Representatives of Civil Society Organizations and Local Authorities met with the European Commission in Brussels from 27-29 September to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Policy Forum on Development (PFD).
The PFD is a dialogue space to improve the effectiveness of EU development cooperation, by bringing together civil society organisations (CSOs), local authorities (LAs), professional and business associations as well as representatives of EU institutions and Member States.
Being PFD members, the ICA global and regional offices joined the meeting, in which they have been representing cooperatives since its launch.
A 10-year anniversary meeting
Considering the international context, the EU’s priorities- notably the Global Gateway - and the priorities of the PFD members, the overarching themes of the meeting were the need to address inequalities and shrinking civic space, framed as: “Multistakeholder partnerships for building a better future: The quest for equality and opening up civic space”.
Under these overarching themes, topics of interest included informality, climate change and climate justice, and resilience to the multiple current crises. Migration, urban development, education and culture, and digitalisation are all important aspects, with clear links to increasing inequalities. Gender and youth were also addressed as transversal dimensions.In this context, the debate also focused on the role that civil society and local authorities can play to support its successful rollout.
The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, gave a keynote address on Global Gateway and Inequalities and emphasised the EU’s commitment to reducing inequalities and enhancing mechanisms towards the implementation of the SDGs. She highlighted the main objective of the Global Gateway, a new European strategy to boost smart, clean, and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education, and research systems across the world.
Cooperatives were represented in the discussions by the ICA representatives from the Global and Regional Offices as well as speakers from cooperative enterprises .
The topics of inequalities and how to open up civic space to strengthen collective action and partnerships to build an open, free, and democratic future were discussed at length. The objective was to come up with concrete recommendations on best practices and solutions to combat the root causes of shrinking civic space; to contribute to effective partnerships and genuine dialogue to ensure coherence between human rights obligations and commitments under the 2030 Agenda; to share practices and existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms on civic space and enabling environment; and to discuss where the EU could play a greater role in supporting CSOs and LAs in the context of shrinking civic space.
Nicolás Dimarco, from Federación Argentina de Cooperativas de Trabajo de Tecnología, Innovación y Conocimiento (FACTTIC) in Argentina represented cooperatives in the session on the quest for equality towards a sustainable and inclusive digital transformation. The session aimed to show increasing inequalities due to digitalisation and extract proposals to close the digital gap. Nicolas shared practical examples from FACTTIC of how cooperatives are promoting access to digital platforms through democratic and participatory processes.
Mirai Chatterjee, Chairperson, Self-employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India, was a speaker for the plenary session that addressed intersectional and multi-dimensional inequalities and looked at how to create a genuine, inclusive, and sustainable framework of the economy. The main objective for this session was to formulate policy recommendations directed to responsible actors to implement development models that put the people and the planet’s needs first and to think about processes to include the most excluded individuals and groups in the elaboration of policies that affect them. Mirai Chatterjee shared practical examples of how SEWA supports and empowers women to be included in the decision-making processes.
The ICA has been actively participating in the PFD since its launch 10 years ago and previously participated in the Structured Dialogues with the EU that led to the establishment of the PFD.