As part of its project European Year for Development 2015 – Civil Society Alliance, CONCORD commissioned External evaluator Alecos Kelemenis to carry out an extensive final evaluation of the impact of the project. Here are briefly some of his conclusions from the executive summary:
The specific objective of the project was to use the European Year for Development as an opportunity to foster critical discussion on and engagement for global justice among the people of Europe, involving different stakeholders and reaching beyond the usual development sector and actors.
The largest proportion of the financial resources (75% of the overall budget) was allocated for the sub-granting mechanism. This reflected CONCORD’s priority, which was to develop a deep understanding of key concepts and messages, critical thinking and a mobilisation of European citizens, in particular young people, at local and national level.
The 17 sub-grants – selected from among the 100 or so applications, after a well-designed, transparent, participatory and well-coordinated process – were awarded mainly to organisations that were not members of CONCORD, while some of the sub-grantees were not even involved in the development cooperation field at all.
The sub-granted projects were implemented successfully despite the limited human and financial resources and limited time, including non-formal educational activities with schools, targeted public events in local communities, open conferences with local civil society and local authorities, workshops with activists and future multipliers, high-visibility events engaging young people, and debates with politicians – the sub-granted projects succeeded in reaching and mobilising a variety of target groups. These included not just the “usual suspects” – who have already endorsed the principles that the sub-grantees and the overall project serve to promote (global justice, equal opportunities, joint responsibility and interdependence) – but also (young) people who are not directly involved in development issues and who know little or nothing about the international development framework or EU policies. The communication aspect of the sub-granted projects was also remarkable.
Considering DEAR projects that are similar in terms of budget and type of activities, the project exceeded expectations, reaching out to approximately 17 million people through media, social media and communication campaigns. All the sub-granted projects moved from the traditional development cooperation concept of “us” and “them” to highlight the notions of global justice and, in parallel, to spread awareness of and information about the universality of the EU’s new development framework, and to encourage European citizens to take action, and change how they live, in their own countries.
The project enabled the 170 or so registered Civil Society Alliance members to contribute to the centrally organised activities. Some became actively engaged in the project, but there were also those who registered so that they could take part in the sub-granting mechanism. Some regarded the centrally-led activities as being too far removed from their national and local situation, or too development-oriented. The project’s format meant that its financial resources were channelled into the implementation and coordination of the sub-grants, rather than the development of tools which might have helped in mobilising more Alliance members.
The drafting of the policy recommendations was guided by a lengthy process of consultation among the project’s governance structures, with the result that the final output consisted of a mosaic of topics – such as sustainable consumption, women’s rights, migration, and the role of local authorities – reflects the diversity of the Alliance and the participatory adopted approach. The main driving principle behind the document was the importance of participation by citizens in the new development framework, in particular in the decision-making, implementation and monitoring processes. The recommendations were not intended to be used as an advocacy tool per se. They are rather the manifesto of a broad, diversified, inclusive and united civil society, led by development actors, working together towards common goals.
All in all, the project left a very important legacy, by strengthening the relationships between different European civil society actors, and between civil society and the EU institutions. There is a strong determination to continue jointly in the future – working with as many civil society actors as possible towards an existing European network, the SDG Watch (still its working title), whose aim is to monitor the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – building on the results of the Year.
Text written by Alecos Kelemenis, External evaluator
Please find the full final evaluation report here: