• CIDT @ COP 26 – seeking a fair deal for the Congo Basin forests

    21 October 2021
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    The extensive Congo Basin Forests are one of the “lungs of our planet”. They are critically important in the fight against Global Warming. By attending the COP 26 we want to help achieve a Fair Deal to save the forests of Central Africa in the Congo Basin.    The presence of CIDT and our partners at the COP 26 will help give voice to Civil Society Organisations, Local and Indigenous Peoples from the Congo Basin who are at the forefront of conserving these forests. We also want to hear the voices of the private sector, scientists, governments and show case our experiences.

    In this short blog Professor Philip Dearden, the Head of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) explains some of the complex background to COP 26 and outlines why CIDT is attending this important Climate Summit in Glasgow next month.

    Looking back to look forward

    During my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia (UEA) I was exposed to some great thinking about global and local work see, for example, here. At that time, I was also first introduced to the whole notion of global climate change. Since then we have of course gained an appreciation of the science behind climate change. We have also seen the importance of global warming and its consequences both globally and locally.

    The emergence of Climate Science and evidence of humans influencing global climate 

    My occasional squash and climbing partner and good friend at UEA Ben Santer went on to a distinguished career in Climate Science. In 1996 Ben completed work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC. He had served as convening lead author for the climate change detection and attribution chapter of the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report. Twelve simple key words captured the bottom-line finding: The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”  These 12 words changed the way the world views the human role in the climate system. In his recent words of wisdom Ben now simply says that it is critically important that scientists “Speak science to power” as he courageously did. 

    Over many years I have seen international Climate Changes Conferences and Summits come and go.  There have been successes and failures.  From the inaugural, flawed international treaty in 1997 where governments first pledged to reduce greenhouse gases, global leaders have had many opportunities to take real action. Too often, these important moments have sadly simply been wasted. 

    The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. 
    – It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
    – Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
    – To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.
    – The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects
    – Activities in the forest sector that  reduces emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, were re-iterated as an integral element of the Paris Agreement.

    So what is different about COP26? 

    The COP 26 has been hailed as the biggest climate moment since the Paris Agreement in 2015. What’s different from what has come before – and why  is it so important?  The key difference is about raising ambition but also the focus on nature, finance, energy transition, transition to net-zero and adaptation and mitigation.  COP26 also takes on a special significance as it is the fifth summit since the Paris Agreement (see above). According to the treaty, this means countries must come with their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 194 countries have submitted their first NDCs as part of COP 25 and only 13 have submitted revisions according to UNFCCC, see here.  For a good look into why NDCs are important, see here.

    CIDT’s recent work on NDCs 

    Country NDCs are perhaps best seen as “work in progress”. They have to be updated every five years because the scientific understanding of climate change improves with each passing year. More ambitious actions are being continually drafted as time moves forward and the required political support grows.  Many countries are now in the process of devising and releasing their updated plans.  CIDT’s recent work on supporting countries with their NDCs can be read here and here.


    What is the Goal of the COP 26?

    The key goal of COP26 is for countries to agree on concrete commitment to keep a temperature rise limit of 1.5 degrees within reach – otherwise the ecological consequences for our planet could be catastrophic.

    COP26 will last 12 days, running from Oct 31 to Nov 12. Some of the key conversations will be around net-zero emissions targets, policies to help vulnerable communities adapt to the consequences of the climate crisis, and how to pay for it all.

    Who is going to COP 26?  

    Up to 200 world leaders and an estimated 25,000 delegates are likely to attend. Many others, including many climate activists, will be in Glasgow to protest and have their voices heard. Many others around the globe will be following developments online.

    What is the urgency of COP 26?

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently released a landmark report, a “code red for humanity” which confirmed that without radical reductions in carbon emissions this decade, temperature rises above 1.5 degrees would be inevitable and irreversible.

    3 Key Facts from the recent IPCC Report

    The global surface temperature between 2011 and 2020 was 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than it was between 1850 and 1900. 

    If the temperature rise exceeds 1.5 degrees extreme heat waves can be expected to happen every five years. 

    Sea levels can be expected to rise for the rest of the century because of irreversible change that has already happened.

    Why are staff from CIDT going to COP 26?

    For many years, the CIDT has been working on a number of important projects and programmes across Africa.

    These projects include the current and the recent large Citizen Voices for Change: Congo Basin forest monitoring project (CV4C), the  Strengthening Forest and Wildlife Monitoring and Law Enforcement in the Congo Basin (Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Republic of Congo) and the current European Union and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Forest Governance Markets and Climate programme funded project fighting illegal logging across the Republic of Congo. As a long standing partners of the UK government’s FGMC programme over the last decade in the Congo Basin, our efforts to protect Congo Basin Forests are yielding results on the ground as demonstrated in our recent case studies, but a lot more needs to be done to protect the second most important forest block on the planet.

    On the back of our long track record we have privileged to be invited to COP 26 to show case our Congo Basin Forestry and Climate Change work in the “Blue Zone” of the Glasgow Exhibition Centre of the COP 26.  

    We will be working with members of Commission of Central African Forests (COMIFAC) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) team.

    Representation from all countries at these large international conferences has always been important. Back in 2015 CIDT were working on the FONERWA Programme in Rwanda and we were pleased to support a delegation from Rwanda to attend the successful COP 21 in Paris see where the important Paris Agreement was signed up.

    What we are going to be doing there? 

    We want to join others to give voice to Civil Society Organisations, local and Indigenous Peoples and to hear the voices of the private sector, scientists and governments and showcase our experiences. 

    We want to highlight the importance of tropical forests (like those in the Congo basin) in combatting climate change and also articulate the critical role that civil society organisations, local and indigenous communities play in safeguarding these forests through the work they do in monitoring activities taking place in these forests. 

    In addition we want to call for action to strengthen the work of local civil society, environmental defenders and indigenous peoples at the forefront of the fighting deforestation and protection of forests.  We will do so through a panel discussion of experts drawn from African civil society leaders, experts from the European Forest Institute, FAO and Chatham House. 

    Why are the Congo basin forests (and indeed all other tropical forests) important for climate change  

    Trees in forests are nature’s most efficient way of taking in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and converting it to wood and the oxygen that trees breathe out. Over many years through economic and general human development, we have catastrophically reduced the size of tropical forests thereby drastically reducing nature capacity to deal with the climate change problem. It is because of this that preserving tropical forests is one of the pillars of the Paris Agreement. However, to ensure that tropical forests are preserved the international community needs to fulfil its commitment to provide funding and support for the conservation of tropical forests.

     What will constitute a success?    

    We want to give voice to others in order to increase the necessary funding for their important work.   Our panel discussions and future looking ambitions contribute to drive support towards local communities and indigenous peoples to protect forests, fight illegal deforestation and wildlife trafficking and consequently keep Congo Basin forests standing for the good of the planet. We want to help achieve a Fair Deal to save the important forests of Central Africa in the Congo Basin one of the key lungs of our planet.

