Implementation Plan: Canada’s Civil Society Partnerships Policy – High level narrative update on progress 2022
The Government of Canada works with a broad range of partners, domestically and internationally, to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of Canada’s international assistance. It recognizes the essential role of civil society organizations (CSOs) as development actors in their own right, and continues to advocate for safe and supportive environments in which civil society can thrive around the world. This engagement with CSOs is affirmed in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). It is restated in Canada’s Policy for Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance – A Feminist Approach (“the CSO Policy”) and the CSO Policy Implementation Plan, co-developed with the CSO Policy Advisory Group (CPAG), which is composed of senior-level Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and CSO representatives.
This progress update captures key accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities in advancing the CSO Policy Implementation Plan, since its approval in 2019 to Spring 2022. The collaboration between CSO and GAC CPAG members, in support of the CSO Policy Implementation Plan, demonstrates the value of governmental-civil society collaboration in the development and implementation of policies and programs on international development issues. The many actions accomplished to advance the Implementation Plan reinforce the overarching purpose of the CSO Policy, that is to encourage effective cooperation of GAC with CSOs to maximize the impact and results of Canada’s international assistance and foster a strong and vibrant civil society sector.
GAC and CSO collaboration has resulted in achievements across diverse policy and programming areas. GAC and CSOs advanced gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by supporting women’s rights organizations and movements, as well as by strengthening capacity for using gender transformative approaches in programming. Through regular dialogue, GAC and CSOs made progress in the areas of streamlining processes, exploring innovative solutions, and improving transparency, accountability and results of international assistance.
Despite several important achievements, GAC and CSOs faced challenges, some of which were linked to the COVID‑19 pandemic, which impacted CSOs implementation of projects but also spurred innovation and new ways of working – for CSOs and GAC. Opportunities for policy dialogue were also impacted by the pandemic. Shifting to virtual interactions required adaptation, and equally presented an opportunity to engage a greater diversity of stakeholders and partners around the world.
For more information on the progress of the CSO Policy objectives, please read the full report here (PDF version).
Going forth, Canada will share lessons learned from the CSO Policy to support implementation of the Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance, adopted on July 6, 2021 by Canada and other members from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC).
On this page
- Objective 1: Empower women and girls, promote gender equality, and reach the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized as the most effective means to eradicate poverty
- Objective 2: Facilitate a safe and enabling environment for civil society
- Objective 3: Protect Human Life and Dignity
- Objective 4: Foster CSO leadership in innovation
- Objective 5: Integrate the role of CSOs as independent actors into international assistance programming
- Objective 6: Establish more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms
- Objective 7: Foster multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance
- Objective 8: Engaging Canadians as global citizens in international assistance
- Objective 9: Promote sustainability, transparency, accountability, and results
Objective 1: Empower women and girls, promote gender equality, and reach the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized as the most effective means to eradicate poverty
Recognizing that women and girls are diverse and powerful agents of change, Canada’s partnerships aim to support and build on their strength and innovative contributions to reduce poverty for all. Canada will work with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including local women’s organizations and other partners, to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and address the systemic discrimination that prevents women and girls from realizing their human rights and reaching their full potential, recognizing that inequalities exist along intersectional lines.
To reduce poverty and ensure sustainable and transformative change, all members of society must be empowered to reach their full potential and exercise their human rights. Greater gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls can deliver strong economic growth, reduce chronic hunger, help cut down extreme poverty, lead to longer-lasting peace, benefit entire families and help empower those who face discrimination. Men and boys must also be engaged in the fight for greater gender equality, take opportunities to advocate and lead by example by respecting the rights and interests of women and girls. Civil society provides a vehicle for the voices of the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized–including children and youth, seniors, persons with disabilities, refugees, internally displaced people, Indigenous peoples, religious groups, ethnic communities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and intersex (2SLGBTQI+) people–to be heard by their governments and for individuals to hold their leaders to account.
Action area 1.1
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSOs and other partners to empower citizens to participate in and assume ownership of their civil, political, social and economic development and protect and promote their human rights
Global Affairs Canada will:
- With CSOs, conduct a scan of existing materials and training capacities among Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) on gender-based, feminist, intersectional and human-rights-based analysis to identify how materials could be shared to mutually support ongoing program design and implementation efforts
- Consult and engage with CSO partners on the draft Feminist Approach policy guidance
- Explore opportunities to pilot joint Global Affairs Canada (GAC) – CSO training (both in Ottawa and at missions in the field)
- Support CSOs to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to prevent and address sexual misconduct in international assistance
Action area 1.2
Global Affairs Canada will ensure that closing gender gaps and overcoming barriers for women and girls as a means to eradicate poverty and achieve Canada’s feminist international assistance goals are key considerations in the selection of the Department’s partners and program investments and at all stages of the programming process
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Work with CSO partners to build mutual capacity to further consult and engage a broad range and diversity of women and girls throughout the project life cycle, including in humanitarian and urgent response programming contexts, for example, through knowledge sharing webinars and sharing of tools and training materials
- Revise guidelines for CSOs embedded in GAC’s programming process tools to reflect a feminist approach, and strengthen the integration of gender equality, including to measure gender equality outcomes and collect sex and age disaggregated data
- Revise the gender equality assessment form and process to reflect the Policy’s feminist approach
Action area 1.3
CSO partners will ensure that:
- Women and girls are consulted and engaged at all stages of program design, implementation and evaluation;
- Decisions on project focus respond to their specific inputs; and
- Women are actively involved and participate in implementation and decision-making
- Undertake mapping of what CSOs are doing to integrate consultation and engagement of women throughout the project life cycle in collaboration with the Women’s Rights Policy Group, le Comité québécois femmes et développement and/or CCIC
- Ensure that decisions on project focus respond to the specific inputs provided by the women consulted
- Use these findings as the basis for strengthening consultation and engagement practices among all GAC civil society partners, enhancing the Action Area guidelines produced for civil society, and providing training to help realize this milestone
Action area 1.4
Global Affairs Canada will collaborate with partners to pilot, design, and champion new and innovative ways of working with women’s organizations and movements to advance women’s rights
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Increase CSO engagement with and build support for women’s organizations and movements across sectors in the Global South
- Where appropriate, embed in project planning documents expectations or requirements to work with women’s organizations and movements as partners in the design and implementation of initiatives in all sectors
- Build onpartnerships established with women’s organizations working through the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program
- Build and streamline the Feminist Learning Series in collaboration with the Women’s Rights Policy Group in order to build strategic knowledge on implementing a feminist approach to international assistance, including on innovative ways of working with women’s organizations and movements to advance women’s rights and ensure it links up with government and CSO learning and development
- Continue to socialize the report and recommendations from the GAC, Match International and Nobel Women’s Initiative Workshop in January entitled, Shifting the Power: Opportunities for Innovative Partnerships with Women’s Movements, with CSO partners, namely the Women’s Rights Policy Group
- Draft an insight paper on the nexus of gender and innovation
- Build evidence and learning, and track innovations from implementing programming engaging with women’s organizations and movements
Action area 1.5
Global Affairs Canada will support women’s organizations and movements of various sizes, particularly in activities that contribute to raising the leadership, visibility, influence, capacity and access of women and girls in the context of international assistance
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Implement the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program and build a body of evidence and learning on the critical outcomes of the program
- Advocate for the role, participation and leadership of women’s organizations and movements in policy dialogue at all levels
- Continue to develop and fund different evidence-based programs that further support the aims and goals of diverse women’s organizations around the world
Action area 1.6
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSOs to address the specific challenges women and girls face, including support for the meaningful participation of women, women’s organizations and networks in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, post-conflict state building and preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence, as described in Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (C-NAP)
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Support CSOs, including women’s organizations that work to increase participation of women in peace negotiations and conflict-prevention efforts through advocacy, policy and programming
- Table in Parliament annual progress reports on the implementation of C-NAP 2017-2022 every September, highlighting work with CSO partners, including women’s organizations and movements
- Organize bi-annual meetings of the Advisory Group for C-NAP and co-chair these with the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada. Participants also include indigenous organizations
- Co-host with Uruguay in 2020 the global Women, Peace and Security Focal Point Network to exchange lessons/best practices, discuss challenges and opportunities to advance women, peace and security
- Launch the G7 Women, Peace and Security Partnerships Initiative that was announced as part of Canada’s G7 Presidency, confirm country partnerships, and develop a workplan for Canada’s partnership with Côte d’Ivoire, which will include consultations with local civil society, in particular women’s organizations
The reporting period, year 3 of implementing Canada’s landmark Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), represents one of the most active periods in recent years of GAC engagement with CSOs to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity. Throughout this period, GAC has worked extensively with its civil society partners to advance Canada’s feminist international assistance priorities, which has resulted in significant achievements.
