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Staff members of the ICA and the European Commission after the closing ceremony of the Partnership Forum 2018


The European Commission (E.C.) organized its second ‘Partnership Forum’ on Strengthening and Deepening (our) Partnerships Worldwide with Civil Society (CSO) and Local Authorities (LA) in Brussels, Belgium on June 25 and 26, 2018. The first Forum was organized during the summer of 2017 at Flagey, Brussels (Belgium), almost a year after a score of development actors (LAs, CSOs) including the ICA, signed the Framework Partnership Agreements with the European Union through its Commission to implement global, regional and national development programs. A reason for the interest of the E.C. in deepening its bonds with civil society, local authorities is the growing recognition for and the implementation of a ‘multi-stakeholder and inclusive approach’ in achieving the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The  European Union (and in it, the Directorate General for Development Cooperation or ‘DG Devco’) is the world’s biggest donor organization affecting development programs globally with help and assistance from community led organizations, CSOs and LAs.


The message of these Partnership Forums is not only to foster a deeper relationship of the EU with community led organizations, but also promote partnerships and collaboration among the FPA signatories. At the 1st Forum in 2017, the ICA and Fairtrade International  jointly organize a parallel session on community led and owned enterprise models where the ICA-AP presented the case of student owned campus co-operatives, and the Fairtrade International the role of the organization and the modalities involved, in generating fair returns to farmers in Africa (brought out by Ms. Wangeci Gitata, Strategic Partnership Lead of Fairtrade Africa). 


This year the E.C. stressed on the need for transformation and fundamental change to the “Business as Usual” model of development and urged participants to promote the principles contained in the Agenda 2030 where Co-operatives are recognized as part of the movement to undo business as usual in paragraphs 41 and 67. The 2018 Forum was split in two days and divided into 5 sessions besides the opening and closing. The objective of the Forum was to stimulate an open dialogue with CSOs and associations of LAs, and the participants were expected to network, increase synergies, showcase their work and share information and good practices. The key sessions were  on Enabling environment for CSOs and LAs to implement programs on SDGs; the element of resilience in development; the New Urban agenda; Climate Action; and Peace Security and Development. It is noteworthy to mention that renewable energy source co-operatives (RES), co-operatives’ role in attaining and maintaining peace and ICA’s new thematic committee on international development, found space in the discussions during the sessions. E.C. Commissioner Neven Mimica congratulated the Forum on its successful completion and signed two more FPAs, one with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Mr. Bruno Roelants, DG ICA and Mr. Marc Nöel, International Development Director led the ICA’s participation at the Forum. For details on the Forum and official EC report, please write to