Welcome to our 2021 flyer. You can download the flyer below to find out about what we plan to do this year and how you can get involved.
Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Urban Approach 2018-30 is one of the innovation case studies and accompanying podcast interviews in the Centre’s ‘Civil Society Innovation and Urban Inclusion’ report 2020. Explore the full report here.
One of the ‘golden threads’ of inclusion and impact throughout the report is the need for effective multi-sector collaborations for change in complex urban challenges. This has become even clearer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in cities, as two colleagues from Habitat share in this guest blog.
COVID-19 and sheltering in place
The current global pandemic represents both a health and an economic crisis. The availability of adequate and affordable housing is at the center of people being able to shelter in place for extended periods of time. COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects on urban communities across the world, with higher concentrations of people in cities increasing exposure rates. People living in informal settlements and refugee camps have been more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to their poor housing and living conditions, limited access to water and sanitation, loss of livelihoods and overcrowding. Social distancing and sheltering in place is difficult, if not impossible.
It is more apparent than ever just how essential it is for families to have safe, affordable, and adequate housing to reduce their vulnerability to COVID-19 and a plethora of other health- and disaster-related risks.
Community collaboration during COVID-19
While the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the vulnerabilities and inequalities in the housing ecosystem, it has also reiterated the strengths of many urban communities and the importance of taking a people-centered development approach. Local communities have exemplified what coming together really means and that through collaboration, communities prosper, especially when supported by the public and private sectors in robust multi-sector collaborations.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, community-level action has become more necessary than ever to address the schism between communities in cities whose needs are and are not being met or represented. Individuals have helped one another maintain economic activity, kept vulnerable community members safe, and fostered a sense of community, even when many of us are physically separated. This can only be accomplished by multiple entities within a community coming together to help each other during this difficult time.
This resilience and strength in our communities comes from collaboration, from being part of a team that sees the bigger picture. It comes from establishing important relationships that serve the most vulnerable in a population. People, Public, Private Partnerships (P4) are necessary alliances to ensure that the development needs of the most poor and marginalized are addressed and met in these complex contexts.
What makes a community?
The answer might seem obvious, but we cannot point to one individual unit that makes a community. Is it the citizens? Businesses? Public servants? Community organizations? Buildings? All of the above – none alone make for a community, yet none survive without all the others. The nature of a community is this system of interlinked elements that interact with each other and the environment, constantly changing in time and space. Even the smallest changes to one part of this system can affect the whole, and community members understand this better than anyone.
There is never a problem nor solution that affects only one piece of a system. For instance, inadequate housing can affect education, sanitation and livelihoods among other things. These complex problems require complex solutions, which acknowledge that interlinkages exist beyond the apparent and that one entity alone cannot tackle them. Complex solutions come from collaborations. Innovative, affordable housing solutions in any context require evidence-based community-, market- and policy-level solutions that stem from a deeper analysis of the entire housing ecosystem.
Why are multi-sector collaborations so important?
Collaborations allow multiple organizations to partner together to tackle a specific problem and contribute towards transformational change, especially the multi-faceted and complex problems often affecting urban populations. These mutually beneficial and well-defined relationships entered between government, non-profits, private organizations, community organizations or groups and individual community members solve problems or explore new opportunities, with no clear single answer. They acknowledge that the issues facing communities around the world require collaborative solutions at community, policy, and market levels.
Habitat for Humanity’s multi-sector collaborations during COVID-19
Various Habitat for Humanity national offices have engaged in multi-sector collaborations to tackle the nuanced and complex issues COVID-19 presents. Our Indonesia office ensured essential medical personnel had a safe and comfortable place to stay when they were unable to return home out of fear of bringing the virus with them, rejection from neighbors, and working on ‘standby’ status. But there were also not enough places for hospital workers to stay on site. Our team partnered with Jakarta area hospitals and hotels to ensure adequate accommodation for essential medical workers, reducing the risk of further spreading the virus and allowing these key staff to better perform their jobs.
Habitat for Humanity Paraguay is also working with our network of government and NGO partners to distribute COVID-19 sensitization materials and develop handwashing stations. Communities are being empowered through education and access to resources to stay healthy throughout the pandemic.
Why do multi-sector collaborations work?
Organizations are better able to create meaningful change with more resources, bandwidth, and new ideas. Multi-sector collaborations create an environment where this is possible. Working with these multiple actors means a variety of resources and perspectives bring creative solutions to complex problems. The strategic and creative approaches fostered by multi-sector collaboration allow for holistic solutions that do not tackle only one single component of a complex system.