Canada contributed $300 million to establish the Equality Fund, a first-of-its kind organization with an innovative financial and grant-making model that aims to provide core, flexible, and predictable funding in support of women’s rights organizations (WROs) and sustainable feminist movements globally. In February 2019, Canada also announced its new $30 million 2SLGBTQI+ international assistance program, including the launch of the participatory Act Together for Inclusion Fund (ACTIF), co-managed by Equitas and the Dignity Network. GAC also collaborated closely with CSO partners to implement the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program (WVL) and funded a Care Canada - coordinated Community of Practice for WVL implementing partners. This innovative and ground-breaking program provides WROs and movements, as well as LBTQI+ groups in developing countries, with flexible funding and capacity-building support to advance gender equality. GAC also worked with the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) to develop gender equality training modules for CSO members. Additionally, the GAC-funded Inspiring Action for Global Citizenship Initiative implemented by the Inter-Council Network helped deliver workshops, toolkits and webinars to many Canadian CSOs on key priorities for women's rights. For example, the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération international (AQOCI) via the Comité québécois femmes et développement (CQFD) produced a technical data sheet to demonstrate how climate change issues are linked to those of women's rights.
From the civil society perspective, a report produced by the Women’s Rights Policy Group (WRPG) and Cooperation Canada entitled An Analysis of CSO Experiences with WVL program, contained some key recommendations about the need to establish widely accessible, open, transparent and inclusive application processes for CSOs, and about the importance of ensuring that contracting arrangements reflect the feminist approaches and intent of GAC programming. A study produced by NextGen with Sheila Rao, in collaboration with Cooperation Canada, the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID), the CQFD and WRPG, also provided data on what organizations are doing to consult with women and girls. The results from the study on the impacts of the FIAP on CSO policy and practice revealed, among other highlights that “consultations with women’s organizations were noted by 76% of respondents when developing projects.”
Leading up to the 2021 Generation Equality Forum (GEF), GAC, together with Women and Gender Equality Canada, regularly engaged with a wide range of CSOs, including the WRPG and the Canadian Beijing +25 Network, to inform its approach and commitments to the GEF, which culminated in significant financial ($180M) and policy commitments by the Government of Canada. For example, Canada committed to working with WROs, women’s funds, and other governments to design a new and unprecedented Global Alliance for Sustainable Feminist Movements, which will foster ongoing political and financial support, and the exchange of best practices, for financing feminist movements and organizations.
To strengthen Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, GAC also held a productive dialogue with a wide range of domestic and international civil society partners. In total, more than 400 civil society, academic and Indigenous partners provided views and recommendations on Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy through virtual roundtables, public webinars and written contributions.
Women, Peace and Security
GAC continued to support local and regional women's organizations in a number of countries through multi-donor funds. GAC also co-chaired several meetings with CSOs in Canada through the Canadian National Action Plan Advisory Group. In 2020-21, Canada co-chaired with Uruguay, the Women Peace and Security (WPS) Focal Points Network. This included, Canada funding the Women Peace and Security Network-Canada to convene a special meeting of Canadian and international WPS CSOs in August 2020.
WPSN has produced reports that document the progress of Canada’s Women Peace and Security Action Plan, and these include an analysis against results.
The pandemic hindered GAC’s efforts to achieve Objective 1, significantly affecting some CSOs’ ability to engage in policy dialogue and revealed that continued support to build their capacity, including on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, was necessary.
In implementing its gender equality programming, GAC has learned implementing feminist project management and feminist monitoring, evaluation and learning requires more time, resources and flexibility than traditional project management approaches. The added requirements for implementing these new approaches are further compounded by the need to balance GAC’s due diligence and financial risk management protocols and processes with channeling funds to smaller WROs or organizations that have previously never worked with the Department. Despite these challenges, there is support for these new approaches at all levels.
By continuing to champion and promote innovative ways of working with civil society and WROs, including through programs such as WVL, GAC and CSO partners have created valuable opportunities to share lessons, data and good practices. These lessons will help inform future programming together.
Continued collaboration with CSOs and networks, such as Cooperation Canada and the Women’s Rights Policy Group (WRPG), will be key to advancing Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy. There is an opportunity to strengthen our policy and programming processes through engaging experts from the Global South and benefiting from their expertise relevant to the work of women’s organizations in the context of international assistance.
Canada is committed to supporting and engaging with feminist and equality-seeking movements, especially those focussed on underrepresented groups, including Indigenous women, women with disabilities, members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and newcomer, racialized, and migrant women. Accurately integrating this broader inclusivity and diversity will help us improve our tools and approaches.
Disseminating learnings from GAC’s flagship programs such as WVL, the Equality Fund, Actif and others through the wider gender equality community of practice and CSOs, as well as within GAC, will help us further our collaboration with CSOs and improve our programming overall. In 2021–22, five years into FIAP implementation and two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the time is ripe to take stock of our joint efforts to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity. There is an opportunity for CSOs, networks and governments to break down silos by working together, and thereby increase their learning on challenges faced as well as best practices.
Objective 2: Facilitate a safe and enabling environment for civil society
In Canada and other countries, an empowered civil society is a crucial component for championing positive transformative change, including gender equality, inclusion, respect for diversity and human rights, peace and security, and development. The sustainability of international assistance investments, and consequently effective contribution to poverty reduction, depends on the ability of populations to hold governments to account over the long term. For civil society to thrive, it must operate in a safe and enabling environment that promotes inclusive, transparent and accountable institutions, respects human rights and where the rule of law protects and promotes the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Increasingly, it is important that this enabling environment extends from physical to online spaces as well, which are often the locus of public debate and mobilization. Many actors, including governments, have a role to play in creating an enabling environment for civil society to operate effectively and independently. This includes understanding and mitigating the distinct barriers and risks faced by civil society entities, including human rights defenders and women’s, 2SLGBTQI+, youth and Indigenous organizations and networks.