    A QUICK GUIDE TO COP 26

    What Is the COP? It’s an annual climate summit convened by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a climate body of the UN. 

    COP stands for Conference of the Parties — meaning a gathering of countries – and 2021 will be the 26th time, that it’s taken place. Hence: COP26. 

    For a 60 second guide to COP 26 then view this video

    View this simple and easy to understand guide to Climate Change and what we can all do. 

    If you want to understand more about the UK Government’s official position and ambition for COP 26.

    Visit this link if you want to see who else is going to COP 26.

    If you want to understand why we at the University of Wolverhampton recently signed up to “Race to Zero” see this blog post.

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  • Sharing civil society experiences from the Republic of Congo with University staff

    16 August 2021
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    CIDT’s PhD student Mr Teodyl Nkuintchua presented his ongoing PhD research on civil society accountability in the Republic of Congo at the Wolverhampton Researchers’ Week and Annual Research Conference June 2021. Teodyl shares a snapshot of his research in this blog:

    “Accountability refers to the process through which an organisation gives account to their stakeholders and, addresses any gap that those stakeholders may identify. In Africa, most studies have emphasised on the role that civil society organisations (CSOs) play in demanding account to governments and companies. But little is known about whether and how civil society itself is accountable vis-à-vis other actors.

    In the context of Congo, such knowledge could have important implications. A large portion of the development aid to Congo is channelled through CSOs who act as intermediaries between donors and other constituencies: state, rural communities, and their own staff. But CSOs are not only intermediaries. They are also part of a civil society ‘community’ meaning that they interact with their peers. Such closeness among CSOs may also shape the way in which they perceive and operationalise accountability. Consequently, this study may inform the entire aid system as well as help address specific issues that affect the life of civil society in the country.

    The research aims to deal with the following questions: how do CSOs and their stakeholders perceive accountability? How do CSOs operationalise accountability? And, how relevant are their efforts with respect to the expectations of their stakeholders? This qualitative investigation within two case studies in Congo uses a mix of semi-structured interview, focus group discussion, observation and archival research. From earliest interactions between the researcher and a few informants, the concept of ‘civil society accountability’ is loaded with both praise and suspicion; and this may have to do with the historical context of the country. The research is almost halfway through – so readers may expect more insights in the coming months.”

    Teodyl played an important role as technical specialist on CIDT’s EU funded Citizen’s Voices for Change project from 2016-20, leading on the development of sustainable networks of well-informed local non-state actors.

     

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  • Breaking the repetitive cycle: How re-imagining civil society funding could help us all weather the coming storm

    12 July 2021
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    A strong global civil society will help us all to confront ongoing environmental and human rights crises. But the fate of our civil society partners, and of new regulatory approaches to due diligence, depends on exploring new approaches to funding.

    As Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C), a creative capacity- strengthening project draws to a close, the Centre for International Development and Training and its civil society partners in the Congo Basin are reflecting on the future. The success of innovative due diligence rules currently being adopted globally may hinge on re-thinking funding and support to civil society organisations (CSO).

    A serious climate crisis is bearing down on us, aggravated by unrelenting deforestation and biodiversity in free fall. Child labour and human rights abuse continue to taint commodity supply chains. Many committed parties have been engaged in combatting such issues for years, fuelled by considerable grant investments and gaining significant ground in areas of governance such as stakeholder involvement, transparency, traceability, accountability. Despite the fact that so many have put their shoulders to the wheel, however, the tipping points for climate, forests and biodiversity are not receding.

    A multitude of factors are slowing progress, of course. Too many issues need urgent attention, and resources to attend to them are inadequate. Political will is often lacking. Policy coherence is elusive, and one policy silo cheerfully digs a grave for another policy silo’s heartfelt ambitions. Corruption is a multi-headed beast that seems difficult to lay to rest. At the private sector’s behest, governments avoid regulation and opt for ‘voluntary measures’ that have consistently failed for decades, without much consequence to industry – the list goes on.

    One thing stands out, however: Lack of global progress is not for want of innovation or commitment on the part of civil society, or the donors who fund them. Taking the EU and FCDO’s CV4C project as an example, civil society partners in key timber-producing countries − Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo − have made bold efforts to provide independent oversight of forests, fight against illegality in the forest sector, and to give voice to communities affected by forest destruction. Bolstered by EU and FCDO funding, small organisations have brought – and won − legal action against timber companies, assisted governments with procedural manuals and long-lapsed judicial transparency and reinvigorated collection of unpaid forest taxes and fines. They have created networks of independent forest monitors to cover vast forested territories. They have standardised methodologies for collecting data on specific forest illegalities. They have reached across borders to help each other with best practices, and integrated cross-cutting issues such as gender responsiveness and the rights of Indigenous Peoples into their work to ensure that the most under-represented within at-risk populations are heard.

    Like so many civil society organisations all over the world, CV4C partner organisations in five countries of the Congo Basin are innovative, dedicated, brave.

    And vulnerable. They work in uncertain contexts, whether these are to do with independent forest monitoring, or any number of environmental, social or human rights areas. Authorities at any level may have a ‘blow hot, blow cold’ relationship with respect for human rights or the rule of law. Threats and intimidation are not rare, and corruption can ravage the most proactive efforts. In such situations, even publishing a critical report can be dangerous, much less going into a forest where timber criminality is present and witnesses are few. Such insecurity could easily cripple initiative: The only surprise is that it does not do so more often.

    The operational context may be not be within a funder’s power to change, but civil society partners also live with precariousness on a more mundane level: Financially, they have no buffer. An illness, a computer failure, a vehicle that can no longer be repaired, an office that cannot be properly locked, lack of Internet access, regular power outages – such simple issues can derail a small organisation. To overcome this, they partner with Northern NGOs – strong, functional partnerships that both sides value; this can expose them, however, to accusations of being influenced by foreign interests.

    Within a large project such as CV4C, partner staff watch final project deadlines approach knowing that they may lose their jobs unless new funding can be secured, and the longevity of project gains secured teeters. Living hand to mouth, project to project means that:

    • When each grant ends, staff turnover in partner organisations increases;
    • Small CSOs have immense difficulty developing a long-term strategy while engaged in a short-term scramble for new They monitor multimillion-dollar industries and sectors while their own organisations barely scrape by;
    • CSOs cannot recruit and retain skilled experts, when they do not know whether they will have the money to offer them a multi-year contract. Linked to this, sometimes existing staff are shoe-horned into new project roles that do not really suit their skills, just to retain them − somehow;
    • Interesting, pioneering achievements may never be reported because everyone’s time is spoken for and no one has the budget for communications, so with the next change in staff, institutional memory is lost;
    • For many organisations working in complex sectors, fundamental needs go beyond office equipment and salaries. In the timber sector, for instance, CSO representatives should venture into tropical forests confident that their vehicle will not leave them stranded;
    • Broader threats exist: CSOs need to know that they can publish a report on a sensitive issue, and afford to hire a lawyer to defend themselves if a company sues them, as certain companies use this tactic to silence critics. Increasingly, environmental and human rights defenders are subjected to intimidation and persecution; their offices are broken into and their equipment, vandalised. They must be able to hire legal representation and draw international attention to their plight.

