Launch of the Global Humanitarian Context: A Landscape Analysis

Launch of the Global Humanitarian Context: A Landscape Analysis

The Humanitarian Response Network of Canada (HRN), Nexus Cooperation and Cooperation Canada are proud to launch The Global Humanitarian Context, a new report providing a landscape analysis to better understand the dynamic humanitarian context shaping the operations of Canadian organizations. 

As humanitarian needs around the world have been increasing significantly over the past years, this landscape analysis seeks to offer vital insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Canadian humanitarian organizations, highlighting the importance of adaptation, innovation, sustainable financing, and a commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice in responding to evolving global crises and making a meaningful impact on those in need. To facilitate Canadian humanitarian organizations’ initiatives and strategic programming, this analysis concludes by presenting a comprehensive roster of humanitarian networks they can actively engage with and learn from. 

Second Meeting of the Global Cooperation Futures Initiative’s Strategic Advisory Committee

Second Meeting of the Global Cooperation Futures Initiative’s Strategic Advisory Committee

Our latest gathering of the Strategic Advisory Committee for the Futures Initiative was convened on October 11th, 2023, to deliberate on the project’s progress, discuss challenges and opportunities, as well as provide feedback on the project’s deliverables. This group plays a critical role in guiding Cooperation Canada’s research team and advising on the project’s strategic orientations including project’s process, development, and implementation. The meeting was the opportunity for the project lead, Andy Ouedraogo, to review the project’s goals and methodology, revisit the structure, and present the achievements.

The committee’s structure, mission, and objectives were revisited leading to a major decision to consolidate the two governance bodies into one to maximize efficiency. The Committee agreed to absorb the Core Advisory Group, a subset of the Strategic Advisory Committee which mandate was to provide guidance on projects inputs and outputs. With this mandate now sitting under the Strategic Advisory Committee, the number of meetings will increase from 3 to 5 throughout the lifespan of the Futures Initiative.

The committee members also engaged in discussions around the milestones reached since the inaugural meeting. Accomplishments include research activities such as focus group discussions, an environmental scan report, as well as Canadian and Global workshops. The environmental scan provided a global inventory of events and trends in development cooperation and is informing our foresight processes. A workshop was organized with the Humanitarian Response Network (HRN), a coalition of Canadian organizations working in the Humanitarian sector, to understand growing signals of change and emerging challenges. Similarly, we have rolled out five regional dialogues in Africa, Asia, the Caribbeans, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa regions to survey civil society actors on emerging issues, signals of change, priorities as well as their vision of the future of development cooperation. A reflection piece on the latter will be published in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

The Committee provided constructive feedback on the environmental scan undertaken as part of the project’s research activities, with recommendations on how best to improve its structure and ensure that the report remains both relevant and innovative. The meeting concluded with mentions of what is to come, with action items set forth.



The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series. It was initially posted on October 30, 2014 ( 


In any situation of crisis or conflict, the provision of humanitarian assistance aims to address basic needs related to the subsistence of those most deeply impacted. Responding to needs related to food security, water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter involves technical considerations requiring immediate attention. However, the provision of humanitarian assistance also provides an opportunity to engage affected communities in less obvious, but equally critical, strategic work aimed at the preservation and building of social cohesion. These represent strategic situations wherein the triple nexus approach can be implemented, bringing together humanitarian, development, and peace programming.  

Through grassroots initiatives that foster positive relationships within communities threatened by the divisive factors of sectarianism, solidarity and trust can be achieved and sustained in the midst of open conflict. This conviction lies at the center of the philosophy of Mennonite Central Committee partner, the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD) as it approaches its work in providing humanitarian assistance with a peace lens to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria. 

Although the Syrian crisis has spared few as it has moved from village to village, certain areas have remained relative safe havens for those forced to flee their homes as the result of intense and often indiscriminate violence. The Qalamoun region, straddling the highway from Damascus to Homs in central Syria, is one such area. The diverse composition of the region provides a distinctive context to observe the tactical practice of distributing humanitarian assistance in a multi-faith environment where villages are often segregated by faith groups.  

While Syrian communities are long known for their hospitality, host community tensions exist in Qalamoun, as they do across Syria, especially when resources are scarce. Despite these challenges, the people of Qalamoun were able to respond to those seeking refuge from the intense violence in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In addition to welcoming displaced families into their shops, homes, and schools, the people of Qalamoun immediately began organizing efforts to provide food and hygiene items to their new guests. As more IDPs arrived, the need for greater humanitarian support became evident. FDCD, working closely with its contacts in the Qalamoun region, formed a local interfaith network of distributors and coordinators to respond to the crisis. 

The purposeful inclusion of both Christian and Muslim partners in this process proved to advance the peace dimension of the Nexus approach employed by FDCD. Beyond the successful distribution of in-kind assistance to displaced families, this network produced new forms of trust and cooperation between faith groups.  

