CSO Partnership: an impossible acronym or a chance at Cooperating?
Farida Bena | september 2016
I have been working for the CSO Partnership for about one year and a half, a coalition by the enigmatic acronym that stands for (take a deep breath) Civil Society Organisations Partnership for Development Effectiveness. The CSO Partnership assembles over 4000 associations on the topics of quality and the aid of development for the South countries of the world. There are smaller regional organisation but also big international NGOs, who are all active in making the cooperation more efficient, by their contribution to uprooting world poverty and the social inequalities.
The CSO Partnership was officially born in 2012, as an acknowledgement of the civil society to the launch of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC), this cooperation reunites governments and representatives of the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians with other key actors of development. However, in reality, the history of the CSO Partnership, has deeper roots that bring us back to the debate on the quantity and quality of the finance for global development during the early 2000s.
With the advent of the global financial crisis in 2008, and the progressive financial cuts to the cooperation, by the donor governments (among which also Italy), the qualitative aspect of the aids acquired became of great importance. If on one hand, the civil society – at that time reunited in the coalition BetterAid- that was in favour of an improvement of the aid, while during those years, on the other hand work was performed in order to conciliate the commitment given to the quality and quantity of the aid provided by the government. “How” could we apprioprately improve cooperation and the amount donated, so that it will not be reduced to mocking amounts because of the crisis.
According to the CSO Partnership, the “how” translated into 4 principles on efficiency of the cooperation for development, agreed at Busan (South Korea) in 2011: the appropriation of development policies by the southern countries; focus on the results that really count for those who live in poor conditions; inclusive and participated partnerships for development; transparency and mutual responsibility or accountability, from those who consider set commitments.
As a Coordinator of Policies and Advocacy at CSO Partnership, I am priviledged to work with representatives of civil societies that come from the 4 corners of the Earth, reunited by reason of the geographical or thematic sectors (for example, the issue of the migration/diaspora, gender issues or working conditions). We work for coalitions in remote areas, with a secretariat based in Manila, in the Philippines. When we meet for meetings or conferences, each of us, share an experiences particular to our region or sector, while translating the principles of efficiency of the aids in reality.
That global sharing of the local experiences is what makes the coalition so influent and gives necessary credibility to take our requests ahead to the governments for a more efficient cooperation. Usually, the civil society, is the only present simultaneous actor at a global, regional, national and local level. Too often we are the only ones on the field. Many of our associates are even attacked or haunted for their cooperation activities, especially if they are involved in the promotion of human rights , freedom of expression, included being able of freely and peacefully criticize their own government.
As a representative of the civil society, the CSO Partnership was able to be recognized as an independent actor of development, and not only as a coalition of associations that realize projects on the behalf of their financers. We are part of the Directive Board of Busan’s Global Partnership, at the same way as the governments, we are directly engaged in the works of the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum (UNDCF), just for mentioning two of areas that see us operating in fist line at a global level.
We believe that through the CSO Partnership, we are able to positively contribute to the actuation of the Sustainable Development Goals, starting with coordinating promotion of policies and practices for a more efficient cooperation. It is impressing- and for me an honour also- to work side by side with colleagues that face a thousand dangers and difficulties in their everyday life, without never losing sight of their mission: which is to improve the impact of the cooperation in their context, and finally the society in which they live.
It might also be a bit of a hard acronym but the CSO Partnership reminds me, every day, that another world, more fair, and as united as possible, is much closer than what we think.