• Being hosted in Suva, Fiji from 4-8 December, International Civil Society Week (ICSW), brings together over 600 leading organisations and activists to share ideas about some of the biggest issues in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development.
  • Small island states like Fiji are facing critical threats from climate change, holding ICSW 2017 in the Pacific provides an ideal forum for civil society to meet and discuss climate and social justice, and allow civil society delegates from around the world to see the frontlines in the global fight against climate change.

Suva, Fiji. 27 November 2017: Across the globe, we are seeing governments increasingly attacking human rights NGOs. Environmental defenders are being murdered in record numbers. An unprecedented rise of populist leaders is eroding fundamental freedoms. And small island nations face rising oceans, extreme weather and untold hardship as the impacts of climate change deepen.

We are in the midst of unprecedented global challenges.

According to the CIVICUS Monitor, only 2% of the world’s population live in places where rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are truly respected and protected.  Our planet and its bio-diversity is under serious threat, with small islands states and some of the world’s most excluded populations among those already suffering the very real effects of climate change.

More than 600 leading activists from across the globe will come together in Suva, Fiji from 4-8 December for International Civil Society Week 2017, to share ideas and propose common solutions around some of the biggest challenges in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development, including climate change. ICSW 2017 is being co-hosted by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) under the theme “Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our Future”.

"It’s an honour to have the privilege to co-host this event; to be able to bring this (ICSW) to the Pacific to show the world what we’re about, and to be a part of re-energising all involved in managing or negotiating the challenging civic spaces we all operate in,” says PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga. “The Pacific (CSO) community recognises the wonderful opportunity before us; to be able to engage with our peers from all over the world, to share experiences, to learn from each other and to broaden and foster relations.

A programme featuring over 60 events organised by 30 event partners will explore and enable the latest trends - from technology to climate justice, as well as a celebration of innovations that can help empower and mobilise citizens.

This is the first time that the global event is being hosted in the Pacific, providing an ideal forum for civil society to meet and discuss climate and social justice. It comes just two weeks after the close of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, and following the UN Oceans Conference in New York earlier this year, (both co-hosted by Fiji).

“The Pacific region has a vibrant and diverse civil society, well known globally for its efforts on banning nuclear weapons and protecting our oceans,” says Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “But, the peoples of the Pacific, like those in other small island states, now have to tackle the devastating impacts of climate change alongside other development challenges.”

With our planet and its bio-diversity facing critical threats, it is often excluded people that face the most severe and unjust consequences. Innovation and good practice are vital to realising environmental sustainability, the Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030.

“We can no longer afford to treat climate action and sustainable development as two distinct agendas to be pursued in tandem,” adds Sriskandarajah. “Well-designed policies and actions to reduce emissions and enhance resilience to climate disruptions can deliver broad sustainable development benefits. Similarly, advancing progress towards the SDGs can contribute to climate impact mitigation and adaptation.”

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, UN Women, Oxfam Pacific, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, International Civil Society Centre are among the many organisations that will be taking part in the week.  

ICSW 2017 begins on December 4 with the CIVICUS Youth Assembly, which gathers  young leaders from across the world to debate solutions for poverty, inequality and climate change impacting youth, and how to engage with the global Sustainable Development Goals. The public ICSW 2017 programme then runs from 5-6 December. It is followed by the CIVICUS World Assembly on December 7, featuring key international speakers including Dave Archambault, Former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline in the US; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Envoy; Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, UNDP Administrator and Candidate for UN Secretary-General in 2016.

The Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Awards, now in its 12th year, honours the work of outstanding activists and organisations and will be presented during the World Assembly programme with awards for Youth Activists, Individual Activists, Civil Society Organisations and Brave Philanthropy.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS 

For more information, please contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Grant Clark, Senior Media Advisor, CIVICUS

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mobile: +27 63 567 9719

Skype: grantclarknpr

Matt Reading Smith, Senior Communications Officer, CIVICUS 

EmailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

You can also access resources on the ICSW 2017 Virtual press centre, which will be updated throughout the event:

http://www.civicus.org/icsw/index.php/icsw-media

ABOUT THE CONVENERS 

The conveners of ICSW 2017 are CIVICUS: the World Alliance for Citizen Participation and PIANGO, the Pacific Island Association of Non Governmental Organisations.

CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.  Founded in 1993, CIVICUS strives to promote marginalised voices, especially from the Global South, and has members in more than 145 countries throughout the world. Civicus.org 

PIANGO is the major regional non-governmental organisation with members in 23 countries and territories of the Pacific Islands. With membership spread across the world’s biggest ocean, PIANGO serves to strengthen and build capacity of the civil society sector in the region.

MEDIA ACCREDITATION 

We invite media to apply for accreditation. Click here to fill in the media accreditation form.

All of the ICSW, Youth and World Assembly and Mandela - Graça Machel Innovation Awards events will be open to accredited media.