Action area 2.1
Global Affairs Canada will work, within the scope of the Department’s mandate, to engage a wide array of new, existing and non-traditional Canadian, international and local stakeholders to facilitate an enabling environment for civil society
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Map out existing consultation mechanisms with civil society, with a view to ensuring effective coordination and accessible communication with CSOs
- Map the range of civil society organizations Global Affairs Canada works with directly, in order to diversify and strengthen its civil society partnerships
- Encourage multi-stakeholder approaches in support of an enabling environment for civil society
Global Affairs Canada and Civil Society will:
- Ensure that a large variety of stakeholders are engaged on relevant issues, including those with expertise in gender analysis, and gender equality and equity
Action area 2.2
Global Affairs Canada will work, within the scope of the Department’s mandate, to facilitate a safe and enabling environment for women’s organizations and women’s rights defenders
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Work with like-minded States and civil society organizations to raise and advance the issue of civil society space in multilateral and bilateral fora, with a particular focus on challenges faced by women’s rights defenders and others working on gender rights issues
- Continue to build awareness across the Department and missions of its “Voices at Risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders”, including its provisions for women's rights defenders and others working on gender rights issues
- Work to promote the inclusion of language on women’s organizations, women’s rights defenders, and others working on gender rights issues in relevant multilateral resolutions or statements
- Work with CSO partners to share learnings on supporting a safe and enabling environment for all genders with relevant Department and partner staff, for example through knowledge sharing webinars and sharing of tools and training materials on gender-based analysis
- Support and strengthen women’s organizations and movements in developing countries for example, through the Women’s Voice and Leadership and the Equality Fund initiatives
Action area 2.3
Global Affairs Canada will leverage the full scope of Canada’s diplomatic assets to promote and protect an enabling environment for civil society, particularly for women’s organizations, including through advocacy and public mobilization activities
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Ensure the effective dissemination of, and training about, its updated “Voices at Risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders” to mission staff, and seek feedback on the implementation of these guidelines across mission activities including diplomacy, development cooperation, and trade
- Encourage the continued use of diplomatic mission resources to support civil society and particularly initiatives to develop enabling environments for civil society
- Work to promote the inclusion of language on enabling and protecting civil society across multilateral initiatives, including any resolutions it sponsors in international forums
- Explore possibilities to reinforce learning opportunities, including pre-deployment training, of employees on the role of civil society in inclusive governance and effective development cooperation, as well as on how to effectively work with civil society abroad, including human rights defenders. Identify opportunities, where possible, for context-specific gender sensitive training or knowledge sharing
Action area 2.4
Global Affairs Canada will take leadership in promoting and protecting an enabling environment for civil society, for example, through its participation in the Community of Democraciesand other forums
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Continue chairing the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society and seek to further promote and protect civil society space within the Community of Democracies, including by working to ensure meaningful representation by States and civil society organizations
- Work to identify other global leadership opportunities to promote and protect an enabling environment for civil society, such as the G7 and G20’s Engagement Groups (e.g. C7/20, Y7/20, W7/20) to incorporate diverse CSO views in the development outcomes of the G7 and the G20
- Use its multilateral and bilateral missions to have local, regional and global events that recognize and promote the contributions of civil society, for example through events and awards that help shine a light on particular contributions and situations.
- Ensure that its work to promote and protect an enabling environment for civil society includes gender equality considerations and, where possible, gender-based analysis
Global Affairs Canada and Civil Society will:
- Encourage participation and representation within civil society of marginalized groups within their activities
Action area 2.5
Global Affairs Canada will identify trends and potential areas for positively influencing the enabling environment for civil society as part of its regular country human rights reporting
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Require missions producing regular country human rights reporting to note trends and opportunities to enhance an enabling environment through engagement with a country’s government, institutions, civil society and private sector, and to include gender-based analysis in these reports. Where feasible, include online trends and opportunities related to new communication technologies
- Provide or support additional opportunities for context-specific gender-based human rights training for personnel responsible for regular country human rights reporting
Action area 2.6
Global Affairs Canada will work to ensure that the Policy informs other relevant departmental policies and programs
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Through its Bureau for Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, as well as other appropriate bureaus, work to ensure that departmental leads on relevant policies and programs, such as those related to conflict prevention and conflict resolution, are informed of, and able to factor in, considerations related to a safe and enabling environment for civil society
- Recognizing their importance for the successful promotion and protection of an enabling environment for civil society in conjunction with a feminist approach, encourage the following elements to be considered across its departmental policies and programs, including partnership agreements, implementation plans, official statements, and/or other initiatives as appropriate:
- Gender equality analysis framework and integration of intersectionality, including through the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA)
Through multi-stakeholder approaches such as the Community of Democracies, Global Media Freedom Coalition and Equal Rights Coalition, GAC is building robust networks and employing diplomatic tools to effectively protect, support and advocate for human rights defenders and journalists. Moreover, GAC holds regular consultations with civil society partners to enable constructive dialogue on priority human rights issues and geographic areas of concern, and these exchanges can later inform bilateral meetings with government representatives, and discussions in multilateral forums, such as the G7 and G20. With like-minded partners, GAC continues to advance the issue of protecting civil society space and freedom of expression, and emphatically condemn all attacks on, threats to and harassment of human rights defenders, recognizing the specific risks faced by women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQI+ persons. In multilateral forums, such as the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly, GAC continues to engage with and be informed by the expertise and advice of CSOs on multilateral human rights resolutions, including those focusing on supporting human rights defenders, freedom of expression and gender equality.
In 2019, GAC launched the updated Voices at Risk Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders (the Guidelines). The Guidelines provide practical advice to Canadian diplomats on how to support human rights defenders. GAC’s network of missions is implementing Voices at Risk in collaboration with international and local civil society partners. To ensure that human rights defenders are effective advocates, GAC will continue to facilitate safe and enabling spaces through actions such as reinforcing networks, building capacity and providing funding, engaging with local authorities, making public statements, and supporting emergency assistance needs. For example, in the Americas, representatives of Canadian missions regularly meet with human rights defenders and provide an inclusive space to share information and to recommend progressive action on initiatives that support human rights defenders. GAC missions in the Asia Pacific region, continue to support local organizations working on issues such as 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion, violence against women and girls, and democratic reform. GAC continues to build awareness among mission staff and at HQ on the Guidelines, including providing training in cooperation with CSO partners, to share best practices and discuss challenges as well as promote gender responsive approaches by forming communities of practice. Moreover, to integrate a gender responsive approach, GBA+ training is offered on a continuous basis at HQ and at missions.
To facilitate an enabling environment for civil society, GAC seeks feedback and receives updates on missions’ activities through regular reporting on human rights; this includes analysis of priority human rights issues affecting civil society. For example, GAC has received reports of the increased and undue interference of CSO activity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In several instances, governments have placed further restrictions on CSOs by conducting investigations leading to prosecution, limiting financial aid from foreign governments, enhancing surveillance and increasing Internet shutdowns. This is especially relevant to CSOs advocating on 2SLGBTQI+, women, minority rights, and freedom of expression.
The advice, knowledge and expertise of civil society is integral to identifying human rights priorities and issues, and key to implementing Canada’s feminist foreign policy goals and objectives. GAC continues to have discussions on the potential mapping of existing consultation mechanisms, though this would be a large undertaking given the size of the network of Canadian missions abroad.
As civic space for human rights advocacy and free media has been restricted considerably in countries with authoritarian and illiberal regimes, Canada and its partners must reinforce and support CSOs and human rights defenders. The impact of COVID-19 on marginalized groups, and the exploitation of the pandemic by some governments to limit human rights and fundamental freedoms will require continued monitoring and effective responses. Canada will continue to navigate challenges and respond to divergent perspectives while advocating for human rights, gender equality, diversity, inclusion and media freedom. Coordination with civil society is vital in the face of opposition and pushback.
Multilateral meetings such as the US-hosted Leaders’ Summit for Democracy offer excellent opportunities to expand stakeholder engagement and strengthen support for CSOs and human rights defenders. Canada’s feminist foreign policy objectives could be further advanced in multilateral institutions such as La Francophonie and the OAS. In addition, as Chair of the Community of Democracies’ Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, Canada will continue to work with members, including CSOs, to address situations where civic space is threatened as demonstrated by Canada’s support for the approval of the OECD-DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance.
