the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment by committing to increase their pledges by 30% from the previous funding cycle. Advocates in Canada are now looking to our government to follow suit.

A coalition of 14 civil society organizations across Canada, including Results Canada, have been at the forefront of this campaign, joining forces to ensure that Canada steps up as leader at this critical moment. Over the past several months, the coalition has engaged in various advocacy activities to make our ask of Canada loud and clear – CAD$1.2 billion to the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment, not a penny less. Canadian partners kicked off the campaign with a Week of Action back in May, where participants from across the country met with 40 parliamentarians to gain their support for Canada’s investment in the Global Fund. The coalition then took to the streets at Toronto Pride Parade and, more recently, at Ottawa Pride to show our collective support of the Global Fund, emphasizing the partnership’s efforts to protect the LGBTQ+ community. In July, coalition members attended the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, where we continued to advocate for a fully funded Global Fund. The efforts of this coalition have secured parliamentary support from 50 Members of Parliament and Senators from across all political parties, who see that the Global Fund is critical to ensuring health equity for all.

After months of advocacy, the coalition of Canadian civil society organizations, alongside citizen advocates from across the country and affected communities around the world, are looking to Canada to step up with CAD$1.2 billion at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in New York City next week. There is no option but to invest strongly in the Global Fund, as millions of lives depend on it. Your move, Canada.

Leigh Raithby

Leigh Raithby

Policy and Advocacy Officer, Results Canada

Partnering for the International Cooperation Futures Festival

Partnering for the International Cooperation Futures Festival

On October 17-20, 2022, Cooperation Canada will host the International Cooperation Futures Festival at the Shaw Centre, located on the unceded and unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, colonially known as Ottawa, Canada. The festival’s ambition is to inject new ideas and energy into Canada’s international cooperation ecosystem by re-connecting us while also providing opportunities to learn from and connect with Canadian and global change-makers. Focused on international cooperation futures, the conference will examine the state of the world and the disruptors and trends significantly impacting our shared future.

Cooperation Canada has a long history of partnering with members and beyond to deliver thought-provoking events. We are excited to announce that several key partners from the international cooperation sector have joined us to make the festival a huge success. We warmly thank the following organizations…

 

Gold Partners

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Silver Partners

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Bronze Partners

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Decriminalizing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan

Decriminalizing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan

Following the retreat of NATO forces and the subsequent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan one year ago, living conditions have deteriorated for people in Afghanistan. In part, the current humanitarian crisis stems from long-standing issues: natural disasters, climate change, conflict, and bad governance. Taliban rule is clearly having a profound impact, with catastrophic consequences for women and children, many of whom continue to courageously defy authority and fight for their rights. On top of this, and in the context of a global hunger crisis, international sanctions placed on Afghanistan are playing a role in pushing many Afghan families to the brink of starvation. Afghanistan is on the verge of a catastrophic famine and millions of lives are at stake.  

International sanctions should not criminalize humanitarian assistance. In line with international consensus that individuals and entities associated with the Taliban are a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan, Canada’s anti-terror legislation prevents any payment to the Taliban for operations or taxation. This is because this is perceived as support to a terrorist organization. The problem is that barring such transactions, which are necessary to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, means that many Canadian organizations have been forced to delay or abandon life-saving humanitarian aid delivery in Afghanistan, as they fear prosecution by the Canadian government. 

Canada is maintaining harmful sanctions despite more than 24 million people in Afghanistan requiring immediate humanitarian assistance. Soon after the Taliban takeover, the international community recognized that sanctions were badly hurting Afghan families. As such, the United Nations passed a resolution that called for UN member states to adjust their domestic regulations to make humanitarian exceptions to sanctions against the Taliban (Resolution 2615). Many of Canada’s allies – including Australia, the EU, the UK, and the US – followed suit, adopting exemption measures that enables humanitarian agencies to continue their operations in Afghanistan without the real risk of criminal prosecution. Canada has not. 

After investing almost four billion dollars in Afghanistan in humanitarian assistance between 2001 and 2021, Canada’s inaction in removing legislative barriers threatens to reverse the gains achieved during this time. Impeding the ability for Canadian humanitarian agencies to provide critical services is not in Canada’s best interest. Worst, it signals a lack of political will and tunnel vision in international leadership.  

