From the 30th October to the 8th November 2019 members gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa from all over the world for the CIVICUS Annual General meeting. This, as always, is an opportunity to come together and set the agenda and priorities of CIVICUS Alliance. It included approval of the Annual Report and financial statements, reflecting on key outcomes of the annual constituency survey, a look at the first year of CIVICUS Solidarity Fund, a new membership Code of Conduct, and analysis of a mid-point review of CIVICUS’ Strategic Plan 2017-2022.
During this year’s Board Meeting, we explored a range of topics and questions that will shape CIVICUS Alliance’s activities in the months -- and years -- to come. These included:
- Political polarisation and what this means for inequality and exclusion
- People power movements including mass protests. CIVICUS Alliance is eager to respond and connect!
- Our impressive and rapid membership growth. We have a keen eye out for what this means for the CIVICUS Alliance’s future activities.
- A benchmarking review of where we stand to date, and where we need to keep moving, especially in terms of the Alliance’s Southern presence, identity, and focus.
Code of Conduct
This year, CIVICUS Alliance touched base with you about a new, more detailed Membership Code of Conduct, so we can best support and look after each other in ever-growing solidarity. Stay tuned for updates!
Annual Constituency Survey
On the 31st of October, we held a Zoom meeting to follow up with you from our Annual Constituency Survey -- hearing from you personally on your experiences over the last year, your hopes and ideas for the future, and how we can continue to support and connect with you in the year to come.
This discussion centred around a major overarching question, “How can we bolster member engagement?” In responding, our members reported that:
- Much of CIVICUS Alliance’s activity is already making very positive headway, especially in terms of capacity building support and opportunities
- An area for ongoing growth in CIVICUS Alliance is in terms of member-to-member engagement and networking, especially along the lines of regional or thematic contexts where our members can share knowledge and experience more closely with each other
Mid-point strategic priority review
In 2016, CIVICUS developed its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. This was to set the strategic direction for the Secretariat and Alliance by articulating who we are, what we strive to achieve, how we work and how we define our success. As November 2019 marked the mid-point of this plan, it was only right to take a moment to analyse our achievements and shortcomings so far.
On 6 November, the CIVICUS Secretariat along with Board members and invited voting members gathered at the University of Johannesburg for our Strategy and Action Workshop.
The morning session was dedicated to a review of Goals 1 through 4 and recommendations for improvement. Some of the big questions asked included: How should we measure and communicate the effectiveness of civil society? What kind of data do we need to collect from our members and how can we best put that data to use?
The afternoon session was organised around reimagining the CIVICUS of the future. The following trends informed the discussion:
- Civil society is changing. Mobile, adaptive and progressive people power movements are taking centre stage.
- Digital security: There is no longer a sharp distinction between offline and online organising. All in-person activism now has an online component and civil society must defend itself accordingly.
- Civil society is under attack but the threats have changed. Far-right authoritarian movements are challenging the notion that the defence of human rights is an enshrined priority.
Participants in the Strategy and Action Workshop submitted overwhelmingly positive feedback about their experience of the workshop (Mohammad Hasan, Jean-Gilles Gbewouenondo Houmenou). It was an engaging day and provided many opportunities for the Secretariat, the Board and for voting members to meet and exchange ideas. The final review report will be published in early January 2020.
CIVICUS Solidarity Fund (CSF)
On Monday 4 November, the Membership Advisory Group (MAG) met at the CIVICUS head office in Johannesburg to review the submissions for the CIVICUS Solidarity Fund. The MAG received 265 applications which they began reviewing in October. The group’s tireless efforts have resulted in the selection of 14 grantees, whose projects will be announced to the membership soon!
On Tuesday 5 November, the MAG hosted four separate webinars on the CSF in three different languages! Our dynamic hosts Maggie Musonda, Nandini Tanya Lallmon and Victoria Wisniewski Otero responded to questions from CIVICUS members and shared some exciting video content from our previous CSF grantees. Links to the webinar are here (English), (French), (Spanish).
The MAG also took the opportunity of being all together in one room to discuss some significant changes to the fund for the future. The MAG is working with the CIVICUS Secretariat to implement the improvements and we look forward to sharing these updates with you soon. The next application window for the CIVICUS Solidarity Fund will open in February 2020.