Long-term objectives in contexts of constant change, how do we plan?

2019 is the year where RACI´s quinquennial strategy planning ends and starts to transition to new challenges and objectives. In this context, RACI decided to prioritize among its activities the building of this new strategic map, incorporating not only new actors but also a new methodology.

To understand the changes and the environments where we operate, we need to create diverse and complementary links where different disciplines, trajectories and areas of work are found and can work together to build probable futures. The result of these encounters facilitates the task of stablishing strategic lines of action, moderating the risk and generating more predictability.

For that motive, RACI decided to apply the methodology Planning of Transformative Scenarios created by de Dutch organization Perspective and taught by CIVICUS in a capacitation for representatives of the CSO of twenty countries.

The use of this theoretical framework means the identification of absolutely all the direct and indirect stakeholders with which the organization is related and all the actors that may not be related with organization but with who it would be constructive to start to interact. Once identified the stakeholders map, they are divided into groups so that, through different exercises where personal and group perspectives are inquired, trends are obtained as results.

The exercises seek to understand the main doubts and the axes of uncertainty create a matrix of possible future scenarios and, from them, it can be elaborated different hypotheses that allow, when necessary, to reorder the strategic planning in an organized manner reducing the uncertainty.

In the case of the Network, the planning process will take 11 months and will result in a document co-created with participation from specialists from all sectors, which will guide the actions of the organization until 2025.


International Civil Society Week is coming

Within the International Civil Society Week that will be developed in Serbia from April 6th to 12th, RACI hosted a parallel event that not only reproduced the schedule that will be worked in the official event, but also produced the inputs  that are going to be taken into account for the delegations from the different countries.

With the objective of producing tools and process, the network reunited representatives from different sectors with the purpose of creating a space for debate and for the proposal of potential solutions in four areas that affect CSO beyond the topics worked: Sustainability, Transparency, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Enabling Environment.

The event started with a panel of experts that presented a brief analysis of the situation on each of the topics. It was integrated by Karina Kalpschtrej, Institutional Strengthen Director of Poder Ciudadano; Carlos March, Strategic Communication Director of AVINA Foundation; Mariano de Donatis, Director of Health Without Harm International and Tamar Hahn, Director of the Center of Information of United Nations (CINU).

As part of this initiative, members of RACI will travel to the official event hosted in Serbia where it will be shared the materials, the processes and the conclusions worked in Buenos Aires, thanks to the support of CIVICUS and the Embassy of Canada.

International Civil Society Week is an international event designed so that civil society creates ties, debates and solutions jointly.  Employing a common approach, organizations have united their resources to summon an international group of multiple leaders of civil society with the objective of sharing ideas, impulse a positive social change, exchange tools that improve citizen action and celebrate the citizen power. Every ICSW explore a specific topic in an exhaustive way.


Digitalization of Finances: problem or solution for sustainable development?

We are facing the age of “digitalization”, a process in constant expansion that includes and modifies more and more areas and fields – being the most prominent and well-known the transformation of financial and capital markets. The impact of digitalization in these markets, without a doubt, is easy to detect. For example, it is proven that digital financing could increase the GDP of emerging economies by USD$3.7 billion by 2025.

However, when we speak of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Paris Agreement over climate change, it becomes more difficult to find answers to the many questions that arise around how to take advantage of this technological disruption in order to guarantee the proper financing of these objectives.

To tackle this issue, it was created the Task Force on Digital Financing, which not only seeks for the best way to make use of “digitalization” – specially in topics related to “digital finance” or Finetech – in order to finance the above mentioned objectives, but also seeks to catalyze the opportunities that arise around this and mitigate any type of risk associated with it.

FINETECH: digital potentials with real impacts

Finetech could help to ensure that funding decisions take into account more environmental and social externalities: from climate risk to community impacts and labor standards. A clear example is how crowdsourcing is used to finance, through the use of mobile payment systems, the distribution of solar technology, which becomes more accessible to the poorest communities.

However, the digitalization of finances can have serious disadvantages. Among them, it stresses the automatization of funding decisions, risking the systematic exclusion of the poorest borrowers or insurers, the most at risk or simply the unusual ones.

