In 2023, the inequalities and injustices that many of us work hard to alleviate escalated in many parts of the world. Conflict, deepening food insecurity, global economic instability, the devastating effects of the climate crisis, and attacks on women’s rights, human rights, civic space and democracy were some of the critical issues that Cooperation Canada’s members, working alongside their partners, worked hard to address. 

Supporting our members in these efforts is at the heart of what we do at Cooperation Canada. In 2023, we were thrilled to pass the 100-member mark, welcoming several new members to our network! 

I am very grateful to Cooperation Canada’s Board of Directors, for their dedication and guidance over the last year. I am also deeply inspired by the work of the Cooperation Canada team, who continue their important work collaborating, convening, advocating and supporting our members and partners to contribute to a fairer, safer and more sustainable world. 

As we look to 2024, I am pleased to share some of Cooperation Canada’s priorities for the year ahead.  We want to see Canada step up to this moment of global instability and uncertainty and do its part to support peace, prosperity and justice. We also know that this is a time of reckoning for those of us working in international cooperation – and that we must take action to address long-standing power imbalances in the international cooperation system. We believe deeply in the important role that civil society – and Canadian organizations – play in making the world a better place and want to support innovation and change to enhance our collective impact. And we stand ready to support Cooperation Canada members to do the hard organizational work to be resilient and relevant now and into the future. 

Pushing for bold Canadian global leadership 

In 2024, we will continue to engage with Canadian parliamentarians, and the Canadian government, to push for bold Canadian global leadership on international cooperation. We’re looking forward to engaging with many parliamentarians about the life-saving and life-changing work of Canadian international cooperation at our International Development Week Hill Day in February 2024. We are pushing for the Canadian government to respond to immense global needs, and leverage Canadian expertise in international assistance, through new and additional commitments in the 2024 federal budget. 

We have started strategizing on influencing Canada’s G7 Presidency in 2025 and are working actively to be well-prepared for the next federal election. We will continue to work with Global Affairs Canada to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their partnerships with civil society, including through the important Grants and Contributions Transformation process. And we will keep up the important work of tracking and analyzing key trends in Canadian international assistance and global humanitarian action 

Shifting power in international cooperation 

At Cooperation Canada, we are committed to shifting power in international cooperation.  This means taking action ourselves as an organization, including through the implementation of our new Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice Strategy and Action Plan (2023-2026), and supporting our members to do the same. The important work of the Anti-Racist Cooperation (ARC) Hub will continue in 2024 – keep an eye out for ways to engage during Black History Month in February and take a look at the ARC Hub’s most recent annual report. We are also working with our members to make real progress on operationalizing our collective efforts on localization, including through engaging with and influencing Global Affairs Canada and global coalitions focused on shifting power. The need to respond to the historic and ongoing implications of Canada’s colonial history remains top of mind for us.  We will be doing more work as a Cooperation Canada team, and with our members, to take meaningful action on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. 

Championing civil society innovation and impact  

Our exciting strategic foresight work, delivered through our Futures Initiative, is in full flight, and will help us look ahead to anticipate and address emerging trends that will shape international cooperation. The Humanitarian Response Network has an important strategic year ahead and will continue to work hard to bolster the impact of Canadian humanitarian action.  Our newly energized Innovative Finance Working Group is connecting, sharing and learning on how to best leverage innovative finance in international cooperation. And we are excited to see what the year will hold for Resilient Societies, the newly launched hub for civil society activists in exile that we are incubating at Cooperation Canada. 

Supporting organizational resilience 

Cooperation Canada will continue to support our members to improve their organizational resilience and impact.  We’re encouraged to see the Cooperation Canada Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Working Group and Human Resource Working Group go from strength to strength, and that people playing these important roles in our membership have opportunities to learn from and support each other.  We are excited to launch Digna’s PSEA Organizational Assessment Tool for the third year in a row, working with members and partners to maintain momentum on our collective efforts on safeguarding in international cooperation.  

We will work with others across the Canadian charitable sector to shine a light on the immense impact of Canadian charities, and advocate for a supportive enabling environment for us. We know that funding diversification is a key priority for our members, and we will seek to support creative and innovative efforts to diversify revenue sources for our members, including by enhancing our connections with the Canadian philanthropic sector. 

At Cooperation Canada, we truly believe that we are stronger when we work together.  Stay tuned – through our newsletter, LinkedIn and X – to keep up to date on opportunities for collaborating with us in 2024. A key moment will be our second International Cooperation Futures Festival, which will take place from 8-10 October 2024 at the National Art Centre in Ottawa. We hope you will join us! 

There is no doubt that the world feels more insecure and complex than it did a decade ago, and that we’re looking towards a period of instability for the world – and the for the Canadian international cooperation organizations that operate within it. This will bring challenges. But it will also opportunities. And it should drive us to embrace innovation and change.   

I’m optimistic about what we can achieve working together. I look forward to collaborating with our members and partners in the year ahead!