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Opinion |

On the road for Tunis

by Harsh Jaitli

Chief Executive Officer at Voluntary Action Network India (VANI).

But 2015 is also going to be a decisive year for the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP). The network will hold its second General Assembly in March alongside the World Social Forum (WSF) where several important decisions will be made, influencing the internal functioning of our organization but also our strategic orientations.

Declared “European Year for Development” by the European Commission, 2015 is a crucial year for the global community with the UN Summit in September who will decide of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda and the COP 21 in Paris in December where an international climate agreement should be reached.

But 2015 is also going to be a decisive year for the International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP). The network will hold its second General Assembly in March alongside the World Social Forum (WSF) where several important decisions will be made, influencing the internal functioning of our organization but also our strategic orientations. The first IFP General Assembly(GA) had been organized ahead of the 2011 WSF in Dakar, so the link between our organization and the WSF is historical.

The IFP gathers today 59 national NGO platforms from five continents as direct members and 7 regional coalitions as associated members. Since our last General Assembly we welcomed ten new members and together we represent over 21,000 NGOs around the world..

We are very happy that the majority of our members will attend the IFP’s GA on March 23 in Tunis, one day before the official opening of the WSF. Together, they will elect the new IFP Council but they will also decide of the IFP’s future as an autonomous organization. Up to now, the network has been hosted and legally represented by the colleagues from the French platform, Coordination SUD. During the last 2 years, the IFP Council has been reflecting upon the possibilities for our organization to acquire a legal status. Several scenarios will be presented to the members who will choose the type of structure and the country where the IFPs’ headquarters will be established.

But this event will also provide the opportunity to invite keynote speakers and have thought-provoking debates about the key questions that are challenging the development sector nowadays, such as the link with social movements and grassroots organizations, the importance of citizen mobilization or the alternative economic models.

This will orientate the decisions on the IFP’s activities for the coming years. Currently, the three strategic pillars of the IFP are capacity development and learning of national NGO platforms, international advocacy (with a focus on post- 2015 issues) and the protection of an enabling environment for civil society.  In the future, the focus will be on capacity development for platforms and their members, aiming to reach even a broader range of CSOs. This had been identified by the IFP members and its Council as the priority of the organization in the future and the GA will define the main lines of action.

But the two other pillars will also be addressed in Tunis, to identify the members expectations and also the strategic partnerships to be developed in the coming years, given the IFP’s added value.

In addition to its GA, the IFP will also organize several events with members and partners during the WSF, on national mobilization and campaigning or the advocacy strategies around the post 2015 agenda or on the tools of monitoring and accountability of the implementation of the new development framework etc.

Tunis 2015 will be an exciting moment for all of us, the IFP and its members, but also for the thousands of participants who will come from all over the world to take part to the thematic Forums, conferences and other events happening before, during and just after the World Social Forum. Civil society organizations and activists will come together to discuss and decide of joint actions to prove that Another world is possible.