Like any new tool, it is necessary to think of all the externalities and consequences both positive and negative that can apply. Digitalization could increase the transparency of financial decisions, but it could also open new opportunities for illicit financial flows. Currently, it requires a process of analysis in order to promote positive impacts and reduce negative impacts.

How to advance towards financial digitalization with positive impacts?

To encourage the positive aspects and mitigate the disadvantages of digital financing, there will be needed policies, regulations and standards, together with the technology and innovation of the market. However, nowadays, the first generation of rules that govern digital finance relate principally to financial stability and consumer protection. Still, there is much to be done, especially in the area that relates finetech with sustainable development.

To finance the sustainable development: to understand and to improve finetech, an exercise for Digital Task Force on Financing

The Secretary General of the United Nations understands perfectly the importance of securing the funding for the 2030 Agenda. To do this, a strategy was formally launched to finance the 2030 Agenda in the 2018 General Assembly of the United Nations. The central pillar of the strategy is digital financing, followed by related areas of international finance and economic policy and support to member states in order to advance national plans to fund sustainable development. The SDG’s Task Force on Digital Financing is the vehicle that has been chosen to advance the understanding of this technology and take it into practice.

This group will work to address three basic questions over 18 months:

  1. What opportunity does the financial digitalization of different aspects of the 2030 Agenda offer?
  2. What barriers exist and how can we take advantage of the opportunities and possible inconveniences of digitalization? In what way and what means exist to overcome and mitigate them?
  3. Who should do what in the public and private sectors, where is action is needed, at both the local and international level (what should be the key roles for the UN itself)?

Beyond thinking, planning, and suggesting what can be done about SDG funding, the Task Force will search for a multitude of actors and diverse innovations that will keep the agenda going long after they have completed their own work.

Finetech will open many new ways to catalyze funding for the 2030 Agenda, and it will create challenges that will be needed to be addressed through collective action,n in order to achieve political objectives. The working group provides a unique opportunity to understand and shape these results as they arise before they are consolidated into new standards.

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RACI traveled to Japan as International Coordinator of the Local2Global group

During the process of the G20, hosted in Japan, RACI had the pleasure of being invited by the Civil Affinity Group 20 to lead, once again, the workgroup Local2Global.

To carry out her participation, Juliana Catania, RACI´s deputy director, traveled to Japan where she exercised the international coordination of the group and also focused in the conversations that were takin place in the online forum available for all the organization, so the ones that wanted to participate could do it without any geographical barriers

The main objective of this groupwork is: generate more knowledge and participation of the CSO of all over the world in the mechanism of participation and defense of the G20; democratize the access to this type of key spaces in the public policies and strengthen the CSO of the world in order to achieve a continuous and meaningful participation in all the future meeting of G20.

Among the main topics discussed we find:

  • Establishing the right to free expression and association of citizens and CSO in national and world politics.
  • The importance of enabling and defending a free space for the civic participation and action.
  • State of the proper environment for the participation of the CSO in the world.
  • Participation of the local and regional CSO on global topics.
  • Relevance of the CSO to achieve the SDG.

Some of RACI´s members also participated of the event, such as “Fundación Huesped”, represented by Kurt Frieder, who officiated as International Coordinator of the Health group, and “Fundación SES”, represented by Marcela Browne, who officiated as International Coordinator of the Education group.

With the objective of stablishing the foundations of what will be de C20 summit on April 21, 22 and 23, every participant of the meeting in Japan had the possibility to witness the “Face to Face” meeting, where it were discussed some key topics, like the preparation of the policy papers, and where participants also had the possibility to stablish conversations with G20 representatives about anticorruption, development, digital economy, environment and energy, work, finance, health, commerce and infrastructure.

The C20 Summit will be performed in Tokyo, Japan. For more information visit:


“Planning of Transformative Scenarios” AGNA capacitation in South Africa

As a member of AGNA, RACI was invited to participate of the activity “Planning of Transformative Scenarios”, which took place in South Africa between February 24th and March 3rd. AGNA is the Affinity Group of National Associations which take place within the framework of CIVICUS, the global alliance of organization and activist whose main objective is strengthen the networks of the world civil society.

Through the work days, RACI was able to participate in an activity of planning that implied thinking about the future of the organizations in a strategic and participative way. The main objective of this activity was the collective work, which means to evaluate and project the future in a joint way. That is why this innovative strategy of planning can be used for the projection of a diversity of scenarios, from the future of the society in general, to the future of an organization in particular.