    Seeing to such needs requires significant budgets that do not fit easily within current grant frameworks, so when a new cycle of grants begins, rather than expanding on existing skills and initiatives in a continuous manner, both funding partners and grant recipients find themselves back at the starting point, tackling capacity-building basics and hosting training sessions for a new crew of civil society representatives.

    The result is fatigue on both sides, with donor(s) and grant recipient(s) trapped in a repetitive funding loop, seemingly destined always to roll the boulder uphill. Rather than choose between exhausting ourselves or getting flattened, perhaps a third possibility could be found?

    Grants tend to have very targeted objectives, yet miss the broader goal of building CSOs that can harness national collective action to hold governments, the private sector and indeed other citizens to account on a consistent and long- term basis. As the CV4C project illustrates, donors have been assiduous in funding strong projects that meet the desired objectives, but this cycle of frustration relates more to what is not included in individual grant objectives.

    Things that do not fit in the project category or were not foreseen in the original application cannot be funded by the grant. Basic overheads – buying a printer, accountancy software, photocopier repair – may keep the office functioning, but tend not to be adequately covered unless they are directly linked to specific project activities. Nor can most grants be easily modified to meet needs as they arise; if the need was not foreseen three years before, it cannot be met now.

    Perhaps starting a conversation among funding partners and grant recipients about modifying how we approach funding for CSOs could turn this unfortunate cycle into something more secure and continuous, and more efficient. Together, we could discover ways to fund CSOs for the role they play in society, rather than for specific, narrow project activities. Somehow, funding needs to be less shackled to a set of deliverables, and serve eventually to develop sustainable, home-grown sources of funding. Any variety of possibilities could be explored in the immediate future:

    • Continuity-funding: allowing a given percentage of project funds to be devoted to continuity of salaries and overhead, and to feed into a gap fund to carry salaries and overhead between grants; or allow a certain portion of a grant to be undefined, to meet needs as they arise;
    • Donors could commit to providing predictable, longer-term and less project-specific funding to CSO partners with whom they have trusted relationships or that have proven credibility;
    • Donors could work with financial institutions and banks to set up foundation-managed funds in order to finance civil society actions in specific areas, such as independent forest monitoring;
    • Already international programmes such as REDD+ and FLEGT insist on the participation of civil society as an essential ingredient of improved governance; over a broader timeframe, international funding partners could insist that such reforms include earmarking monies for CSOs;
    • A portion of foreign aid could be disbursed to civil society, and eventually conditioned on domestic governments matching funds through a percentage of petroleum-, agricultural-, forest- or mining-sector Increased reliance on civil society monitoring in various sectors avoids the problem of vested interests, and liberates authorities to use their resources to pursue infringements that CSOs have uncovered. A model could be explored in which government and statutory agencies focus on regulation and policy formulation, and subsequent enforcement actions, whilst the implementation role, e.g., monitoring, is given to CSOs via commissioned arrangements funded largely by the state.

    Innovation in regulatory approaches must be matched by imagination in funding.

    Figuring out how to keep civil society afloat in difficult times, and how to build on previous gains of short-term funding is especially urgent now, as due diligence rules are being adopted that will depend on objective, third-party information. In France (Loi sur le devoir de vigilance) and in The Netherlands these rules are already enacted. The European Union is expected to issue two such proposals in 2021: one to do with ‘imported deforestation’; the other to require companies, including financial institutions, to examine their value chains for abusive and destructive impacts. The United Kingdom is considering similar measures, as is the United States.

    But innovative regulatory measures will be pointless without objective, reliable data on supply sources from the countries of origin to underpin the due diligence process. We must examine whom we trust to provide accurate information, as the private sector and government have vested interests in the result. On a practical level, such data is typically difficult to obtain, requiring operatives on the ground − as for example in the forest sector. Here, civil society is already innovating, having recently obtained ISO certification 9001:2015 for standardised methods of data collection in the timber sector (Système Normalisé d’Observation Indépendante Externe); they are now working to deploy such methods to the mining sector, and to follow deforestation and forest degradation. In sum, due diligence rules also will depend on consolidating and building on the hard-won gains of a variety of projects such as CV4C.

    This single example underscores the great spectrum of solutions to societal problems that can be proposed where civil society is strong and viable over the long term. Civil society cannot be strong where they are subject to boom-and-bust cycles of funding. We are not prepared for the coming storm. Deforestation increased significantly in 2020. Biodiversity continues to collapse. Governments consistently fail to meet climate goals. Perhaps the time has come to entrust more to civil society, in the first instance, by ensuring that they are left standing when the dust clears.

    Click here to download this article.

    June 2021, Nicole Gérard, Ph.D.


    Led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), the ‘Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C)’ project was designed to establish a strong, sustainable partnership of forest monitoring non-state actors (NSAs) or Civil Society actors in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Republic of Congo. The project sought to address this challenge by strengthening the capacity, influence and long-term viability of IM organisations to perform essential watchdog functions. Find out more at https://cidt.org.uk/cv4c.

    This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU, FCDO or the University of Wolverhampton.

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  • Briser le cycle répétitif : Une nouvelle conception du financement de la société civile pourrait nous aider tous à traverser la tempête à venir

    12 July 2021
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    Une société civile mondiale forte nous aidera tous à faire face aux crises actuelles de l’environnement et des droits humains. Mais le sort de nos partenaires de la société civile, et des nouvelles approches réglementaires de diligence raisonnée, pourrait dépendre de l’exploration de nouvelles façons d’envisager leur financement.

    Alors que Voix des citoyens pour le changement (CV4C), un projet créatif de renforcement des capacités, touche à sa fin, le Centre for International Development and Training et ses partenaires de la société civile dans le Bassin du Congo réfléchissent à l’avenir. Le succès des règles innovantes de diligence raisonnée en cours d’adoption au niveau mondial pourrait dépendre de notre capacité à réimaginer le financement et le soutien aux organisations de la société civile (OSC).

    Une grave crise climatique déferle sur nous, aggravée par une déforestation incessante et une biodiversité en chute libre. Le travail des enfants et les violations des droits humains continuent d’entacher les chaînes d’approvisionnement des produits de base. De nombreuses parties engagées luttent contre ces problèmes depuis des années, investissant des subventions considérables soldés par des gains importants dans des domaines de gouvernance tels que l’implication des parties-prenantes, la transparence, la traçabilité et la redevabilité. Mais malgré le fait que tant de personnes aient mis le cœur à l’ouvrage, les points de basculement pour le climat, les forêts et la biodiversité ne reculent pas.