CIVICUS WORLD ASSEMBLY SPEAKERS 

For an updated list of speakers, please visit:

http://www.civicus.org/icsw/index.php/programme/featured-speakers

ICSW PROGRAMME 

 The programme for ICSW is available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded on this page 

http://www.civicus.org/icsw/index.php/programme

VIRTUAL PARTICIPATION

Civil Society leaders, activists, and media  from across the globe will be able to participate virtually. Find out what’s happening in real-time on the ICSW Live platform, a hub that links delegates with global civil society. You will find the live blog, virtual press centre, audio/ video interviews, and interactive features.

You can also follow the social media conversation using #ICSW2017

Find out more about virtual participation:

http://www.civicus.org/icsw/index.php/live/virtual-participation

FAQs ABOUT ICSW 2017

  1. What is International Civil Society Week 2017?

International Civil Society Week (ICSW), being hosted December  4-8 2017, is a key global gathering for civil society and other stakeholders to engage constructively in finding common solutions to global challenges. For the first time in more than 20 years of international convening, CIVICUS in partnership with the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) will hold its flagship event in the Pacific region.

  1. What is the theme for 2017?
  • OUR PLANET: Our planet and its bio-diversity are under threat, and it is often excluded people that face the most severe and unjust consequences. Events in this track will explore how innovation and good practice are vital to realising environmental sustainability, the Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030.
  • OUR STRUGGLES: A global crisis of democracy and a clampdown on people’s rights are affecting the progress of our social justice struggles. Events in this track will explore trends in civic space and political participation.
  • OUR FUTURE: Civil society is organising and responding to the crises facing us in powerful new ways to create the future we want. Events in this track will consider how we can support the next generation of leaders and build solidarity across diverse movements, mobilisations and initiatives.
  1. Who will be attending?

Over 600 delegates from across the world will be part of ICSW 2017. These will include civil society leaders, activists, representatives from United nations Agencies, governments, and the media.

  1. Why Fiji?

Holding ICSW 2017 in the Pacific provides an ideal forum for civil society to meet and discuss climate and social justice. It affords delegates a unique opportunity to better understand the context of those on the frontlines of climate change, while also bridging local and regional efforts to key intergovernmental and multilateral engagements on climate change, including the UN Oceans Conference in New York and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn (both co-hosted by Fiji).

 Small island states like Fiji are at the frontline of climate impacts: in 2016 Cyclone Winston (strongest storm ever recorded in Southern Hemisphere) hit Fiji leaving tens of thousands homeless and causing billions of dollars worth of damage. At the same time, Fiji a global leader in climate action, though  efforts may be futile if the world does not rally behind climate efforts. Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement.

The small island nation has also pledged to go 100% renewable by 2030 (other Pacific countries who have made that commitment include: Vanuatu, Philippines, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Palau, and Papua New Guinea) However, the scary reality is that even if these nations achieve the most difficult domestic mitigation effort of going 100% renewable, their efforts could be futile if the biggest emitters don´t follow-through on their own climate commitments.

  1. What are some of the key stories?

Following are just some of the interesting themes that will be discussed at #ICSW2017

Closing space for civic rights

According to the CIVICUS Monitor, only 2% of the world’s population live in places where rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are truly respected and protected.  Today we live in a world where there are multiple existential threats to our planet and our rights. However, there is also a growing feeling of solidarity among those committed to human rights and social justice and a greater recognition than ever before that we must come together, organise and take action to build a more equal, just, sustainable and liveable world for everyone. Now  more than ever, the world needs civil society to come up with bold and creative ideas to forge a more progressive future.

Small island states threatened by climate change.

Fiji is frontline of climate impacts: in 2016 Cyclone Winston (strongest storm ever recorded in Southern Hemisphere) hit Fiji leaving tens of thousands homeless and causing billions of dollars worth of damage. People are also moving off low lying coastal areas in Fiji´s 300+ islands due to annual coastal erosion.

Fiji a global leader in climate action, but efforts may be futile.

Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. The small island nation has also pledged to go 100% renewable by 2030 (other Pacific countries who have made that commitment include: Vanuatu, Philippines, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Palau, and Papua New Guinea) However, the scary reality is that even if these nations achieve the most difficult domestic mitigation effort of going 100% renewable, their efforts could be futile if the biggest emitters don´t follow-through on their own climate commitments.

SDGS and climate action:  

We can no longer afford to treat climate action and sustainable development as two distinct agendas to be pursued in tandem. Well-designed policies and actions to reduce emissions and enhance resilience to climate disruptions can deliver broad sustainable development benefits. Similarly, advancing progress towards the SDGs can contribute to climate impact mitigation and adaptation.

Environmental human rights defenders at serious risk.  

A growing trend of corporate- and state-sponsored attacks on environmental human rights defenders globally poses serious threats to environmental protection efforts and activists themselves. Defenders, including from indigenous communities, are increasingly being killed, threatened, detained and unfairly prosecuted because of their opposition to projects that are detrimental to their communities, land, livelihood and rights.  Greater international support and action is needed to protect defenders and to stop the targeting of community-based environmental campaigns.