This was further evident in the community’s response to the Syrian opposition’s attempt at controlling the region, including the town of Sadad, seizing vehicles and limiting local residents’ ability to evacuate the area. Responding to this, FDCD’s interfaith network quickly coordinated an effort to provide transportation. When the presence of anti-government forces in the area caused the movement of non-Muslims to be risky and greatly hindered, the Muslim communities of Qalamoun utilized their own vehicles to facilitate the safe evacuation of members of the Christian community to other villages in the area. In this regard, the deep partnership facilitated through the organization and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Qalamoun proved to be invaluable in the protection of the Christian community during this period of persecution and crisis. 

While the Battle of Qalamoun was undoubtedly destructive, the experience of FDCD shows how an interfaith network made important contributions in mitigating the impacts of armed conflict. As shown above, the strategic benefits of its deliberate approach to humanitarian distribution are clear, supported by an added peace lens centered on interfaith social cohesion.  

A historically diverse community in Qalamoun continues, to this day, to provide an example for how Muslims and Christians can work to navigate the ongoing tensions between host and displaced communities within the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict. As many communities in Syria fall prey to the vicious cycles of hate, exclusion, and persecution, the experience of FDCD attests to the value of localized interfaith approaches to peace and humanitarianism. Although we cannot predict when the Syrian crisis will end, the preservation of new forms of social cohesion resulting from this interfaith network will be crucial in the country’s early recovery and post-conflict development. These continued relationships will become central in preventing the spread of hate and sectarianism, working together to achieve mutual understanding, respect, coexistence and dialogue. 


Lessons learned, from MCC:  

  • With increased attention to a Triple Nexus approach, strategic planning for this is needed in the program design phase.  
    • It is an oversimplification to assume that, for example, a few peacebuilding workshops will achieve this goal. There is a need to think through how to contribute to social cohesion and early recovery/development over the long term and how to incorporate that into planning. 
  • Resources are needed before project implementation to conduct proper conflict analysis/mapping.  
    • There is always a danger of humanitarian aid being used/diverted to align with local/regional political goals 
    • NGOs must be aware of these dynamics as they implement large humanitarian projects. 
  • There is a need for flexible funding by donors.  
    • While institutional donors are encouraging a Triple Nexus approach, most funding is still restricted to certain activities (i.e., food security). With limited or restricted resources, NGOs can have a hard time knowing how to incorporate social cohesion and development programing, especially where there are limited resources for other areas that donors want to prioritize – gender, protection, capacity building, etc.  
  • There is a need for donors to think long term.  
    • Most institutional funding is short term, but it is unrealistic to adopt a Triple Nexus approach with short term funding. Changes in social cohesion or shifts from humanitarian aid to early recovery/development involve long term thinking.  


Lessons learned, from FDCD: 

  • For sustainable peace to be maintained resources should be shared without discrimination and considerations for the host community’s needs should also be prioritized. This case shows that when treated equally, Christians and Muslims recognize each other’s dignity 
  • When local and international organizations come together, such as MCC and FDCD, to implement Triple Nexus within communities facing conflict in Syria, this can support the enabling of harmony, trust building, and reconciliation to its people after years of war and conflict. 


This piece was first published in 2014 in MCC’s quarterly publication, Intersections, and authored by Riad Jarjour, the General Secretary of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue and president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), based in Lebanon and Andrew Long-Higgins, a former Intern at FDCD. This piece was updated for Cooperation Canada in 2023 by Garry Mayhew. 

Launch of the 2023 Canadian Aid Trends Report: Q&A with Author, Brian Tomlinson

Launch of the 2023 Canadian Aid Trends Report: Q&A with Author, Brian Tomlinson

On the sidelines of the 2023 Canadian Aid Trends report launch, its author, Brian Tomlinson, Executive Director of AidWatch Canada, met with Darron Seller-Peritz, Policy Analyst and Program Officer at Cooperation Canada, to discuss the report’s objectives and Brian’s vision of the future of international cooperation.


What is the specific context in which you have come up with this analysis and why at this time? 

Levels of Canadian aid are a crucial measure of our international responsibilities, including to the long-standing UN commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income for aid. However, I think it is equally important to understand changing trends in the channels and modalities through which Canada works with international partners in supporting effective development cooperation.  

The scope and allocations of Canadian aid have been shifting over this past decade, responding with new modalities to address urgent global challenges (the pandemic and the deepening climate crisis) as well as Canada’s foreign policy preoccupations. The motivation for this study was to document changes for aid in the Canadian context as a foundation for understanding better the current trends that can inform priorities for our aid advocacy.  

An overarching goal for AidWatch Canada, as a member of Cooperation Canada, is to be a resource for the wider CSO community. Ultimately, this report is a resource for members and others in Government and academia, which I expect Cooperation Canada will want to keep updating. We can make it a living document through feedback, questions and proposals for future work on the trends set out in the report. 


The report outlines many trends in Canadian ODA. What do you think are the most impactful trends to watch out for in the coming years? 

The report highlights a number of crucial areas that are inter-related and together will be important to follow closely for their impact on Canadian aid in the coming years. 

The Government has promised aid increases each year up to 2030 but has failed to define clearly the scope and intent of these increases. We need to see meaningful transparency in annual Budgets for the International Assistance Envelope, with a clear detailed fiscal plan going forward to 2030. As a benchmark for a future Government, such a public plan is even more crucial in the coming year as we enter into an election period, with an uncertain outcome. 