    Une multitude de facteurs ralentissent les progrès, bien sûr. Trop de problèmes nécessitent une attention urgente et les ressources pour y faire face sont insuffisantes. La volonté politique fait aussi très souvent défaut. La cohérence des politiques est insaisissable, et un silo politique creuse allègrement une tombe pour les ambitions sincères d’un autre silo politique. La corruption est un monstre à plusieurs têtes qui semble très difficile à abattre. À la demande du secteur privé, les gouvernements évitent la réglementation et optent pour des « mesures volontaires » qui échouent systématiquement, sans grande conséquence pour l’industrie, depuis des décennies − la liste est longue.

    Une chose ressort cependant : L’absence de progrès mondial n’est pas faute d’innovation ou d’engagement de la part de la société civile ou des bailleurs de fonds qui les financent. Si l’on prend l’exemple du projet CV4C de l’UE et du FCDO, les partenaires de la société civile dans des pays producteurs de bois − le Cameroun, la République centrafricaine, la République démocratique du Congo, le Gabon et la République du Congo − ont déployé des efforts audacieux pour assurer une surveillance indépendante des forêts, lutter contre l’illégalité dans le secteur forestier et donner la parole aux communautés touchées par la destruction des forêts. Soutenues par le financement de l’UE et du FCDO, de petites organisations ont intenté − et gagné − une action en justice contre des entreprises du bois, aidé les gouvernements avec des manuels de procédure et une transparence judiciaire délaissée de longue date, et ont redynamisé le recouvrement des taxes et amendes forestières impayées. Elles ont créé des réseaux d’observateurs forestiers indépendants capables de couvrir de vastes territoires. Elles ont normalisé les méthodologies de collecte de données sur des illégalités forestières spécifiques. Elles ont franchi les frontières pour s’entraider en matière de bonnes pratiques et ont intégré dans leur travail des questions transversales telles que la sensibilisation au genre et les droits des peuples autochtones, afin de s’assurer que les populations les moins représentées et les plus à risque soient entendues.

    Comme de nombreuses organisations de la société civile partout dans le monde, les organisations partenaires de CV4C dans cinq pays du Bassin du Congo sont innovantes, dévouées, courageuses.

    Et vulnérables. Elles travaillent dans des contextes incertains, qu’il s’agisse de l’observation indépendante des forêts comme ici, ou de tout autre domaine environnemental, social ou des droits humains. Les autorités, à quelque niveau que ce soit, peuvent avoir une relation ‘souffle chaud, souffle froid’ avec le respect des droits humains ou de l’État de droit. Les menaces et les intimidations ne sont pas rares, et la corruption peut saccager les efforts les plus proactifs. Dans de telles situations, même la publication d’un rapport critique peut être dangereuse, et d’autant plus le fait de se rendre dans une forêt où la criminalité forestière est présente et les témoins sont rares. Une telle insécurité pourrait facilement paralyser l’initiative : La seule surprise est qu’elle ne le fasse pas plus souvent.

    Les bailleurs de fonds ne sont peut-être pas en mesure de modifier le contexte opérationnel, mais les partenaires de la société civile sont également dans la précarité à un niveau plus banal : Financièrement, ils n’ont pas de marge de manœuvre. Une maladie, une panne d’ordinateur, un véhicule que l’on ne peut plus réparer, un bureau que l’on ne peut pas verrouiller correctement, un accès intermittent à l’Internet, les carences régulières en énergie électrique – autant de problèmes simples qui peuvent faire dérailler une petite organisation. Pour surmonter cela, elles s’associent avec des ONG du Nord − des partenariats solides et fonctionnels que les deux parties apprécient ; cela peut cependant les exposer à des accusations d’être influencées par des intérêts étrangers.

    Dans le cadre d’un projet de grande envergure tel que CV4C, les partenaires surveillent l’approche des échéances finales du projet sachant que certains risquent de perdre leur emploi si un nouveau financement n’est pas obtenu, et la longévité des gains décrits ci-dessus vacille. Vivre au jour le jour, d’un projet à l’autre, signifie que :

    • Lorsque chaque subvention prend fin, la rotation du personnel dans les organisations partenaires augmente ;
    • Les petites OSC ont d’immenses difficultés à développer une stratégie à long terme alors qu’elles sont engagées à court terme dans une course pour obtenir de nouveaux Elles surveillent des industries et des secteurs qui valent des millions de dollars tout en se serrant la ceinture ;
    • Les OSC ne peuvent pas recruter et retenir des experts qualifiés alors qu’elles ne savent pas si elles auront l’argent nécessaire pour leur proposer un contrat pluriannuel. Dans le même ordre d’idées, il arrive que des membres du personnel en place soient affectés à de nouveaux projets qui ne correspondent pas vraiment à leurs compétences, juste pour les retenir − tant bien que mal ;
    • Des réalisations intéressantes et pionnières ne seront peut-être jamais rapportées parce que le temps de chacun est compté et que personne n’a de budget de communication, de sorte qu’au prochain changement de personnel, la mémoire institutionnelle se perd ;
    • Pour de nombreuses organisations travaillant dans des secteurs complexes, les besoins fondamentaux vont au-delà des équipements de bureau et des Dans le secteur du bois, par exemple, les représentants des OSC devraient pouvoir s’aventurer dans les forêts tropicales avec la certitude que leur véhicule ne les laissera pas en rade.
    • Des menaces plus larges existent : Les OSC doivent savoir qu’elles peuvent publier un rapport sur une question sensible et avoir les moyens d’engager un avocat pour se défendre si une entreprise les poursuit en justice, car certaines sociétés ont recours à cette tactique pour faire taire leurs critiques. De plus en plus, les défenseurs de l’environnement et des droits humains font l’objet d’intimidations et de persécutions ; leurs bureaux sont parfois cambriolés et leurs équipements vandalisés. Ils doivent pouvoir engager une représentation juridique et attirer l’attention de la communauté internationale sur leur

    Répondre à de tels besoins nécessite des budgets importants qui ne s’intègrent pas facilement dans le cadre de subventions actuels. Ainsi, lorsqu’un nouveau cycle de subventions commence, plutôt que de développer de manière continue les compétences et les initiatives existantes, les partenaires financiers et les bénéficiaires de subventions se retrouvent au point de départ, s’attaquant aux bases du renforcement des capacités et organisant des sessions de formation pour une nouvelle équipe de représentants de la société civile.

    Il en résulte une fatigue des deux côtés, le(s) bailleur(s) de fonds et le(s) bénéficiaire(s) de subventions restent piégés dans une boucle de financement répétitive, apparemment destinés toujours à pousser le rocher vers le sommet. Plutôt que de choisir entre s’épuiser ou se faire aplatir, peut-être pourrait-on trouver une troisième possibilité ?

    Les subventions ont tendance à avoir des objectifs très ciblés, mais passent à côté de l’objectif plus large consistant à bâtir des OSC capables d’exploiter l’action collective nationale pour demander des comptes aux gouvernements, au secteur privé et même à d’autres citoyens sur une base cohérente et à long terme. Comme l’illustre le projet CV4C, les bailleurs de fonds ont été assidus dans le financement de projets solides qui répondent aux objectifs souhaités, mais ce cycle frustrant est davantage liée à ce qui n’est pas inclus dans les objectifs des subventions individuelles.