Additionally, in pursuing a newly integrated approach to the Indo-Pacific region, Canada will continue cooperation with regional partners on democratic values, governance and human rights, as well as respect for international law. Recently, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and immediately came into force in Canada. The Act creates a lasting framework to advance the implementation of the Declaration at the federal level.
Objective 3: Protect Human Life and Dignity
Global Affairs Canada’s humanitarian assistance programming aims to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain the dignity of people affected by conflicts, acute food insecurity and natural disasters by providing principled, timely and needs-based responses. Global Affairs Canada recognizes the need for complementarity between security, humanitarian action and development programming in protracted and complex crises. The Department also recognizes the importance of international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity.
Humanitarian CSOs are an essential element of Canada’s response to humanitarian crises around the world, and women’s organizations play a unique role in addressing the needs and rights of women and children, and their communities, in humanitarian situations.
Action area 3.1
Global Affairs Canada will work with humanitarian CSOs to promote and protect humanitarian principles collectively, and address key humanitarian policy and operational issues, including gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health and rights
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Work together with CSOs to advocate for compliance with international humanitarian law in armed conflict, international human rights law, and international refugee law
- Global Affairs Canada will continue to advocate for the respect of humanitarian principles, including defending and supporting unfettered and safe access for humanitarian workers, including medical personnel, through United Nations humanitarian resolutions and other fora
- Work together with CSOs to strengthen the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and engage local and women’s organizations, including as part of Canada’s leadership on the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies
- Encourage CSOs to implement the Minimum Standards for Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies; the Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action; and the GBV Accountability Framework in order to address SGBV needs, including developing and refining gender-sensitive and culturally appropriate, community-based complaint mechanisms and referral pathways
- Encourage CSOs to implement the Minimum Initial Service Package for sexual and reproductive health. Global Affairs Canada will continue to work with CSOs to advocate and address sexual and reproductive health and rights needs for those affected by conflict and crises, especially women and girls
Action area 3.2
Global Affairs Canada will increase the proportion of Canada’s humanitarian assistance that is provided through local and national CSOs, including local women’s organizations, using mechanisms such as country-based pooled funds, in line with Canada’s Grand Bargain commitment to support the “localization” of humanitarian assistance
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Encourage CSOs to work more with local/national responders, including local women’s organizations, where possible and appropriate in humanitarian responses, as indicated through A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action
- Encourage CSOs to strengthen the organizational and response capacity of local humanitarian actors with the perspective to support their long-term sustainability
- Global Affairs Canada will seek more transparency on how international organizations (United Nations agencies, ICRC, IFRC, and CSOs) partner with local and national responders, particularly local women’s organizations, including financial flow-through and capacity building, in line with Canada’s Grand Bargain Commitments and the International Aid Transparency Initiative
- Support opportunities for increased participation and visibility of local humanitarian actors at high-level international fora
Global Affairs Canada and Civil Society will:
- Continue to build the evidence base, through the Grand Bargain, on the benefits of multi-year funding and reduced earmarking to encourage humanitarian actors to also provide flexible and predictable funding to local and national partners
Action area 3.3
Global Affairs Canada will work with humanitarian CSOs to invest in and report on sex and age disaggregated data and analysis to deliver more effective responses to humanitarian crises
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Encourage CSOs to apply a gender-responsive approach to all humanitarian initiatives, integrate gender-based analysis in needs assessments and in humanitarian response plans, and support the collection and analysis of data disaggregated by sex, age, and other diversity factors
- Encourage CSOs to support the leadership of local responders to conduct pre-, post- and during crisis gender-based analysis and acknowledge the specific and intersectional needs and priorities of marginalized individuals, particularly women and girls
- Support the use of ethical research practices, including respecting anonymity, data protection, and the de-identification of data, dependent on context
- Encourage CSOs to share gender-based analysis data through existing coordination mechanisms
Action area 3.4
Global Affairs Canada will work with humanitarian CSOs to integrate gender equality and human rights-based approaches in humanitarian assistance to support community preparedness for, and ensure effective responses to, humanitarian crises, while responding to the specific needs of women and girls
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Work with CSO partners to improve gender-responsiveness in humanitarian action, as committed to in A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action
- Encourage CSOs to systematically ensure the participation, leadership and empowerment of women and girls in humanitarian processes, including through the participation of women in key planning and decision-making positions and governance structures
- Promote development investments in gender-transformative activities from the outset of humanitarian responses, including the protection and advancement of the rights of women and girls in fragile, conflict, and crisis situations
Action area 3.5
Global Affairs Canada will facilitate capacity building and organizational development and learning among humanitarian partners
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Continue to engage with CSO networks on key policy, operational and multilateral issues, and support the facilitation of discussion, knowledge-sharing, and dissemination of lessons learned
- Work with CSOs to strengthen safeguarding against sexual exploitation and abuse, and adhere to standards of best practice, reporting, transparency, and accountability as set out under the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Strategy on Protection from and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) and Sexual Harassment, the six core principles of the IASC Plan of Action and Core Principles of Codes of Conduct on PSEA in Humanitarian Crises, and the IASC Eight Minimum Operating Standards on PSEA
- Promote active CSO participation and leadership in humanitarian and multilateral fora, including where possible as part of the Canadian Delegation
The increase in armed conflicts, protracted crises and natural disasters has resulted in unprecedented humanitarian needs. In this context, CSOs remain an essential element of Canada’s response to humanitarian crises, notably through collaboration in advocacy and the delivery of life-saving services.
In 2019, GAC launched A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action, to advance the protection of human dignity and further strengthen gender responsive humanitarian action. This policy framework has helped to guide key areas of collaboration between CSOs and GAC.
In 2019–2020, Canada was the global lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (CtA). Canada facilitated the collective advocacy of CtA’s 89 members, including CSOs, on the prevention and response to SGBV in emergenciesFootnote 1 and launched the Road Map 2021–2025, members’ commitment to taking collective action to address GBV.
Canada has increased investments in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights programming in humanitarian contexts from $22.2 million to $68.3 million between 2016 and 2020. Through investments to CSOs, 333,113 women and girls received SRH services, including access to contraception in 2019.
For GAC, multilateral organizations and CSOs play an important role by partnering with local actors, particularly women-led organizations, and by recognizing and supporting their capacity and empowering their leadership in humanitarian contexts. GAC now provides over half of its humanitarian assistance as multi-year funding—predictability that enhances CSOs ability to have more constructive partnerships with local actors.
To empower women and girls, Canada has supported Women’s rights organizations (WROs) and networks, both locally and internationally, through for example, its support to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) country-based pooled funds. In 2020, Canada contributed over $50 million to 16 UN Country-Based Pooled Funds—a significant source of funding for local CSOs.
Through multilateral and country-level engagement, Canada has sought to ensure parties to conflicts provide unimpeded humanitarian access and protect civilians, humanitarian and medical personnel, for example, in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges, engendered unprecedented levels of humanitarian need, and further stretched humanitarian system and humanitarian actors. In parallel, climate change is also increasing peoples’ vulnerability, including through extreme weather events and natural disasters, and escalating food insecurity. The state of geopolitics and some actors’ lack of compliance with international law continue to make conflicts more protracted and intense with adverse impacts for crisis-affected populations. Internal and cross-border displacement continues to grow, contributing to heightened protection needs, in situations of sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity and decreased access to sexual and reproductive health services. Disease outbreaks are threatening to reverse gains made over the past 20 years, and mental health and psychosocial supports are unable to meet demand. Gender inequalities, exacerbated by COVID-19, have also led to increased rates of sexual and gender-based violence, and vulnerable populations continue to experience intersectional discrimination and barriers to accessing services.