The weight of climate finance in Canadian ODA is growing as Canada doubled its five-year climate finance commitment in 2020. What impact will a new post-2025 climate finance goal that truly meets the needs of highly vulnerable countries and populations have on Canada’s aid priorities up to 2030?  Will they be additional or “compete” with other aid priorities for reducing poverty and inequalities? 

As Canada relies on multilateral and civil society channels in delivering its aid, how will this aid reflect crucial development effectiveness principles – country ownership, inclusive partnerships, alignment with country plans for results, and accountability and transparency – for strengthening government and civil society leadership in partnership at country level? 

Finally, recent trends demonstrate the Government’s preoccupation with mobilizing private sector finance in its development programming. We need to closely monitor how Canada’s continued reliance on blended finance mechanisms with the private sector will impact the pre-eminent objectives for Canadian aid as a resource that directly addresses conditions for people living in extreme poverty, increasing food insecurity, and persistent gender and other inequalities.  


In light of the report’s findings, how can various stakeholders, including the Canadian public, civil society organizations, and international partners, engage with the report and its recommendations to advocate for positive changes in Canadian ODA policies? 

The report is a background resource for Cooperation Canada members to reference in designing their advocacy on Canadian ODA. While it points to important trends as noted above, it does not suggest particular avenues for advocacy. This is the prerogative of Cooperation Canada and its individual members. The report’s overview of current trends may be suggestive of important future directions for Canadian aid. But further analysis of the wider political environment and more detailed examination of particular objectives for Canadian aid will be needed.  

CSOs with particular sectoral interests, for example, might want to expand on the report’s overarching findings with more detailed research. Cooperation Canada members who are organized in various policy coalitions may wish to pursue this level of analysis. AidWatch Canada, for example, works quite closely with the Canadian CSO Coalition on Climate and Development (C4D) in analyzing in detail Canada’s climate finance. Through the policy staff at Cooperation Canada, I expect that they too can be a resource for members in not only maintaining and updating the report’s data, but also exploring issue areas of interest to the broader membership.  


Through the years, you have seen many changes in the Canadian ODA sector and shifts in priorities and trends. Where do you see Canadian ODA in 10 or 20 years? 

There have indeed been many shifts in Canadian aid priorities and trends over the decades. Today, we may be at a pivotal moment for aid, one in which Canada may influence, but not determine future trends. The latter have been driven by the major donors. It is a moment that is also deeply influenced by the convergence of global crises, which have revealed substantial weaknesses and the need for reform in international financial architecture.  

At the UN, the G20, the World Bank, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada and the international community are grappling with various proposals for reforming a 60-year international financial architecture that has become largely dysfunctional. A few questions need to be answered as we are searching for the best path forward: 

      • Where should, and where will, aid as the only resource available for programming for addressing poverty and inequalities fit in the emerging architecture of finance for developing countries? 
      • Will these reforms create new and essential resources for addressing not only the irreversible impacts of the climate crisis, but also biodiversity loss and growing threats of current and future pandemics, or will they rely on scarce resources for aid thereby further marginalizing other crucial purposes for reducing poverty and inequalities? 
      • Given these trends, can we restore the core purpose for aid as an essential resource dedicated to Agenda 2030’s priority to “leave no one behind,” focusing on health systems, education and civil society at the partner country level?  

How these tensions will be reflected in aid in five- or ten-years time is highly unpredictable. Directions are very dependent on trends in continued political polarization in donor countries, including Canada, on mushrooming impacts of the climate crisis, rising humanitarian needs, and geopolitical tensions, including the war in Ukraine. My hope is that international civil society, including Cooperation Canada members, will continue to challenge and contest these trends, with the goal of safeguarding aid as a resource for leaving no one behind.  

The future outcomes for aid are not predetermined. My hope is that this report can begin to inform deeper discussions on not just expected trends, but also on strategies to renew a path for increased aid that is directed to strengthening developing countries and their citizens in realizing outcomes that benefit both people and the planet. 

Access the highlights of the 2023 Canadian Aid Trends report.

Darron Seller-Peritz

Darron Seller-Peritz

Policy Analyst and Program Officer

New Report: 2023 Canadian Aid Trends

New Report: 2023 Canadian Aid Trends

Cooperation Canada and AidWatch Canada are proud to collaborate on an important report looking into Canadian international assistance. The information unearthed in this report is crucial for anyone following Canada’s contributions to international assistance and a fairer, safer, and more sustainable world. Accompanying the full length report is a document highlighting 20 key trends as well as a Q&A piece with the author, Brian Tomlinson.

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.


High-Level Narrative Update on Progress

In 2022, the CPAG produced a series of high level narrative updates on progress. The progress update captured key accomplishments, challenges and opportunities. They were presented in June 2022, as part of the annual CSO-GAC dialogue co-hosted by Cooperation Canada and Global Affairs Canada. 


Next Steps

CPAG is re-convening in 2023 to examine the group’s mandate and reinvigorate progress towards the CSO policy in a changing international cooperation context.