    Les éléments qui n’entrent pas dans la catégorie du projet ou qui n’étaient pas prévus dans la demande initiale ne peuvent pas être financés par la subvention. Les frais généraux de base − achat d’une imprimante, d’un logiciel de comptabilité, réparation d’une photocopieuse − peuvent maintenir le fonctionnement du bureau, mais ne sont généralement pas couverts de manière adéquate, à moins qu’ils ne soient directement liés à des activités de projet spécifiques. La plupart des subventions ne sont pas facilement modifiables pour répondre aux besoins au fur et à mesure qu’ils se présentent ; si le besoin n’était pas prévu trois ans auparavant, il ne peut pas être satisfait maintenant.

    Peut-être qu’en invitant une conversation entre les partenaires financiers et les bénéficiaires de subventions afin de repenser la manière dont nous abordons le financement des OSC, nous pourrions tous transformer ce serpent qui se mord la queue en quelque chose de plus sûr, de plus efficace. Ensemble, nous pourrions découvrir des moyens de financer les OSC pour le rôle qu’elles jouent dans la société, plutôt que pour des activités de projet spécifiques et restreintes. D’une manière ou d’une autre, le financement devrait être moins menotté à un ensemble de produits livrables, et servir éventuellement à développer des sources de financement durables et locales. Toutes sortes de possibilités pourraient être explorées dans un avenir immédiat :

    • Financement de continuité : permettre qu’un certain pourcentage des fonds du projet soit consacré à la continuité des salaires et aux frais généraux, et puisse alimenter un fonds d’appoint pour soutenir les salaires et les frais généraux entre les subventions ; ou permettre qu’une partie d’une subvention soit indéfinie, pour répondre aux besoins au fur et à mesure qu’ils se présentent ;
    • Les bailleurs de fonds pourraient s’engager à fournir un financement prévisible, à plus long terme et moins spécifique à un projet, aux OSC partenaires avec lesquelles ils entretiennent des relations de confiance ou qui ont fait la preuve de leur crédibilité ;
    • Les bailleurs de fonds peuvent collaborer avec des institutions financières et des banques pour mettre en place de fonds gérés par des fondations pour le financement d’actions de la société civile dans des domaines spécifiques tels que l’observation indépendante, par exemple ;
    • Des programmes internationaux tels que REDD+ et FLEGT insistent déjà sur la participation de la société civile entant qu’ingrédient essentiel d’une gouvernance améliorée ; à plus long terme, les partenaires financiers internationaux pourraient insister pour que ces réformes incluent l’affectation de fonds aux OSC ;
    • Une partie de l’aide étrangère pourrait être versée à la société civile et, éventuellement, être conditionnée à ce que les gouvernements nationaux apportent des fonds de contrepartie par le biais d’un pourcentage des taxes sur les secteurs pétrolier, agricole, forestier ou minier. Un recours accru à la surveillance par la société civile dans divers secteurs éviterait le problème des intérêts particuliers et libérerait les autorités de consacrer leurs ressources à la poursuite des infractions que les OSC auraient découvertes. Un modèle pourrait être envisagé dans lequel le gouvernement et les agences publiques se concentrent sur la réglementation et la formulation des politiques, ainsi que la répression éventuelle, tandis que le rôle de mise en œuvre − le suivi, par exemple − est confié aux OSC via des accords financés en grande partie par l’État.

    L’innovation dans les approches réglementaires devra s’accompagner d’imagination dans le financement.

    Il est particulièrement urgent de trouver un moyen de maintenir la société civile à flot en ces temps difficiles et de tirer parti des acquis du financement à court terme, car des règles de diligence raisonnée sont en cours d’adoption et dépendront d’informations objectives fournies par des tiers. En France et aux Pays-Bas, ces règles sont déjà promulguées. L’Union européenne devrait publier deux propositions dans ce sens en 2021 : l’une concernant la « déforestation importée » ; l’autre exigeant des entreprises, y compris des institutions financières, qu’elles examinent leurs chaînes d’approvisionnement pour y déceler des impacts abusifs et destructeurs. Le Royaume-Uni envisage des mesures similaires, tout comme les États-Unis.

    Mais les mesures réglementaires innovantes ne mèneront à rien sans données objectives et fiables sur les sources d’approvisionnement des pays d’origine, et sans informations indépendantes pour étayer le processus de diligence raisonnée. Nous devrions examiner à qui nous faisons confiance pour fournir des informations exactes, car le secteur privé et le gouvernement ont des intérêts particuliers dans le résultat. Sur le plan pratique, ces données sont généralement difficiles à obtenir, nécessitant des agents sur le terrain – comme par exemple dans le secteur forestier. Ici, la société civile innove déjà, ayant récemment obtenu la certification ISO 9001:2015 pour les méthodes normalisées de collecte de données dans le secteur du bois (Système Normalisé d’Observation Indépendante Externe) ; elle travaille maintenant à déployer de telles méthodes dans le secteur minier, et dans le suivi de la déforestation et de la dégradation des forêts. En somme, les règles de diligence raisonnée dépendront également de la consolidation et de la mise à profit des acquis durement gagnés par divers projets tels que CV4C.

    Rien qu’à lui, cet exemple souligne le large éventail de solutions aux problèmes sociétaux qui peuvent être proposées lorsque la société civile est forte et viable à long terme. La société civile ne peut pas être forte lorsqu’elle est soumise à des cycles de financement en dents de scie. Nous ne sommes pas préparés à la tempête qui s’annonce. La déforestation s’étend de manière significativeLa biodiversité continue de s’effondrer. Les gouvernements ratent systématiquement leurs objectifs climatiques. Le moment est venu de confier davantage à la société civile, dans un premier temps, en veillant à ce qu’elle soit toujours sur pied lorsque la poussière se dissipe.

    Cliquez ici pour télécharger cet article.

    Juin 2021, Nicole Gérard, Ph.D.


    Dirigé par le Centre pour la formation et le développement international de l’Université de Wolverhampton (CIDT), le projet ‘Voix des Citoyens pour le Changement’ (CV4C) a été conçu pour établir un partenariat fort et durable entre les acteurs non étatiques de l’observation indépendante des forêts, ou tous les acteurs de la société civile au Cameroun, République centrafricaine, République démocratique du Congo, Gabon et République du Congo. Ce projet cherchait à adresser ce défi en renforçant les capacités, d’influencé la performance et la viabilité à long terme des organisations de l’OI, afin de remplir leurs fonctions essentielles de surveillants. Pour en savoir plus, visitez : https://cidt.org.uk/cv4c/cv4c-fr. 

