Chair and Director of IFP
2017 has passed, a year which saw numerous projects executed, both exciting and innovative to follow. Now, at the start of 2018, we are taking another look at the facts, decisions and upcoming challenges for IFP and its members following the last Council meeting.
The IFP Council meeting and side events held from 24 to 27 October 2017 in Phnom Penh in Cambodia was an occasion for the members of IFP, national platforms and regional coalitions from around the globe to meet up, discuss and exchange feedback on the work carried out at civil society level, in highly varied, at times even dangerous, national frameworks. The Council meeting enabled us to refine our strategies for advocacy and allowed IFP, as an umbrella organisation, to analyse how to strengthen national, regional and international synergies.
A decisive stage for our network: development of our organisation’s corporate image from IFP-FIP to FORUS, approved by the General Assembly online with 97% of votes cast. This change, scheduled for the start of 2018, intends to pursue the objectives of our network in a more incisive way and with a new image.
Finally, our GA is fast approaching and will be held at the start of September in Chile. It will be the occasion to celebrate 10 years of existence for our network and to inspire new aims to create a better world for all.
During the Council meeting, two key topics resulted in animated discussion: strengthening capabilities and international advocacy for our members. As a forum for exchanging best practices, experience and innovative ideas, this Council meeting showed once more the potential of cooperation within our network and has positioned IFP as a space for exchange, opening and learning from each other.
Now working in a more structured environment and based on our past experience, in particular with the establishment of our partnership with the European Union, the development of a new strategy and a stronger Secretariat, IFP and its members have set themselves new aims, at once bold and shared, to bring about a more stable environment for civil society, which still, here and there, finds itself under threat and requires the actors concerned to rethink the way they work. Hence the future activities to be carried out by the Secretariat, and those of the whole organisation, members included, must take this reality into account.
Nevertheless, encouraging progress was shared between the various members: in Finland, for example, where the government has a positive outlook on the growing involvement of local civil society vis-à-vis the Agenda 2030. Or the emergence of a young generation that is politically more aware than before, which is the case in Guatemala. These initiatives should be encouraged by our members, even if results are underwhelming.
Despite this positive progress in certain countries, the global situation of civil society remains precarious. Challenges to democratic values are very frequent, as was underlined by our members from Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Chile, or in Asia, in Cambodia, for example. Likewise, in the United States, in France or Great Britain, the withdrawal and suspicion showed by societies previously more tolerant, the lack of resources or favourable conditions for the work of actors in civil society give rise to concern. These threats aggravate the unstable nature of the political situation. So many violations which mark an environment where the scope for manoeuvre is shrinking and where the actors of civil society have to rethink their strategies if they wish to achieve their ideals.
Faced with this political, economic and social context where change is in full swing, this Council meeting was, for the Secretariat and members of IFP, an occasion to revive enthusiasm and the will to fight, collectively, to create a world where statements and the rights of all can be heard and respected.
Against this background, the members of the Council praised the professionalism of our network, both regarding the work of the Secretariat towards its members as well as the commitment of the members within our network and vis-à-vis their own members.
Now that IFP is celebrating 10 years of existence, this statement is especially important and has instilled new aims in our network.
2018 will be a year of celebration, of change and of preparation for the future because this will be the year when the third General Assembly of IFP will be held. As mentioned above, it will take place in Santiago, Chile, on September 5-10th. Numerous events will be organised with and for our members around the GA and our partners will be asked for their feedback on our strategy and possible synergies so we can respond together to the challenges facing us as civil society actors so that we can shape a better world for all.