Monthly Update: Policymaker Engagement (July-Sept. 2015)

A new era in global development

This September, AfP and partners around the world paused for a moment to celebrate when the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were gaveled into effect at the 70th U.N. General Assembly. The SDGs are a truly historical achievement, not only because they will advance the progress made by the Millennium Development Goals in addressing the manifestations of poverty across the globe but especially because the ambitious new agenda takes aim at the structural causes that create and sustain poverty, such as environmental degradation, violent conflict, inequalities, and poor governance systems. Getting these forward-looking Goals into the agenda was no small achievement for global civil society and the many governments who advocated for them.

AfP worked consistently with a broad network of members and global partners for more than three years to push for this crucial agenda by organizing key meetings and events at the UN and in global capitals, drafting practical recommendations based on the knowledge in our field, and ensuring strong civil society participation in the process.

The joint efforts of state and non-governmental actors all over the world achieved stunning results. The new SDGs place unprecedented emphasis on protecting the environment, and peace is also core to its agenda: Goal 10 focuses on reducing inequalities, and Goal 16 focuses on building peaceful and just societies. Peace is one of the 5 pillars framing the new agenda in its preamble. And the words “inclusive,” “equitable” and “for all” can be found throughout the document. The SDGs are an important step forward toward the world we want. Now the task at hand is turning this ambitious vision into reality.

SDGs and the New Dealimage1

Also during the U.N. General Assembly, AfP attended a meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS), the platform through which donor and host governments discuss strategies for effective development aid systems in fragile states. AfP has helped strengthen civil society participation in the IDPS process over the years through the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS). AfP and the CSPPS have engaged the U.S. and other governments to push for the implementation of the New Deal, the principles document that guides the mission of the IDPS. It was a lively meeting in New York, where senior ministers of donor and “fragile state” governments debated the imperative—and the mutual obstacles—to implementing the New Deal and the peace targets of the new SDGs. Diplomats and civil society participants left the event resolved not to return to “business as usual” in the politics of international aid.

Update on CVE advocacy

President Obama also made remarks at a special Leaders’ Summit organized by the U.S. during the U.N. General Assembly that focused on U.S. and global efforts to fight ISIL and counter violent extremism. The event capped a series of CVE summits around the world and an effort by governments to specify plans to counter violent extremism that began at the White House’s first CVE Summit in February.

The Joint INGO Statement on CVE coordinated by Mercy Corps and AfP and published in July with endorsements from 41 organizations was widely read by officials in the State Department, USAID, and the National Security Council. Several AfP members have continued the conversation with U.S. counterparts to explain areas of concern among humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding NGOs regarding CVE’s strategies and theories of change. This Fall and in 2016 AfP will continue its cross-sector collaboration with members and global partners to strengthen civil society voices regarding peacebuilding and other preventive approaches to addressing the complex factors that lead to radicalization.

Building Resilient Cities

On September 18th AfP hosted a presentation for its members by José Baptista, the Vice President of Platform Service Operations at 100 Resilient Cities, a project of the Rockefeller Foundation. The mission of 100RC is to “help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.” Baptista explained 100RC’s approaches to funding municipalities worldwide to improve their human security, economic development, environmental sustainability, and leadership competency. The goal is to strengthen cities’ physical and social infrastructure such that singular shocks or long-term stresses would not result in a break down in core systems or an outbreak of unrest.

European Union approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding

On September 29th, the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) returned to AfP for a discussion with members about its Annual Action Plan for peacebuilding-related initiatives under the EU’s Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). Mr. Ronan Mac Aongusa, the Head of Section for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding at FPI, gave an overview of the plan’s main areas of focus using examples from programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The discussion centered on the intersection of prevention, fragility, and security in conflict-affected settings, comparing U.S. and European perspectives. FPI and the European External Action Service (EEAS) together comprise the EU’s diplomatic corps, overseeing its diplomatic engagements.

Ronan Mac Aongusa_29Sept15

Mr. Ronan Mac Aongusa of the EU’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments explains the EU’s approaches to peacebuilding in fragile contexts.

True collaboration for peace and democracy in Mali

In September, Mali Moving Forward (formerly Mali Watch) successfully concluded its activities at a special reception hosted by the Ambassador of Mali. Mali Watch, which became Mali Moving Forward, began three years ago following the violence that broke out in Mali after the military coup in March, 2012. Mali Watch was a high-level working group convened by the Bridges Institute that met bi-monthly at AfP and brought together U.S. and Malian diplomats, Malian citizens residing in the U.S., and civil society organizations. Its mission was to coordinate high-level actions with the goal of fostering peace and safety for the people of Mali and stable democratic governance based on the rule of law. During its three years of operation, Mali Watch/Mali Moving Forward catalyzed high-level dialogue, wrote sign-on letters, and leveraged diplomatic channels in support of peace in Mali. We are grateful to the Bridges Institute, U.S. and Malian officials, and the commitment of many Malian and international citizens and organizations who contributed to this important effort.