29 September 2015 – By Seamus Jeffreson, Director of CONCORD, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs

With the end of the TRIALOG project, I asked Rebecca Steel Jasinska, TRIALOG team, to remind us of the achievements of the project and the challenges that lie ahead for CONCORD and EU 13 platforms in ensuring we continue to present an inclusive space for all our members and united front in pursuing our common plans and objectives for a strong civil society role in pursuing sustainable development:

Why is TRIALOG ending?

TRIALOG is a project that was developed in the year 2000 to address the upcoming situation of 10 new European Union member states with new responsibilities in many areas, including development cooperation.The project aimed to support civil society organisations to work together more effectively, form national platforms where there were none, and integrate into the European system of development policy and practice.

Fifteen years on, all 13 of the countries that have joined the EU since 2004 have national platforms that are members of CONCORD, the European confederation. There are murmurs of discontent from organisations in countries that no longer consider themselves ‘new’ and even the term ‘EU13’ prompts backlash from those who consider themselves more properly identified as one of the EU28.
TRIALOG is a project that has served its purpose – achieved many of its objectives and established a community of partners who will continue to work together long after the project ends.

This is not to say that the kind of support that TRIALOG has provided over the years would not be welcomed if it could be continued in some of the partner countries, and indeed others around the EU. That is why we have worked with CONCORD, through the members, to ensure the new strategy safeguards as many areas as possible where TRIALOG work will be missed. Space for member exchange and peer learning is a large part of the new strategy, and will take forward many lessons learned through TRIALOG’s fifteen year experience (collected together in our systematisation process). We also hope to share this experience with partners in the Western Balkans in the future. Our tools have been written down and can be consulted here.

TRIALOG bids farewell

Two weeks before closing fifteen years of the project, the TRIALOG team, lead agency HORIZONT3000 and CONCORD brought together partners and friends to celebrate their joint success.

On Monday 14th September 2015, TRIALOG partners from the national platforms of the EU13 countries and other consortium members came together a final time within the framework of TRIALOG, to discuss the end of the project. The group exchanged information on current and future priorities as well as the measures that have been taken with CONCORD to ensure a smooth transition into the new strategic framework. In the 2016-22 CONCORD strategy, a new focus is on member engagement and part of the operationalisation discussions happening now are focusing on inclusion and ensuring smaller members are as engaged in CONCORD work as possible.

Partners were then joined by members of Austrian civil society for an exchange on the Sustainable Development Goals and how different organisations intend to work within the new framework in coming years. The discussion kicked off with an input of Jakob Mussil of the Austrian platform Global Responsibility and member of the European Taskforce of the Beyond2015 campaign. Most platforms have started to think about how to engage with the goals’ implementation and many are focusing on advocacy towards their government and capacity building among their members on the goals and how to work with them.

The evening reception paid tribute to TRIALOG’s achievements, history and staff, past and present with speeches of one of the founders, Robert Zeiner via video message, CONCORD president Johannes Trimmel, longterm advisory group member Grzegorz Gruca of Polish Humanitarian Action and HORIZONT3000 director Erwin Eder. In a TRIALOG quiz Ulrike Bey and I checked how much people in fact knew about TRIALOG. The mood was a little sad that an era comes to an end but at the same time very proud of what we accomplished.

Thanks from the TRIALOG team must go to all those who have supported and actively participated in TRIALOG’s work over the past fifteen years. We look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

Rebecca Steel Jasinska, TRIALOG team