The Echo of

By Ekaterina Porras Sivolobova, from Project 189, Kuwait and CIVICUS member delegate to the EC Partnership Forum 2018.

partnershipforum2Let’s make sure that the echoes of the recent EC Partnership Forum in Brussels do not fade away. The event brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and representatives from different governments to have a dialogue with the European Commission on how to collaborate to implement and localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – leaving no one behind.

It was my first time in Brussels, and my first opportunity to engage with representatives from the European Commission. Hearing about the different struggles from civil society, from corruption to gender equality and the rising of the seas. I could not stop reconfirming that this is the time to double our solidarity with the European Commission and others, to roll-up our sleeves and get to work, to share our resources and do what has to be done.

The decisions that will be taken in the coming years to achieve in unison the SDGs, will be important to pave the way to decentralised development, making sure not to leave anyone behind. I do hope that in the coming years, we all put our individual priorities aside, recognise the value of collaborative action and once and for all start creating a change, a real change. This form of solidarity is what will strengthen efforts and shorten and mitigate challenges.

In order to gain further traction on the SDGs, collaboration and cooperation based on respectful dialogue and a scientific (like data) approach is paramount. CIVICUS strongly contributes to this by sending a multidisciplinary and multicultural delegation to Brussels, ensuring to leave no one behind. By meeting fellow professionals, advocates and activists, potentially having a chat or even dinner with them, you connect, so that, for future opportunities, you can refer to each other. This building of CSO networks, or bridges, initially maybe only 2 individuals, leads then to the connection of more small working cells, leading then, ideally and hopefully, to a complex network of professional relationships, based on trust and on doing the right thing. This, in my view, will make the SDGs achievable, and events like the Partnership Forum are instrumental, in taking this first/second step. Through this, we will fuel more collaboration and cooperation and, since different individuals can look back to the same experience, CIVICUS creates a community that supports collective action and respectful dialogue.

As the days pass by, the echo of “cooperation” does not fade away. More than ever, I am convinced that it is time to pursue collaboration among different sectors, with Local Authorities and the private sector – working alone is a lengthy path to success. But how, and where do we start?

As a small NGO, Project 189, an organization I founded in 2013 to promote the rights of domestic workers in the Middle East, cooperation with other organization is crucial to our success. I know that together we can achieve more. Now, understanding the responsibilities of governments and the private sector towards the SDGs, it would only make sense to work together. Listening to the European Commission on their commitments on anti-corruption, gender, accountability, human rights, political and social inclusion, decentralization and good and inclusive local governance and decentralized cooperation, we as a small NGO in the Middle East, are planning to also commit and do our part to achieve the SDGs – making sure to leave no one behind. These are our first steps:

  • Clearly identify what SDGs we work towards to achieve. We identified: 8 Decent work and economic growth, 10 Reduce Inequalities, 5 Gender Equlity,16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and 17 Partnerships for the goals. After the forum, we have decided to also work on SDG 13 Climate Action – because simply everything that we do, it does have an impact on climate;
  • Identify agents of change across different sectors, starting with the private sector and reach out for engagement opportunities;
  • Strengthen our advocacy for cross-sectoral cooperation through social media and;
  • Promote cooperation within the MENA Hub, part of the Innovation for Change Platform, with individuals and businesses – because inclusiveness will strengthen our efforts.

With these initial steps we hope to strengthen collaboration and localize the SDGs hoping that the echo of “cooperation” will not fade away.

Get to know more about the five CIVICUS members who shaped CIVICUS Delegation at the EC’s Partnership Forum.