A coalition of humanitarian organizations is calling on Canada to act now and remove the legal barriers preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. This includes sanctions exemptions so Canadian organizations will not face prosecution by providing humanitarian assistance, as well as amendments to the Criminal Code’s anti-terrorism provisions. Discussions with the government over the past year have not resulted in change. It is now time for Canadians to push the government to do the right thing. The Aid for Afghanistan campaign is about helping Afghan families and not forcing them to pay the ultimate price for who is in power in their country. Canadian humanitarian agencies have operated in Afghanistan for decades and stand ready to deliver humanitarian assistance to those who need it most.  

 

 

Partnering for the International Cooperation Futures Festival

Cooperation Canada’s International Cooperation Futures Festival 

On October 17-20, 2022, Cooperation Canada will host the International Cooperation Futures Festival at the Shaw Centre, located on the unceded and unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, colonially known as Ottawa, Canada. The festival’s ambition is to inject new ideas and energy into Canada’s international cooperation ecosystem by re-connecting us while also providing opportunities to learn from and connect with Canadian and global change-makers. Focused on international cooperation futures, the conference will examine the state of the world and the disruptors and trends significantly impacting our shared future.

Why Attend?

The festival will reconnect stakeholders in Canada and globally, with opportunities for networking, quiet conversation and making new connections with like-minded individuals and organizations, as well as those who challenge the way you think! Festival themes and session formats will provide opportunities for unlearning and learning, and envisioning a better future.

 

Find out more on the festival, the program and the speakers by following the link below!

 

Become an International Cooperation Futures Festival Partner! 

Become an International Cooperation Futures Festival Partner! 

October 17-20, 2022

Become an International Cooperation Futures Festival Partner! 

 

You’ve marked your calendars already, and you’re getting excited for our Festival? Help us make it even better!

Cooperation Canada is pleased to release its International Cooperation Futures Festival Partnership Package.

As you know, Cooperation Canada has a long history of partnering with members & stakeholders to deliver thought-provoking events. Our partnership package offers tailored opportunities for organizations according to their interests, priorities and means.

Interested in partnering? We want to hear from you!

2022 CSO-GAC Dialogue on International Assistance and Development: A conversation on fostering an enabling environment for civil society 

2022 CSO-GAC Dialogue on International Assistance and Development: A conversation on fostering an enabling environment for civil society 

On June 30, Cooperation Canada and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) co-hosted the annual CSO-GAC dialogue on international assistance and development issues. At the dialogue, co-chairs of the Civil Society Policy Advisory Group (CPAG) launched a High-Level Narrative Update on Canada’s progress in implementing Canada’s Policy for Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance – A feminist approach  (the Policy). Produced jointly by GAC and CSO co-leads for the nine objectives found in Canada’s implementation plan for the Policy, the High-Level Narrative Update showcased achievements, challenges and opportunities between 2019 and 2022. In addition to launching the Update, the annual dialogue provided an important opportunity to situate the Policy within the broader context of global commitments to civic space and the CSO enabling environment. In this light, the event featured an exchange on the 2021 DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance (the DAC Recommendation). The Dialogue also featured breakout discussions on the Policy’s three objectives most closely aligned with the DAC recommendation (Objective 2 – Facilitate a safe and enabling environment for civil society; Objective 5 -Integrate the role of CSOs as independent actors into international assistance programming; and Objective 7 – Foster multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance).

While the conversation revealed many insights, here are  some key takeaways.

 

Enabling a democratic and safe civic space

Both the Policy and the DAC Recommendation provide a roadmap to foster a safe, enabling environment for civil society. Year on year, CIVICUS monitors the status of civic space, and the trends are worrying. Though there is certainly work to do, Canada remains “Open” in the latest scoring by CIVICUS, among less than 20 countries to share this rating. Participants noted deep concern at the rising prevalence of anti-democratic and authoritarian forces around the world, noting these trends are impacting our shared ability to deliver on Canada’s vision for feminist international assistance. Closing civic space undermines the international cooperation sector’s efforts to balance power, to advance localization and to improve effectiveness. Without strong commitment by all stakeholders  to promote democracy and civic space, including the three critical pillars outlined in the DAC recommendation, our international cooperation efforts will become increasingly difficult to deliver in the coming years. Government-civil society collaboration in advancing the Policy and the DAC recommendation are an important step in the right direction.