    La présente publication a été élaborée avec l’aide de l’Union européenne et Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). Le contenu de la publication relève de la seule responsabilité des auteurs et ne peut aucunement être considéré comme reflétant le point de vue de l’UE, FCDO ou de l’Université de Wolverhampton.

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  • Agriculture, Youth Employment and ‘Decent Work’

    14 March 2021
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    CIDT’s Professor Philip Dearden engaged a large audience on the theme of Agriculture, Youth Employment and ‘Decent Work’ in this webinar with Central Agricultural University, Imphal, India.

    Phil chose a rather personal medium to explore this topic as he explains in this short blog:

    “I was delighted to receive the invitation from CIDT’s alumni Professor E. V Divakara Sastry who is now working at Central Agricultural University at Imphal in the North East of India.  I have very fond memories of Professor Sastry from when he attended a three-month course in CIDT in the late 1980s.

    I also have very fond memories of working in India much earlier in my career, for example a most challenging evaluation study in 1989 of the Indian Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. This strenuous three-month assignment took me across the whole of India, from Kerala to Kashmir and across to Kohima and included a visit with my colleague, Geoff Wilkinson, to the KVKs at Imphal and Nagaland.

    CIDT has ‘earthy roots’ beginning its life as the AETU – Agricultural Education and Training Unit. However a personal as well as professional connection to the topic, led me to an examination of my paternal grandfather’s pictures of life on the land in the UK from 1920 – 1960.  Taking a social history approach to some of Harold Dearden’s paintings, I looked at some of the positive aspects of agricultural mechanisation replacing the hard physical work and drudgery of land based labour.  For me these visual images bring to life the past – and present! – challenges of why young people often do not choose to work on the land, within the context of the ongoing and persistent challenges of rural employment, both in the UK and elsewhere.

    A collection of Harold Dearden’s ‘Life on the Land’ pictures

    Spring Cabbage Pickers – Harold Dearden

    Turnip Harvest – Harold Dearden – Courtesy of Swindon Art Gallery


    Hurdle Maker by Harold Dearden

    Hurdle Maker – Harold Dearden

    Working the Fields by Harold Dearden

    Working the Fields – Harold Dearden


    Having provided a wide range of technical support to the International Labour Organisation, I know from my engagement of ILO stakeholders in many countries that the concept of “Decent Work” is paramount and highly significant in relation to agricultural development, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. “  See for example ILO work in Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro , Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Moldova.

    “Decent work ‘involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men'” (ILO, 2016)

    Phil briefly examined the important and emergent need for ‘green growth’ and the wide ranging ‘attributes’ that young agricultural graduates will require in the future.

    Graduate attributes table

    In conclusion, Phil emphasised the need for continuous agricultural curriculum change and the need to provide agricultural graduates with a wide range of knowledge, skills and attitudes including those, which would enable them to be entrepreneurs and/or start their own enterprises.

    Download the lecture slides and notes.

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  • The UN Global Compact – What is it and why it is important

    12 March 2021
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    Joining the UN Global Compact represents an important, public step to shape a sustainable future through principled business. In order to work internationally, institutions need to commit to international standards and the UN Global Compact provides a universal language and framework for corporate responsibility, which is expected by development partners like the United Nations (UN) and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

    I’m pleased to report that in recent weeks the University has signed up to two important global initiatives. In last week’s short blog I reported on why we have signed up to the Race to Zero initiative. Race to Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

    Here I want to talk about the United Nations Global Compact. By signing this important compact, we have committed ourselves to responsible business practices in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment, and corruption.

    The UN Global Compact, aims to mobilise a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want.

    To make this happen, the UN Global Compact supports organisations and companies to:

    1. Do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption; and
    2. Take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

    The Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact are derived from: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. In summary these principles are:

    Human Rights

    • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
    • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

    Labour Standards

    • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
    • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
    • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
    • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

    Environment

    • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
    • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
    • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

    Anti-Corruption

    • Principle 10: Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.

    These ten principles are intrinsic to the sustainability of business, people and the planet. They offer organisations and companies of all sizes a blueprint for contributing towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. Indeed it can also be argued that the United Nations Global Compact is uniquely positioned to support organisations and companies as they align their practices for a sustainable and inclusive future, while building back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With the broad-based support of all 193 participant countries of the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Global Compact remains the single, global normative authority and reference point for action and leadership within a growing global corporate sustainability movement.

    The pandemic and ongoing climate crisis has compromised much of the progress the world had attained since the adoption of the Global Goals in 2015. The new Global Compact strategy aims to regain that lost ground and advance much, much further by persuading the global business community, and its leaders, to scale up their contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

    Looking ahead, the University will need to institutionally report to the UN Global Compact with any progress we have made concerning the 10 Principles. The UN very much view this reporting as a continual development process or, in business terms, a process of Kaizen – i.e. an ongoing process of continuous improvement.

    Our institutional commitment to the UN Global Compact allows us to:

    This also means that others across the University will be free to bid for FCDO and UN work with the confidence that we are institutionally aligned and committed to the important UN Global Compact.

    Our important university work on the associated UN Sustainable Development Goals has been reported on in a previous blog, see here.

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  • CIDT policy briefings explore how social protection must adapt in the face of COVID-19

    10 March 2021
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    The UN World Food Programme (WFP), with the support of CIDT through the Social Protection Learning Facility, has published three policy briefs that focus on social protection and COVID-19 in situations of displacement, climate-related disasters and rural/urban contexts.

    CIDT lead the Social Protection Learning Facility, which is an initiative led by the WFP Regional Bureau for East Africa. The Facility works to provide research, analysis and technical assistance to WFP Country Offices, as they seek to use social protection systems as a mechanism to respond to COVID-19 in their respective countries.

    The three briefings highlight the compounding impacts of COVID-19 in places that already face substantial challenges to reduce poverty, vulnerability and instability.

    Social Protection and COVID-19 in Urban and Rural Settings

    This policy brief looks at the impacts that COVID-19 has on lives and livelihoods in either rural or urban contexts. Whilst it is understood that COVID-19 may have a more urban geographic outlook, the pandemic has implications for the vulnerability of those in both rural and urban settings and the brief explores how social protection might respond to livelihoods in these two different contexts.

    Social Protection and COVID-19 Amidst Climate Shocks

    Social protection can be used to build resilience of households experience climate-related shocks and stresses. This policy brief looks at some of the potential impacts and implications of the coronavirus pandemic on climate resilience work in East Africa drawing lessons from WFP’s programming in a number of countries.

    Social Protection and COVID-19 in Situations of Displacement

    In fragile and unstable contexts, existing vulnerabilities are compounded by the effects of the pandemic, exacerbating the existing challenges of saving lives and protecting livelihoods. This policy brief explores the implications of the pandemic for social protection in fragile contexts and how approaches may need to adapt for improved delivery of services.

    Initially set up in May 2020, the Facility continues to work in partnership with the WFP Regional Bureau and East Africa Country Offices and the delivery team remains focused on:

    • Providing technical support: providing advice to Country Offices based on their collective experience and knowledge of social protection and country contexts; and
    • Documenting learning: Compiling and disseminating lessons, findings and experiences for future policy and programme design decision-making.