GAC will continue to proactively engage with Canadian CSOs in response to sector-specific trends. This includes engagement in the following areas.
- Diversity and inclusion, with the broader goal of ensuring that intersectional approaches are explored in policy and programming;
- Shifting power in local contexts to advance the localization agenda and work meaningfully with local actors, including women-led organizations; and
- Broader engagement on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse to encourage adherence to minimum standards and learning opportunities across the sector.
Objective 4: Foster CSO leadership in innovation
InnovationFootnote 2 presents significant opportunities to maximize the impact of Canada’s work in international assistance and advance shared priorities for Global Affairs Canada and its partners. Global Affairs, therefore, seeks to collaborate with Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) and other key partners to identify and adopt innovative approaches to international assistance, and deliver results more effectively and efficiently, particularly where pressing development challenges would benefit from new or improved innovative solutions. This includes CSOs at the local level, given their important role in generating locally driven, innovative solutions that reflect local priorities and approaches and are, therefore, often most enduring.
Action area 4.1
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSOs and other partners, through programming, to incubate innovative ideas, test promising initiatives, adapt, replicate and scale up those solutions with the potential for widespread impact and effectiveness, while accounting for the gender dimensions of innovations
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Consult with CSOs on the Innovation Guidance to departmental staff and partners in support of the Feminist International Assistance Policy
- Continue to work with CSOs to create more space for generating and implementing innovative solutions in international assistance (e.g. continued engagement on ways to empower and incentivize partners, including through incubating, testing or identifying opportunities to scale)
- Invite the integration of new or improved innovative solutions in programming initiatives submitted by partners through calls for proposals, unsolicited proposals, and other programming mechanisms, where relevant
- Support the testing of innovative solutions by Canadian international assistance partners, including Small and Medium Organizations, to generate learning applicable to all CSO programming
Action area 4.2
Global Affairs Canada will adapt mechanisms to facilitate innovation through modernized business tools and processes with a range of CSO partners
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Work with CSOs to identify how to improve systems to better support partner efforts to innovate, and make connections where relevant with the work underway on Objective 6.
- Seek input and ideas from CSO partners through various forums, including the Multi-Stakeholder Community of Practice on Development Innovation, regarding:
- Tools to help equip staff and CSO partners looking to innovate.
- Monitoring and evaluation good practice on innovation including impact assessment.
- Opportunities and challenges with innovation processes – from design and testing to scaling.
- The creation of safe spaces for sharing innovation insights and lessons on what worked and what did not among Global Affairs Canada partners.
- Consult internally and with partners on opportunities and challenges to fostering innovation, including implications for institutional processes (e.g. results-based management, funding mechanisms and tools, financial management and oversight)
Action area 4.3
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSOs and other stakeholders to facilitate knowledge-sharing regarding best practices and processes in development innovation, including innovations that are informed by gender analysis
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Reinforce existing knowledge sharing networks and practices focused on innovation and transformation, with a particular focus on inclusive innovation and leaving no one behind to achieve Agenda 2030
- Continue to co-host and organize the quarterly meetings of the Multi-Stakeholder Community of Practice on Development Innovation with CSO partners on a range of innovation topics for knowledge sharing on good practice and lessons learned
- Promote continued dialogue, learning and sharing on innovation in international assistance at Canadian missions abroad and involving local partners and stakeholders
- Organize Development Innovation Learning Series events, jointly with CSO partners and networks, on emerging innovation issues such as scaling, artificial intelligence and others
- Look for more ways to support efforts towards bringing global knowledge to local innovation ecosystems and bringing local innovation learning to Canada’s innovation partners and networks nationally and internationally
- Collaborate with CSO partners to tell the innovation story by gathering data and developing a portfolio overview of innovative solutions supported by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by CSO partners
- Share knowledge, through documentation and events, on: good practice, lessons, and case studies of the implementation of the Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact, particularly as it relates to gender equality and human-rights based approach
GAC collaborated with CSOs to prepare the guidance note on Canada’s approach to innovation in international assistance, which was released in November 2019.
As indicated in objective 6, GAC is collaborating with CSOs and improving its processes to make them more flexible, make funding more predictable and reduce the administrative burden for its partners, allowing them to implement innovative solutions more easily.
GAC worked with CSOs to encourage the incubation of innovative ideas and the scaling up of promising initiatives, among other things. For example, GAC provided the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) with funding to implement the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT) under the Small and Medium Organizations (SMOs) for Impact and Innovation initiative. FIT provides funding to Canadian SMOs that, in partnership with local organizations, test innovative solutions to current development problems; these solutions will advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
GAC also worked with CSOs to better share knowledge about best practices and innovation processes. In that regard, 12 meetings of the Multi-Stakeholder Community of Practice on Development Innovation were held between June 2017 and December 2021 (roughly 3 times per year). These brought together CSOs and stakeholders active in development innovation to help build collective capacities through an exchange of knowledge on best practices, new approaches and tools related to development innovation. GAC serves as the secretariat and collaborates with members of this community of practice by co chairing events and meetings on a rotational basis. Since the guidance note was released, the community of practice has turned its attention to a variety of subjects, such as gender equality and innovation; scenario planning for risk management and innovation (session co chaired by Cooperation Canada); SMOs, innovation and the sustainable development goals (in collaboration with the MCIC and the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation); and evaluating impact (with the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab).
GAC organized joint training activities for employees of the department and CSOs on scaling up promising innovations (January 31, 2019) and testing innovations in international assistance (December 10, 2019). In June 2021, GAC piloted training on development innovation (in collaboration with the Centre for Learning in Intercultural Effectiveness and the International Development Research Centre) for partner organizations and Canadian CSOs operating in Bolivia. GAC helped write Toward Bridging Gender Equality & Innovation (PDF version) and Innovating to Address Gender-Based Violence (PDF version), guides that were published by the International Development Innovation Alliance, which the Department made available to CSOs in both official languages. In July 2021, GAC shared data with the OECD Development Assistance Committee on innovative projects that had received funding; in the fall of 2021, GAC posted the data on the Open Government Portal.
Despite this progress, GAC’s expectations regarding innovation in project proposals are not always clear, and CSOs do not always understand them fully. CSOs feel that partners are not familiar enough with the innovative initiatives supported by GAC. While the community of practice is one of the mechanisms that GAC has used to collaborate with CSOs on innovation, the pandemic is limiting CSOs’ ability to volunteer to co chair meetings. CSOs recognize that, in general, they do not often share their experiences, knowledge and innovations with each other. In fact, CSOs sometimes hesitate to speak freely about their innovative solutions in this kind of forum; a trust relationship still needs to be established. Lastly, the fact that there are numerous forums poses a challenge: CSOs focus on a limited number of networks directly related to their main field of interest, and there is little or no sharing among the various networks.
There are a number of possibilities that are currently being fleshed out, beginning with the more effective communication of the definitions and basic innovation tools that GAC has developed. This is a good time to promote the links between inclusion and innovation, in accordance with the Whistler Principles. More detailed and clearer instructions about defining and measuring innovation could be included in GAC documents, especially when it comes to submitting proposals and preparing reports.
In addition, providing more details about GAC-funded innovative solutions could foster learning and get CSOs to scale up the most promising solutions. Sharing information by theme would make it easier for CSOs to identify innovative solutions that could inspire their approaches.