We cannot separate the structural issues inherent to urban settings from the political, social, environmental, and economic systems in which they exist. These problems require expertise and solutions that are cross-disciplinary, multi-faceted and that put the value of the community first. A community’s strength lies in its ability to collaborate with actors both within and outside of it, and draw on its own strengths and resources. Community members and organizations are key stakeholders in any successful multi-sector collaboration to create long-term sustainable solutions.
Our communities are microcosms of multi-sector collaborations, with everyone pooling together their knowledge and resources to ensure that the whole community can thrive. We’ve seen how successful they can be, so why are we waiting to enact them on a global scale?
In conclusion, we need to do things together.
Months of isolation with the pandemic have made it very clear that we, as individual citizens, need one another. We need this same outlook when thinking about our goal of solving complex urban issues. We need each other – the community, private industry, governments, non-profits, and private citizens – and cannot do it alone.
This year’s NetHope Summit goes virtual: From 26 to 28 October, there is another opportunity for Civil Society Organisations to learn, collaborate, and get inspired. NetHope aims, as always, to perform a vital role as a catalyst for change and improvement within the non-profit sector, focusing on topics around digital technology. The NetHope Virtual Global Summit 2020 has chosen as its motto « Collective Action. Sustainable Future ».
This is certainly the right place to discuss the relevance and effectiveness of Civil Society Organisations in an increasingly digital world. A topic that had featured in recent months on this blog when the question was asked whether CSOs have the ambition to shape the digital world or remain bystanders? Among the many long-term issues on our agenda, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the relevance and effectiveness of civil society and the future of civil society organisations in general.
Three social justice activists will discuss these issues, and everybody is invited to join: On 26 October we have a virtual stage featuring Jane Muigai, Rukshana Nanayakkara, and Wolfgang Jamann sharing their thoughts on how CSOs should get ready for a digital future. The discussions are facilitated by Karl Steinacker.
The discussion will take place on Wednesday, 28 October, at 15:15 hrs CET/ 10:15 EDT in Virtual Room 8 of the NetHope Virtual Global Summit 2020.
Listen to Acha Rita Agum, Disability and Inclusive Development Officer in Cameroon and Dominique Schlupkothen, Director of Community Based Inclusive Development at CBM, interviewed by Nihal Helmy from the International Civil Society Centre.
In this episode, they reflect on the importance of inclusion and how CBM is empowering local communities to have their own voice and advocate for themselves. Learn about the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and how they are ensuring their policies not only include people with disabilities, but that they are also consulted when designing the response.
Join their session at #GlobalPerspectives2020, where they will explore how representative organisations of persons with disabilities can effectively influence policy making at the local level.
Listen to Suchi Gaur, Ph.D, Director of Global Engagement and Impact, and Caterina Lemp Bitsacopoulos, Senior Specialist in Movement Building, interviewed by Nihal Helmy from the International Civil Society Centre.
World YWCA is a voluntary based, grassroots and diverse movement that connects and mobilizes the power of millions of women across the world. Learn how living in patriarchy motivates one to empower the new generations of women and to make space for them.
Join the Global Perspectives virtual experience in November, it will provide safe space to have honest conversations about inclusion!
CBM Global works hard to transform lives and build inclusive communities for people living with disabilities in the underrepresented and marginalised communities around the world. Listen to David Bainbridge, Executive Director for disability and inclusion at CBM Global interviewed by Nihal Helmy.
Thirty years of experience help David to deal with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemics, which has a disproportionate impact on the poor and those with disabilities. In collaboration with local partners, CBM Global is doing their best to make it possible for people with disabilities to enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.
Join us too at the Global Perspectives virtual experience in November! This year’s theme is inclusion. Share, learn, be challenged and inspired!
Current research shows that civil society in over half of the countries of the world is facing serious and growing restrictions on its freedom to engage, express itself and be heard. Activists and human rights defenders in formal and informal spaces are building new bridges of solidarity to move forward, but these are challenging times for our community.
With increased surveillance, persecution and even violence against activists, many civil society organisations have come under attack, particularly those advocating on behalf of excluded groups and minorities, for democratic rights and in defence of the environment.
Human rights defenders in Africa, Latin America and Asia, as well as in other parts of the world, have been targeted and attacked. 212 environmental and land rights defenders alone were killed during 2019, and 219 human rights defenders are estimated to have been killed or died in detention in 2016. Technology advances have brought increased surveillance on civil society and create new risks for civic space.
The civic space case studies contained within the recent Forus report “Realising the potential of Goal 16 to promote and protect civic space” highlight the many restrictions civil society currently faces in different parts of the world. From Nepal to Colombia, it has become increasingly difficult to exercise rights of association, assembly and expression.
Now the question is – how can we protect fundamental freedoms, essential to the creation of a healthy, functioning civic space, where people’s voices are being heard?