    Links

    1. Social Protection and COVID-19 in Urban and Rural Settings
    2. Social Protection and COVID-19 Amidst Climate Shocks
    3. Social Protection and COVID-19 in Situations of Displacement
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  • Conflict is the new ‘hazard’ on the social protection block

    9 March 2021
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    Article first published on the Institute for Development Studies website. Authors: Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Rachel Slater (CIDT), Jeremy Lind, Paul Harvey, Pauline Oosterhoff, Becky Faith, Lars Otto Naess, Jan Selby, Tony Roberts, Daniel Longhurst, Brigitte Rohwerder, Ella Haruna (CIDT).

    ———

    There has never been a more important moment to understand how to work with and help the most vulnerable people cope better with global shocks and crises. The global pandemic has shown how fragile our systems, communities and countries are – even in richer countries. The current status quo of social assistance in crises is deeply dysfunctional. Too many people in desperate need are getting no assistance and even for those that do get help, its delivery is too patchy to be relied upon.

    Although social protection has the potential to address crises in different ways, the evidence base is thematically and geographically patchy. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office-funded (FCDO)-funded Better Assistance in Crises (BASIC) Research programme aims to inform policy and programming on effective social assistance in situations of crisis, including those experiencing climate-related shocks and stressors, protracted conflict and forced displacement.

    We are working across eight cross-cutting areas as we continue to refine our research agenda in the programme’s inception year:

    Routine, effective and efficient delivery

    Whilst the ‘shock-responsive social protection’ agenda broadly has gained traction and produced multiple initiatives on the ground, less is known about its success and applicability in conflict-affected situations. The agenda has largely focused on climate shocks or ‘natural’ disasters, so very little is known about how, for example, longstanding programmes in Iraq, Syria, Yemen have been maintained.

    What is known about how social assistance is sustained in crisis, especially those of violent conflict and instability? Across this theme, we are looking at the effectiveness and efficiency of a humanitarian response routed through social assistance, and at the ways that government-led social assistance can be routinely and sustainably delivered.

    Financing and value for money

    Financing assistance in FCA is complex, with strong siloes or restrictions between humanitarian, climate and developmental assistance, and often constrained options to improve the financing for programmes and systems development. At the same time, the “value for money” and cost vs benefit of investing in long term approaches to risk reduction are increasingly well established. However, the right balance of actors, programmes, and financial tools in fragile and conflict situations remains a fragmented discussion, even though in practice these often co-exist and need to evolve together.

    Given the extremely risky world in which we live where shocks are expected, and a long-term perspective is necessary we will ask better questions about the trade-offs involved. This approach is interrogating how risks, to households and to government systems, are ‘costed in’ to any assessment of options, the balance between programming objectives and financing imperatives, and how short-term pressures can be transparently weighed against long-term costs and benefits.

    Risks, accountability and technology

    Aid agencies, governments and donors are investing in new ways of managing data and processes such as registration in ways that open new possibilities for greater accountability and efficiency but also risk new exclusions and violations of the rights of vulnerable groups. The use of digital technologies and pressure to innovate can be in tension with the precautionary principle; the voices and interests of affected populations must remain central.

    The overarching research question is whether the most vulnerable people in crisis situations benefit from these systems? This involves shifting the focus from ‘inclusion errors’ (those who are included/benefit by mistake) to those experiencing ‘exclusion errors’ (those who are excluded from benefits by system failings/errors); either because of the design of the system of because of structural inequalities in access to and use of digital technologies.

    Climate resilience

    We need to improve our understanding of the nature, causes and multiple dimensions of climate vulnerability and resilience within FCA contexts; and to examine the role that social protection plays, and might play, in enhancing climate resilience within these settings. This will involve examining how climate resilience should be understood in FCA settings, in the context of climate change affecting the incidence of sudden shocks; leading to longer-term environmental changes, and also the fact that climate adaptation and mitigation actions may cause or contribute to economic and political changes.

    What role does social protection play, or might play, in enhancing climate resilience within FCA? We are focusing particularly on how social protection affects, or might affect, the availability of those environmental and socio-economic resources which underpin climate resilience, in both the short- and long-term.

    Politics, principles, and the role of the state

    Places that are marked by violence, conflict and contested public authority, present difficulties in extending social protection coverage and strengthening national systems for social assistance. Other stakeholders such as non-state armed organisations, religious figures and networks, clans, and customary authorities, often have a significant influence on provisioning and mediating decisions on who is covered and who is not – even in cases of ‘formal’ social protection.

    With a focus on the politics of social assistance in crises in terms of formal policies and approaches of governments and international actors) and from below (how social assistance is governed at the sub-national level), this theme is exploring the ways in which crisis-affected populations seek to navigate access to social assistance in contested spaces, and perceptions of different support that is provided.

    Displacement

    The increasing duration of exile is a consequence of the intractability of the political crises that produce displacement in the first place. Over the long term, displacement itself inevitably increases the difficulty of resolving such crises, increasing multiple vulnerabilities, damaging individual livelihoods and interrupting education. Climate instability may exacerbate both the causes and the effects of displacement. Over time, displacement becomes a further factor in ongoing instability at national or regional level.

    While political will has recently manifested in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), it is a complex and dynamic political and conceptual landscape. The GCR emphasises self-sufficiency and sustainability of responses to displacement, which frames an important role for social assistance.

    Inclusion

    A variety of barriers means that existing programmes do not reach vulnerable and marginalised groups, while accessing social assistance can sometimes entail protection risks, such as violence, theft, bribery and intra-household and community tensions.

    In this theme, we are focusing on what prevents social assistance from meeting the needs of excluded and vulnerable people during crises and what can be done to address this. Such intersecting vulnerabilities include those relating to gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, caste, ethnicity, and statelessness. Transformative approaches to social protection that focus not just on assistance but on areas such as the right to work, freedom of movement and protection from violence are therefore especially needed, precisely when they are most difficult to put into place.

    Livelihoods and transformation

    While mainstream social protection sits in the realms of ensuring lives and livelihoods are supported in the event of predictable stresses (such as seasonality, loss of income from retirement, disability, or unemployment), disaster response (and the humanitarian system that accompanies it) is about planning for and managing the fallout of extreme events (most typically natural hazards) such as droughts, storms, and floods, turning into crises. Indeed, the new ‘hazard’ on the social protection block is conflict.

    We need to understand if the standard framings and interventions of social protection are suited to contexts of conflict and violence. How do we provide social protection and rights in these places, how do we set up systems that can change the structures in which people can access livelihood opportunities? This theme is looking at the ways that the sectors have approached risk, shock and livelihood resilience and explore if there are avenues for bringing these distinct conceptualisations and associated programming into one framing.