GAC will explore the possibility of expanding participation in the Multi-Stakeholder Community of Practice or holding joint meetings between the community of practice and CSO groups working on certain themes (for example, Cooperation Canada groups that focus on the sustainable development goals).
GAC and CSO representatives jointly submitted this report to the community of practice on December 14, 2021, and we are now gathering additional suggestions from members of the community of practice regarding opportunities for promoting and supporting innovation in international assistance.
Objective 5: Integrate the role of CSOs as independent actors into international assistance programming
Global Affairs Canada recognizes CSOs as independentactors that provide resources, expertise and networks that help achieve Canada’s international assistance objectives. Canada understands the importance of considering a diversity of perspectives in international assistance programs and strategies, and is committed to deepening, extending, and operationalizing principles of democratic ownership.
Action area 5.1
Global Affairs Canada will maintain active engagement with diverse Canadian, international and local CSOs, through regular formal and informal policy dialogue to seek their perspectives on Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Utilize online tools (eg. portals, webinars, dialogue platforms) to ensure that consultations, capacity building opportunities and dissemination of knowledge are accessible to a wide diversity of CSOs, regardless of their geographic location, size or resources
- Map CSOs that are currently engaged with Global Affairs Canada, with the aim of understanding the synergies and opportunities to diversify
- Promote two-way communication and dialogue platforms to enrich policy dialogue. This may include in-country engagement between Global Affairs Canada missions and local partners, specifically those that have not previously been engaged, and have the outcomes of these engagements feedback to Global Affairs staff in Canada
- Develop guidelines that provide practical information and support to build and engage in diverse partnerships in order to help inform meaningful consultation with a diversity of Canadian and local partners, both by Global Affairs Canada and Canadian CSOs
Action area 5.2
Global Affairs Canada will support a broad range of CSO partners to ensure a diverse civil society is represented through Canada’s international assistance
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Build upon lessons learned from the Canadian Small and Medium Organizations for Impact and Innovation Initiative to develop a long-term mechanism to fund more and diverse actors
Global Affairs Canada and CSOs will:
- Recognize and utilize the expertise that exists among CSOs and Global Affairs Canada by co-creating capacity building opportunities in areas such as: risk management, gender transformative approaches, and the nuts and bolts of common procedures involved in managing Global Affairs Canada grants and contributions. Integrate a train-the-trainer approach to ensure longevity and replicability of learning
- Facilitate, in collaboration with provincial and regional councils for international cooperation and CCIC, mentorship and knowledge sharing among CSOs to support those that are unfamiliar with Global Affairs Canada project management procedures and tools
- Review existing guidance and training materials to enhance GAC and CSO use of a feminist lens and human rights based approach in the conduct of consultations to support voice and agency and seek to reduce barriers to engagement
Building on the comprehensive CSO engagement that took place during the International Assistance Review and the FIAP commitment to engage Canadian CSOs, GAC and the sector developed a set of mechanisms to facilitate regular dialogue on policy and programming issues.
GAC and the sector have convened dialogues focused on: geographic regions and countries; sectors; process streamlining; international development reporting; and on topics such as anti-racism, the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and the humanitarian-development-peace (triple) nexus. The “triple nexus” refers to the interlinkages between humanitarian, development and peace actions, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. In the context of the pandemic, these consultations have transitioned online, facilitating the involvement of more organizations across Canada.
There are 3 overarching consultation groups with Canadian organizations.
- The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Bureau holds bi-annual outreach events with the CFO partner community: the Spring CFO Roundtable and the Fall CFO Engagement, Dialogue and Exposition-a three day event- engaging more than 100 partner organizations. It also engages the CFO Working Group, led by Cooperation Canada, to consult on specific grants and contributions policy and due diligence renewal needs.
- The Task Force for Improving Effectiveness (TaFIE) meets regularly. Results to date include the issuance of more detailed information about funding processes and the introduction of concept notes which lower the application burden. TaFIE recently initiated a review of the project budget approval process.
- The Civil Society Policy Advisory Group has launched a review of progress related to the nine objectives of the CSO policy.
In response to the pandemic, GAC created three new groups: GAC/Sector Dialogue Group, Solutions Group, and Volunteer Cooperation Program Ginger Group. All three groups helped develop guidelines and flexibilities related to cost eligibilities to facilitate implementing partner project delivery during the pandemic. GAC published the guidance and flexibilities resulting from this collaboration on its website.
GAC has also taken measures to diversify its partnerships with Canadian CSOs. Under the Small and Medium Sized Organizations (SMOs) initiative, 40 projects have been approved to date, the majority led by organizations without current or previous GAC funding. These efforts include providing training to SMOs through Spur Change, a 5-year initiative to increase the capacity of SMOs to deliver international development projects.
In addition, GAC has hosted networking sessions as part of recent calls for proposals to encourage CSOs to share information and collaborate when submitting proposals and implementing projects, and is rolling out a collaborative learning agenda for recipients of the Education for Refugees Call for Proposals. Provincial and regional councils, Cooperation Canada, CAIDP and CanWaCH have also conducted networking and knowledge-sharing activities.
While engagement between GAC and CSOs has increased, it has been with organizations that already receive GAC funding, in particular large organizations, that are members of networks such as Cooperation Canada, the Inter-Council Network, CAIDP and CanWaCH. Consideration needs to be given as to how to engage with a greater range of existing GAC partners and Canadian CSOs that GAC does not fund. To achieve this with cultural effectiveness, the integration of Indigenous people and other underrepresented groups at all levels of our sector will need to be addressed. Canadian organizations working in international development should also consider how to more substantively engage with local organizations, including in the design and implementation of programming and how to motivate more proactive sharing of information between organizations. A recent evaluation of GAC’s Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch also noted that engagement could be strengthened through the development of a strategic framework for public engagement around Canada’s international assistance priorities, and that although the SMO initiative is a positive step, there is potential to further diversify partnerships.
During the pandemic, GAC and CSOs shifted to virtual work, which has facilitated more consultations between Canadian CSOs and GAC. The availability of new collaboration platforms and the increased familiarity of governments and CSOs with these platforms has created opportunities to reach beyond our normal networks and engage a more diverse set of organizations, to identify and work with new sources of expertise, and to reach additional beneficiaries. There is an opportunity to continue to build on these new means of engagement both during and after the pandemic.
There is also an opportunity for GAC and Canada's international development sector to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, and ensure that Canada's international assistance better recognizes, supports, integrates and values Indigenous organizations, leadership, voices and knowledge.
Objective 6: Establish more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms
To support a robust CSO ecosystem, Global Affairs Canada is committed to working with CSOs of diverse size and scale, sector and region to achieve Canada’s international assistance priorities and empower women and girls and promote gender equality. While the Department engages with civil society in many forms, funding is recognized as a component of this engagement.
Global Affairs Canada recognizes the importance of providing a variety of merit-based selection mechanisms to allow for diverse Canadian, international and local CSO partners, to plan and deliver international assistance initiatives. At the same time, Global Affairs Canada encourages CSOs to be financially independent and to seek funding from multiple sources, as this enables them to better secure their own sustainability.
Global Affairs Canada understands that equitable access to a mix of short-, medium-, and long-term funding, appropriate to the context, can enhance the achievement of international assistance outcomes and support a thriving civil society sector.
Global Affairs Canada also recognizes that responsive selection mechanisms and more flexible funding can provide the impetus for innovative approaches, and that CSOs require time and effort to plan their programming.