The recent Forus report, Realising the potential of SDG 16 to promote and protect civic space, highlights how a particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)can provide important leverage for civil society everywhere in its efforts to create and defend civic space, and to be more effective in monitoring and implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Many in the human rights community are sceptical about what they regard as the weak potential of the SDGs to advance a universal human rights agenda. In his foreword to the report on Goal 16 and civic space, the former Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, claims that despite almost 20 mentions of human rights in the text of the 2030 Agenda, no reference is made to any specific civil or political right.
Alston argues that human rights in general remain marginal and invisible in the agenda. He points to the behaviour of many governments who have side-lined or even rejected the inclusion of human rights in national SDG programming. He also refers to SDG reports by the UN and World Bank which he claims pay little or no attention to human rights, with the exception of the issue of gender.
Such ambivalence towards the 2030 Agenda has led some human rights activists and practitioners to overlook or disregard the role that SDG 16 could play in promoting civil and political rights globally. Here’s why SDG 16 could be effective in promoting and protecting civic space.
The effective implementation of SDG 16 can have profound implications for civic space in countries across the world. The goal broadly focuses on issues of governance and aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. A specific target of SDG 16, Target 16.10, commits UN member states to “Ensure access to public information and protect fundamental freedoms”.
These freedoms, which include basic rights to associate and assemble peacefully and to express views and opinions, are themselves fundamental human rights protected under international human rights law, and they are essential to the creation and maintenance of civic space.
And yet, the two global-level indicators which have been adopted to date by the international community, do not adequately assess progress in protecting and promoting fundamental freedoms.-In particular, because they do not directly measure the extent to which fundamental freedoms of association, assembly and expression are being protected in day-to-day civic life as citizens attempt to engage with issues which impact on their communities and wider societies.
This failure to monitor and measure the extent to which citizens are free to participate in the civic life is a significant omission where SDG 16 is concerned.
There is an urgent need for the international community to extend the scope of SDG 16 civic space indicators which are currently limited to an outcome indicator measuring the extent to which activists, human rights defenders and others have been kidnapped imprisoned or murdered. Additional global indicators must be developed which measure the extent to which citizens can exercise their rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression in their communities and societies, in accordance with international human rights standards and national human rights laws.
Following the launch of the Goal 16 report at the UN High Level Political Forum in 2020, Forus and its partners intend to collaborate with interested civil society networks and other groups on a new global advocacy campaign. This campaign will call for a wider range of civic space indicators to be adopted by UN member states as official Goal 16 indicators and to become part of national regional and global review processes of the 2030 Agenda. For this we need human rights defenders.
The involvement of human rights activists and practitioners in this global advocacy campaign, and in the wider monitoring and review of SDG 16 implementation, will be crucial as it could bring its considerable technical expertise, advocacy capacities and political influence to bear on the process. Let’s join forces to launch a broad dynamic strategy for fundamental freedoms to be promoted and protected. Please contact me on Deirdre@forus-international.org if you wish to discuss this proposal further!
One of the most important topics at Global Perspectives 2020 will be gender diversity and women leadership. Join our host Nihal Helmy who interviews Kassie McIlvaine and Esther Watts from Care International.
Kassie McIlvaine works as a Program Quality – Deputy Regional Director West Africa and Esther Watts as a Country Director at CARE Ethiopia. Addressing staffing ratios and power dynamics in their own organization was worth it despite the challenges in the implementation of diversity policies. Hear them out on women and girls’ empowerment, making change happen and more!
We invite you to the Global Perspectives 2020 virtual experience, this year’s topic is “A Passion for Inclusion”. See the link below.
A conversation about eradicating violence against women, Global Perspectives as a safe space for important civil society discussions and exploring this year’s topic “A Passion for Inclusion”.
Join our host Nihal Helmy who interviews Brenda Wanjiku Kariuki from World Vision International. They touch upon the problem of increased violence against women and children during the pandemic. However, they also talk about the progress made by Brenda and her colleagues to achieve their goals.
You are invited to the Global Perspectives 2020 virtual experience, see the links below.
This page is part of a series of COVID-19 resource pages that we are creating to help civil society actors.
On this page, you will find links to readings, podcasts and videos related to the latest COVID-19 news and analysis. If you have a recommendation or a suggestion, let us know. Many thanks to our volunteer researcher Ineke Stemmet.
The sections are:
Staying up-to-date: Links to sites that will keep you abreast of important developments related to our sector and the latest news.
Strategic: We look at the impact and responses to COVID-19 in a general and intersectional way (i.e. impacts on human rights, climate change, etc).
Policy: Civil society’s policies that respond to challenges posed by COVID-19.
Operational: A list of what your organisation can do now to navigate these unprecedented times.