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  • Talking about power and privilege in the workplace on International Women’s Day

    8 March 2021
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    Image: Women in Leadership Course for The African Union in Rwanda
    ————

    ‘The true tale of the lion hunt will never be told as long as the hunter tells the story…’ (African Proverb)

    During the last few years we have witnessed a rapid growth of gender movements like #metoo, #timesup, #generationequality, but Black, Asian and ethnic minority voices remain at the periphery of these campaigns. CIDT’s Rufsana Begum argues that we cannot truly celebrate ‘International Women’s Day’ until women are equal with each other.

    Speaking on intersectional approaches to women in leadership at the University International Women’s Day Careers Conference Rufsana shares some highlights from the session:

    “Workplaces consist of invisible power dynamics and privileges that sustain social inequalities.”

    Our inability or reluctance to dialogue openly and honestly with BAME women leads to marginalising their experiences. If there is to be real change it is imperative that we go beyond the ‘politeness protocol’, have ‘uncomfortable conversations’ in the workplaces and create inclusive spaces where BAME women can share their lived realities.

    In the words of Morgan Jenkins (2018)

    “We cannot come together if we do not recognize our differences first. These differences are best articulated when women of colour occupy the centre of the discourse while white women remain silent, actively listen, and do not try to reinforce supremacy by inserting themselves in the middle of the discussion.”

    In this process, we understand the role power plays in our working relationships, how our privileges maintain status quo and challenge micro-aggressive behaviours that prevent BAME women from speaking out.

    This is a call to action: interrogate power and analyse privilege in support of genuine equality

    Understanding Privilege

    Privilege comes in many forms, including race, gender, sexuality, ability, language, wealth, physical fitness, safety, and educational attainment and even height.  However, the people who have those things are usually unaware of their power and influence.

    According to American sociologist, Prof Michael Kimmel, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

    “I am the generic person. I am a middle class white man. I have no race, no class, no gender. I am universally generalizable,” says Kimmel.

    Privilege is systematic in favouring, validating and including certain social identities over the other.

    Having privilege does not mean that an individual is immune to life’s hardships, but it does mean having an unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity.

    It’s important to understand – just because we have don’t have certain kinds of privileges, it doesn’t mean that we don’t benefit from other kinds of privileges. I’ll use myself as an example: I am a woman, Bangladeshi-British but I also have the privilege of living in the UK, I am heterosexual, holding a graduate degree, having financial resources, and access to healthcare.

    Understanding Power

    Power is the ability to influence and make decisions that affect others.

    Derald Wing Sue (2016); argues that “true POWER resides in the ability to define reality; where the members of the majority group are able to impose their world view on the rest of the members of marginalised groups which discounts their experiential reality where race/ethnicity are a constant factor.”  Members of majority group possess the tools – education, media, social groups, peers, institutions – that define and reaffirm their worldview.

    The worldview of BAME women and men is different from white people; acknowledging this is the FIRST step. Race, ethnicity and colour make up our social identity and how we experience and see the social world; therefore race issues are inter-connected with issues around gender equality.

    Understanding intersectionality

    The biggest obstacle is that we keep trying to silo the issues and that we’re not seeing them as interconnected the way they need to be seen.” (Teresa Younger, 2020)

    Once we understand that power gives us the ability to define reality, we are required to take an intersectional perspective in approaches to gender equality, where race/ethnicity are not a secondary issue.

    When Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, she was describing the way in which multiple oppressions are experienced. This notion extends to dis(ability), sexual orientation, social class, religious discourse and so on. Where there are gaps in our understanding of underrepresented group experiences at work, an intersectional approach is the vehicle that allows for the experiences of underrepresented groups to be heard and understood.

    The only way to understand and interconnect these aspects of identity is to listen to BAME women’s unique experiences and validating them.

    So what next?

    Go beyond the diversity data and explore nuances around BAME women’s unique experiences. You can encourage uncomfortable conversations when you:

    1. Acknowledge your privilege. We ALL have it.
    2. Become aware
    3. Educate yourself
    4. Reach out to diverse group members and hear their experiences
    5. Question existing power dynamics. E.g. in meetings who is consistently speaking? Whose voices are marginalised? Why?
    6. LISTEN – resist the urge to deny, invalidate, avoid the discussion – its human nature to avoid and defend. To TRULY create an inclusive culture, we need to make space for hear,  validate and explore these issues of racism and discrimination that BAME women and men face every day.
    7. Lean into the uncomfortable. The only way to address the challenges associated with racism, sexism, other forms of inequalities and micro-aggression in the workplace is to be open to experiencing discomfort in an honest and forthright

    Finally ask yourself: are you a Silencer or Amplifier?

    Use your privileged voice to raise others up; you will not lose privilege in this process!

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  • We have signed up to Race to Zero – here’s why

    3 March 2021
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    FLEGTWatch

    Race to Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from universities, businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

    We are delighted to report that inspired by the climate work by its Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), the University of Wolverhampton has signed up to the UNFCCC Race to Zero.

    In signing up to Race to Zero we join these ‘real economy’ activists and 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

    The global campaign is mobilising a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 454 cities, 23 regions, 1,397 businesses, 74 of the biggest investors, and 570 universities. This alliance covers nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% of global GDP.

    Led by High – Level Climate Action Champions Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, Race to Zero mobilises activists outside of national governments to join the Climate Ambition Alliance, which was launched at the the Secretary General of the UN’s Climate Action Summit 2019 by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera. All members of the alliance are committed to the same goal: achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

    The specific campaign objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This will send governments a resounding signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy.

    Based on the CIDT’s 30 years of environmental and development work across the Congo Basin in Africa, West Africa and South East Asia CIDT-UoW is applying to attend the forthcoming COP 26 in Glasgow, now being held between 1-12 November 2021.

    Sometimes known as the Climate Summit, the COP26 will bring global parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    The UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of COP26.

    We hope for the opportunity at COP26 to showcase some of the impact case studies of CIDT’s recent Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C): Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project, draw global attention to the work of climate defenders in the region, and highlight civil society visions for the future of forests and climate in the Congo Basin. The CV4C project has been working in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Republic of Congo since 2017. The €6.25m project has been funded by the the European Union, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK and the World Resources Institute.

    Working in partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the CIDT has led this four-year project which aimed to strengthen the contribution of CSOs, non-state actors (NSA), Indigenous Peoples (IP) and community organisations to improving forest governance, sustainable forest management and the contribution of forests to development in five Congo Basin countries.

    The project objective was to build capacity of strong effective NSAs to monitor forest governance and land use change, inform relevant national/global processes, and contribute to effective responses from law enforcement and policymaking agencies.

    University of Wolverhampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer recently opened a series of five CV4C webinars focused on reflection and lesson learning from the CV4C Project.

    Details of the impact case studies from the CV4C Project can be found here.

    —–

    Blog post by Prof Philip Dearden

    Image: Screen capture from FLEGTWatch, a radar-based satellite tool to monitor illegal logging and forest cover change, supported by CIDT through the CV4C project in partnership with Visioterra and Tropenbos.

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