“2014 – a year of changes and challenges” CONCORD end of year message 2014

18 December 2014

By Johannes Trimmel, President of CONCORD

johannes trimmel

Dear Members and Partners,

2014 has been very much the teaser year before the milestone year.

We’ve been working, campaigning and educating for years about 2015, that once far away year when aid commitments were supposed to be met, the Millennium Development Goals were due to end and we hoped we’d have a better, fairer world by the time.

Yet 2014 was marked by more humanitarian and development challenges, not less. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, to conflicts on the very borders of the European Union, it’s clear that our common cause to fight inequalities and poverty is far from over.

The Europe We Want

It’s also been a year of political changes in Europe with the European elections and a new EU Commission taking office.

Already I’m pleased to see that we’ve managed to establish a formal relationship with new EU Development Commissioner Neven Mimica and with incoming members of the European Parliament, boosted by our EuropeWeWant advocacy campaign around the European elections.

Just a month ago CONCORD organized a special #DevWorkshop, an induction work shop for the new MEPs at the EU Parliament where our members took the floor to communicate to new decision makers our priorities, views and values.

As usual we’ve kept our focus on development finance and policy coherence for development, holding various events, trainings and publishing important positions and outreach documents.

Our annual AidWatch report notes the trend that the official definition of aid could change as governments continue to inflate their aid figures whilst missing aid targets. The report was launched at a successful event in Paris, which included meetings on financing for development.

CONCORD was also active in promoting a strong development budget as negotiations on the EU budget for 2014/15 were set to close. We also published a guide to EU funding instruments.

New realities such as the conflict in Ukraine pushed us to tackle new issues, and I’m pleased that our EPAN Working Group that works on neighbourhood and enlargement issues has seen a new lease of life, holding a webinar and publishing a reaction on Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis.

Global cooperation

Members have also took a leading role in representing CONCORD at several international events, such as the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly the High Level meeting on Effective Development cooperation in Mexico and the post-2015 negotiations in New York.

Our cooperation with other international networks and civil society organizations was also strengthened at International Civil Society Week in Johannesburg.

As the MDGs come to a close, our work with the Beyond 2015 campaign has also proved a vital resource in engaging in the post-2015 debate.

Organisational development

We’ve also been doing a lot of work to build our new strategy for 2016-2022 to have it ready for next year’s General Assembly on 10-11 June 2015 in Brussels. So far, members have taken part in several workshops and online surveys to build the strategy together. Our main November Strategy event this year was dedicated to this, and we encourage members to continue to be involved.

What’s clear is that we are in a period of change across the European development NGO sector, especially at European level regarding changes to funding which pose a challenge to represent the interests of our wide and diverse membership.

Yet I’m pleased that despite these challenges, we remain an attractive confederation to be a part of, with membership growing in 2014 with the Croatian national platform and network SOS Children’s Villages joining the CONCORD family.

Our communications work has also supported a wide range of activities from social media to traditional press outreach and continues to develop with the times with more interactive online debates via webinars than ever before in 2014.

And let’s not forget that after more than 10 years our Brussels office is now even closer to European civil society, moving to the new Mundo-J buildingalongside several members and many other NGOs, especially from the youth sector.

Of course, a full detailed roundup of all our activities in 2014 will be published in our annual report next year. For now, I think we can be proud of collective work and action throughout a year of challenges and changes.

And 2015 will be as busy as ever with events such as Beijing +20, the Financing for Development conference in Addis, the UNGA on Post 2015 summit and of course with the European Year for Development 2015where CONCORD will play an important role as leader of the Civil Society Alliance, I encourage all of our members and partners to get involved with the year, a real opportunity to engage people in a conversation about global development issues, both within Europe and elsewhere.