Action area 6.1
Global Affairs Canada will streamline its international assistance selection processes and design programs that offer equitable and predictable funding opportunities for a variety of CSOs
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Build on lessons learned during the implementation of Calls for Proposals processes and incorporate into future Calls
- Pilot a new set of requirements for proposal development to ensure that the level of effort required is proportional to the level of funding and the level of authority required for making a decision on the proposal
- Explore additional options for making selection processes faster and more predictable, including introducing service standards for a number of critical stages of the process
- Pilot a streamlined approach to engage with organizations/partners who have received Global Affairs Canada funding for multiple initiatives over several years
- Explore options for more predictable funding frameworks, taking into account an organization’s overall capacity and effectiveness and the quality, impact and outcomes of its current projects, including gender equality outcomes
Action area 6.2
Global Affairs Canada will ensure detailed and current information on existing selection mechanisms is available on the Department’s website
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Publish clear, current and comprehensive information and guidance on the range of funding selection mechanisms on the Department’s website
- Publish information on upcoming and open Calls for Proposals on GAC’s website,including the status of calls
- Keep the information online relevant, up-to-date and optimized to meet usability and accessibility needs
Action area 6.3
Global Affairs Canada will invest in multi-year gender responsive humanitarian funding to increase the ability of our humanitarian partners to respond more efficiently and effectively to humanitarian crises
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Provide effective support through rapid response mechanisms, including expedited approval processes, to meet gender-responsive humanitarian needs in a timely fashion working with civil society partners, including local and women’s organizations
- Explore innovative and responsive funding mechanisms to address the multi-year needs of protracted crises and to promote coherence between humanitarian and development cooperation, including by leading policy development, and by providing multi-year humanitarian funding to UN and CSO partners
- Provide support in at least five countries through multi-year funding and monitor and evaluate the outcomes of these responses including gender equality outcomes
Action area 6.4
Global Affairs Canada will streamline and accelerate procedures related to funding and reporting (including results-based and risk management) to reduce the administrative burden on partners
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Develop clear tools and approaches to make it easier for partners to prepare budgets that meet GAC requirements
- Publish a Reporting Guide that will clearly articulate to CSOs, GAC’s reporting requirements and streamline these requirements
- Streamline internal fiduciary risk management tools and processes to reduce administrative burden and increase efficiencies
- Communicate these changes broadly to partners and provide information regarding new processes and policies
A number of significant changes have been implemented and/or tested since 2018 to make funding mechanisms more flexible, equitable and transparent. GAC continues to fine-tune its funding application requirements and overall processes to better respond to partners’ needs and to facilitate working with the Department. For example, the Department launched a pilot in 2020 to accept unsolicited concept notes that do not use a smart-form template, providing more flexibility to pitch project ideas.
In a recent Call for Proposals, GAC provided applicants an opportunity to meet and network, encouraging participants to further collaborate. For increased transparency, GAC published webcasts to share relevant information with applicants in another call. The use of concept notes in calls was introduced in 2019, a change informed by consultations with Canadian partners.
To increase the transparency and predictability of calls, GAC has published a 12-month rolling calendar of upcoming calls since July 2021. Consequent changes were made to the calls webpage and further development of the Partners@International portal is underway, in order to provide more information about applicants’ progress in different calls.
To better engage with CSO organizations funded by GAC for multiple initiatives over several years, the Department implemented the CFO-to-CFO Partner Focal Point. Since December 2020, 17 partners have been included in the implementation of this function. The focal point function provides a streamlined framework for engaging with GAC on financial and fiduciary oversight and due diligence issues, that improves predictability, equitability, flexibility and transparency of funding. The implementation of the function will expand throughout 2022.
Since 2019, GAC has responded to sudden-onset events in 23 countries through the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF). The CHAF, which responds to small-and medium-scale, rapid-onset crises, enables Canada’s Humanitarian Coalition member agencies comprised of CSOs to respond quickly to unmet humanitarian needs. As part of CHAF’s design, members complete a gender analysis and provide sex- and age-disaggregated data in their final reporting to ensure that programming is gender responsive.
Demonstrating its commitment to the Grand Bargain and the Principles and Practices of Good Humanitarian Donorship, Canada continues to provide multi-year and flexible humanitarian funding. In 2020, Canada provided 58% of its humanitarian funding as multi-year and over 35% was in the form of flexible funding (unearmarked and softly earmarked), exceeding the Grand Bargain 30% target.
In 2020–2021, Canada continued to be an active member of the Pooled Fund Working Group, a body of key stakeholders that provides policy guidance to the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the use and impact of the UN Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs). Together with other donors, Canada continued to strongly advocate for the advancement of the localization agenda and gender equality considerations within CBPF operations.
Work continues to reduce the amount of information requested at various points of the funding process, while ensuring that enough information is provided to meet legislative and regulatory requirements for the funding process to run efficiently. The introduction of new information and analyses requirements without removing existing ones, has led to challenges in the Project Implementation Plan (PIP) approval process, causing delays to address questions where requirements are not equally understood by all stakeholders. It is normal and expected that projects must change sometimes to achieve expected results; however, with the exception of changes due to the pandemic, CSOs have faced some challenges in getting support for changes during project implementation. The introduction of the standard minimum cost share of 5% has caused a challenge to establishing equitable access to funding, as CSOs based solely in Canada do not have the same access to sources of funds as to those able to obtain matching funds from non-Canadian affiliates. While changes such as those described here are meant to improve funding processes, they can sometimes create new challenges to ongoing work on standardization, predictability and equitability.
GAC streamlined and simplified many approval processes during the pandemic. Work continues to evaluate the process changes put in place for COVID-19 projects to help implement the lessons learned in the programming process generally. The increased popularity of virtual conferencing solutions in recent years makes it easier to have real-time discussions, consultations and information sessions with partners around the world. Development continues on a new system to track and manage transfer payment programming fiduciary risks, which will replace the current, outdated and inefficient tool. Early‑stage engagement with partners to identify issues and develop solutions for the project budget process occurred in spring and summer 2021. Development work continues as part of GAC’s broader transformation initiative (known as Game Changers) to improve international assistance programming effectiveness and efficiency. GAC will continue to engage the CSO community through various mechanisms.
Objective 7: Foster multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance
All relevant actors, including CSOs, the private sector, the research community, multilateral organizations, national governments and other actors (such as Canadian youth and cultural communities), contribute to development in distinct and complementary ways. Global Affairs Canada is committed to supporting multi-stakeholder approaches and seeks to foster effective partnerships among these actors. Global Affairs Canada recognizes the important role that dialogue plays in facilitating mutual respect and accountability, particularly in the context of multi-stakeholder approaches.