A matter of key importance for our network is that RACI was the network chosen as model to apply this methodology and analyze the future projection during the whole training week. This means that African, Asian and Middle East leaders worked over a strategic planning for RACI. This is an element of crucial importance for the network, because it gave us the opinion of experts from other parts of the world about the process applied and suggestions that we can incorporate. The final results obtained at the end of this process will become inputs that will be analyzed for RACI´s Strategy Planning for 2025.

From RACI, we believe that the future is built collectively. That is why everything learnt in South Africa gave us the framework of the planning process that is initiating the network. In that sense, it should be noted that part of the methodology learnt was used during the Local and International Assessor Council and will be applied to future meetings with other actors.


Closing of Civil Space: trends, drivers, and what donors can do about it

In the summary of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law of May 2018, the topic “Effective donor Responses to the challenge of the closure of civic spaces” was discussed. It can be observed that of the legal initiatives, proposed or promulgated, which restrict the freedoms of association or meeting, 47% restrict the training, registration, or functioning of OSC; 28% restrict OCS’s ability to receive international funding; and another 25% restricts peaceful assembly.

Within the new trends that have been observed, we can find:

  • Digital Restrictions: Indonesia, Pakistan, and Tanzania, for example, have adopted cybercrime laws and other regulations that allow the monitor of electronic communications without restrictions.
  • Restrictions related to transparency: (1) burdensome requirements to inform and disclose private information (for example in Bulgaria, Panama, and Uganda); (2) obligatory disclosure of private assets of OSC directors and/or officials (for example, Ukraine and India); (3) limiting public promotion by categorizing OSC as lobbyists or political activists (for example, in the UK and Ireland); (4) disclosure of private and international funders (for example, in Hungary and Mexico); y (5) disproportionate penalties related to non-compliance with the requirements of information and disclosure (for example, in Egypt and Russia).
  • Denying OSC access to multilateral platforms: The OSC and defenders of human rights are subject to increasing threats, intimidation, and reprisal when they try to speak in multilateral platforms.
  • Discrediting the voice of OSC in multilateral platforms: NGO’s organized by the government participate in multilateral platforms like the UN Human Rights Council. They defend countries’ policies, try to delegitimize the voices of genuine civil society, and use up time, space, and other limited resources.
  • Prevent freedom of movement: This consists of preventing civil society representatives from traveling abroad.
  • Narrowing the space and capacity for International NGOs: For example, through restrictions on spending, the NGO’s mission, or registration.
  • Stigmatizing donors: For example, the Hungarian government has been carrying out a campaign aimed at the Open Society Foundation and the Central European University, as well as its founder, George Soros.

The origins of civil space repression date back to the start of the current millennium. Throughout the 1990’s, the OSC enjoyed a largely positive reputation in the international community. The OSC made important contributions to health, education, culture, economic development, and a series of other beneficial objectives for the public. As a reflection of this, in September of 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration. There, it was emphasized the importance of human rights and the value of “non-governmental organizations and civil society in general”.

The specific driving force that restricts the space or capacity for civil society varies from one country to another, in accordance with the government and the political leaders and how they act with a variety of motivations. At the same time, one can identify various driving forces that have resulted in global repression against civil society:

  • The dramatic growth and the demonstrated power of civil society and civil society organizations during the 1990’s;
  • The growing priority given to anti-terrorism and national security by all the governments in the world;
  • A change in the relations of global power, that have reduced the influence of Western governments and traditional multilateral institutions and have given rise to challenges for the liberal democratic model;
  • The growing collusion between political elites and economics in order to protect their interests without any oversight or criticism,
  • The increase of ideological and religious extremism that result in increasingly hostile environments for the defenders of vulnerable groups, including those that represent women, LGBTQIA, minorities, and others.

Over the past few years, various countries have faced an increase in intolerant political populism. These populist movements can be seen as a signal for a bigger reduction of civic space, even in established democracies. This can encourage authoritarian governments to further restrict civil society.

As we are likely to be at the cusp of a new wave of restrictions on civil society, the commitment of donor governments, as credible and principles-based voices on issues of civic space, is more important than ever.

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