 

Opportunities and challenges: Facilitating partnerships, collaboration and fostering inclusivity

The High-Level Narrative Update noted GAC and CSOs progress specifically in two key areas: 1) advancing gender equality; and 2) streamlining processes, exploring innovative solutions, and improving transparency, accountability and results of international assistance, through dialogue and collaborative action.

Looking ahead, there are challenges to overcome and opportunities to seize. For example, participants noted the prevalence of barriers to partnership, particularly for CSOs in partner countries. How localization commitments have yet to truly bear fruit (considering  commitments under the Grand Bargain in 2016 and  historic commitments to country ownership stemming from the aid effectiveness agenda since the early 2000s) was central to the conversation. However, some positive steps have certainly been made both by CSOs and Global Affairs Canada. (Please see some examples here under Objective 1 in the Narrative Update reports). At a workshop in May 2022, the CSO Working Group on the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society (part of the DAC-CSO Reference Group) facilitated a discussion among southern CSO colleagues to identify reforms that would enable funding for southern CSOs. The outcome document pointed to pending areas for change including shifting from colonial mentalities to trust and respect for Southern CSOs, focusing on local priorities, and new ways of funding and working that promote collaboration and make use of CSOs platforms and coalitions to maximize outcomes.   Referring to the workshop during the Dialogue, Anabel Cruz, Founder Director of the Institute for Communication and Development (Uruguay), noted that Southern CSOs continue to face pressure for upward accountability to donors, rather than the communities in which they work. Discussions also pivoted around how expanding public-private partnerships could bring in voices outside the usual suspects and add to collaboration towards common goals, such as the UN Agenda 2030/Sustainable Development Goals. 

In addition, participants highlighted the need for greater diversity of perspectives across global fora for multi-stakeholder partnership, such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, as well as in the spaces created with Global Affairs Canada to promote a CSO enabling environment. Dialogue and engagement should reflect shared commitments to empowering marginalized voices and actively engaging peoples, communities and organizations from across Canada in responding to key international development challenges and pursuing common goals.  For example, Indigenous Peoples globally and in Canada have much to contribute in terms of knowledge and ways of knowing and doing that could enrich discussions in Canada and abroad. At the same time, power dynamics within institutionalized fora must be addressed to ensure meaningful engagement. It is not enough to offer a seat at the table; equitable approaches mean addressing barriers to finding the table, pulling up a chair, contributing to agenda setting and ultimately, knowing the table is safe for conversations that challenge historic ways of working. These reflections on how to improve our approach to inclusivity will be key to inform upcoming joint efforts in our work at the CPAG, and on enabling the DAC recommendation.  

 

Canada’s progress on the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society should harness existing consultation tables

On July 5th, the DAC Recommendation will see its first anniversary. Both the DAC and GAC have been active in raising awareness of its provisions. During the dialogue, Jacqueline Wood, Team Lead – Senior Civil Society Specialist at the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate, explained how the DAC is working on a set of toolkits that will facilitate implementation of the recommendation, the first of which will focus on “Funding Local Civil Society in Partner Countries.” The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law has also identified donors can take to expand civic space in view of the recommendation and in advance of the promised toolkits. As noted by Brian Tomlinson, Executive Director of AidWatch Canada and facilitator of the CSO Working Group on the recommendation, during the Dialogue, Canada’s progress will require mapping existing policies, mechanisms and opportunities and challenges for implementing the recommendation.

And Canada is well-placed in this regard. Canada has historically championed the CSO enabling environment and spoke out against closing civic space.  For Ministers Sajjan and Joly emphasize advancement of democracy and human rights as core priorities for international engagement, priorities that could not be more timely given global trends.

Moving forward from the launch of the CPAG’s High Level Narrative Update, an opportunity exists for the CPAG to plan forward-looking efforts, including opportunities to advance the DAC recommendation. The CPAG plans to convene a stock take in the Fall to talk about where we are at and the path forward on implementing the Policy.

 

CPAG Co-Chairs

Shannon Kindornay, Chief Operations Officer, Cooperation Canada

Stuart Savage, Director General – Engaging Canadians, Global Affairs Canada