Action area 7.1
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSOs to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships that build on the comparative strengths of each actor and mobilize partners in pursuit of a common goal, including through engagement in international forums such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Continue to recognize and support CSOs as development actors in their own right, including by encouraging the participation of CSOs in multi-stakeholder partnerships for international assistance
- Support the GPEDC as the primary multi-stakeholder forum for effective development cooperation by advocating for its functioning through multi-stakeholder approaches. For example, Global Affairs Canada will continue to:
- Advocate for CSO and private sector representation and for their contribution to the decision-making processes on the steering committee and at the associated senior level meetings
- Support IATI as a multi-stakeholder norm-setting forum on transparency in support of effective development cooperation. For example, Global Affairs Canada will continue to:
- Advocate for CSO and private sector representation and for their contribution to the decision-making processes on the Members’ Assembly and Governing Board
- Work closely with members of the IATI community, including CSO representatives, to maximize the use of open data on international assistance in support of development effectiveness and sustainable development results
- Through Canada’s participation in the multi-stakeholder Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment, highlight the work of the Task Team in order to advance effective CSO participation in global, national and local international development-related processes
- Promote inclusive membership and governance processes in regional, national and local multi-stakeholder forums through Canada-led convening initiatives. For example, Global Affairs Canada will continue to:
- Advocate to improve cross-sector representation
- Promote governance processes that are inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, including representation from poor, marginalized and vulnerable populations
- Seek to include representatives from marginalized and vulnerable populations and undertake measures to avoid exclusion of underrepresented groups;
- Work with civil society and other partners, as appropriate, to set clear parameters for each instance of multi-stakeholder engagement and determine the manner in which power dynamics will be addressed, such as whether the partnership is being created for decision-making or dialogue
Action area 7.2
Global Affairs Canada will work to encourage dialogue and effective collaboration and partnerships between international assistance actors, including multi-stakeholder partnerships
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Continue to work with CSO partners, for example through the Task Force on Improving Effectiveness, to identify how to improve systems to better support efforts to collaborate and partner; and make connections where relevant with the work underway on Objective 6
- Consult internally and with partners on opportunities and challenges to fostering collaboration and partnerships, including implications for institutional structures (e.g. funding mechanisms and tools), through the Task Force on Improving Effectiveness and other relevant engagement opportunities
- Promote principles of effective multi-stakeholder engagement in domestic, bilateral, and multilateral fora, including inclusion and participation, with a view to leaving no one behind
- Catalyze support for gender equality and the rights of girls and women in developing countries through multi-stakeholder approaches (e.g. Partnership for Gender Equality Programming, Women’s Voice and Leadership projects)
- Help build the capacity of CSO partners within existing partnerships to work in multi-stakeholder partnerships that include representatives from the private sector, women as well as poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups
- Seek to advance sector specific multi-stakeholder roundtables in developing countries and encourage partner country governments to engage in multi-stakeholder dialogue, based on transparency, mutual respect and accountability, in line with the principles of the Open Government Partnership
- In collaboration with CSO partners, convene stakeholders to engage with the international development research community
Action area 7.3
Global Affairs Canada and Canadian CSOs will draw on their memberships in key multilateral and multi-stakeholder groups to work with a broad range of partners to further Canada’s international assistance priorities
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Support and mobilize multi-stakeholder partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For example, Global Affairs Canada will continue to:
- Include participation from a variety of stakeholder groups on the Canadian delegation for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
- Encourage multi-stakeholder partnerships to mobilize financing for the SDGs that supports principles of effective development cooperation
- Work with Canadian CSOs and other partners to encourage the participation of representatives from poor, marginalized and vulnerable populations in international fora in relation to the 2030 Agenda
- Convene multi-stakeholder representatives in support of Canada’s international development priorities at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
- Advocate for multi-stakeholder participation, including representation from poor, marginalized and vulnerable populations, in international meetings on the 2030 Agenda
- Actively engage with Canadian and international CSOs through established multilateral civil society structures such as the G7 and G20’s Engagement Groups (e.g. C7/20, Y7/20, W7/20) to incorporate diverse CSO views in the development outcomes of the G7 and the G20
- Engage in sector-specific multi-stakeholder partnerships (e.g. education; SRHR; Women, peace and security; gender equality)
- Advocate for support to multi-stakeholder partnerships through Canada’s contributions to over 50 active World Bank trust funds (e.g. during executive board meetings and consultations on draft guidance documents)
GAC is working with CSOs and other partners to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships that build on and mobilize the comparative strengths of each actor in pursuit of a common goal.
Launched in February 2021, GAC’s Departmental Strategy for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG) aims for all business lines to adopt a sustainable development perspective, making the Department more coherent, effective and impactful. Fostering broad and inclusive partnerships in support of sustainable development is one of the main objectives of the Strategy. The Strategy aligns with and contributes to the national strategy (Moving forward together: Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy), which emphasizes a whole-of-society approach to implementing the SDGs.
In high-level political forums, GAC has been intentional and proactive about consulting and including the CSO sector. For example, GAC’s annual participation in the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the primary follow-up and review mechanism for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, incorporated a multi-stakeholder approach that included consultations with Indigenous peoples, civil society, the private sector, academia and youth, as well as with provincial/territorial and municipal representatives.
Canada has continued to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in international forums, and informed its position through CSO consultations. In collaboration with Women and Gender Equality Canada, Canada submitted its candidacy to lead the Feminist Movements and Leadership Action Coalition for the Generation Equality Forum, presenting the opportunity to work with a diversity of stakeholders and foster inclusive, intersectional and intergenerational dialogue to deliver on commitments to target the most persistent gender equality challenges. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, GAC facilitated the participation of youth, practitioners, and global health experts in the Development Ministers’ Contact Group. GAC also continued to engage with established multilateral CSO groups, including the Y7 and Y20 to incorporate diverse views in the outcome documents of the G7 and G20 processes. To inform its participation in the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), Canada consults with CSOs, trade unions and philanthropies’ stakeholders on the effectiveness of all efforts to achieve the SDGs, including through means beyond traditional ODA.
GAC directly collaborates with CSOs and also encourages collaboration between stakeholders. As such, GAC recently launched a Private Sector Engagement for Sustainable Development Strategy, which presents an approach to broaden and deepen our partnerships with the private sector to increase investment in support of the SDGs. In particular, the Strategy seeks to systematically apply the private sector’s unique expertise in the delivery of international assistance and accelerate the mobilization of private capital to facilitate inclusive economic growth. One example of a successful multi-stakeholder partnership is Grand Challenges Canada, which leverages innovative solutions from a range of actors to address global health challenges. As one of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, Grand Challenges Canada has supported a pipeline of over 1,300 innovations in 106 countries. The partnership between Canada and the Equality Fund is another great example of collaboration, bringing together CSOs, philanthropies, private sector, government and local women’s organizations to strengthen the global feminist funding ecosystem and better drive sustainable behaviour change for gender equality. The goal of this new and unique global platform is to pool and leverage resources to attract new partners and create more opportunities to close gender gaps and eliminate barriers to gender equality. Finally, through Canada’s leadership of the GPEDC’s Action Area on triangular cooperation, a wide array of stakeholders is working together to test and improve the practical implementation of the 2019 voluntary guidelines on triangular cooperation and promote this modality.
The pandemic has delayed further engagement on bilateral donor relations. However, GAC is committed to finding opportunities to further collaboration with CSOs and multi-stakeholder partners. The pandemic has also shifted large events, such as the HLPF, online, requiring adaptation in terms of the engagement of diverse stakeholders, including local partners.
While GAC made an intentional and consistent effort to consult CSOs, some civil society actors feel that consultations have tended to focus on the same large umbrella organizations, which do not always represent diverse perspectives from people and communities across the country. GAC will re-evaluate how to conduct consultations in a more inclusive manner.
Broad and inclusive partnerships are central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, thus the CSO Policy and the SDG strategies could be mutually reinforcing. The international community recognizes the 2030 Agenda as the global roadmap for pandemic recovery and building back better. There are significant opportunities to use this to build momentum for multi-stakeholder partnerships.
In terms of specific relations between GAC and the CSO sector, the civil society sector reported that many small and medium-sized organizations struggle to see the relevance of their contributions or how their recommendations are implemented. They proposed implementing an adaptation of “Hill Days,” so that representatives of GAC directorates can interact and identify common interests with a broader range of civil society groups. Moreover, the civil society sector believes that for GAC to become truly inclusive, it must bridge the information and capacity gaps that make it difficult for smaller CSOs to engage fully.
Objective 8: Engaging Canadians as global citizens in international assistance
Canadian CSOs are globally recognized leaders for their expertise in the areas of peace and security, humanitarian action and sustainable, transformative development. They also have a unique and positive approach to supporting local CSOs to build capacity and take ownership of their programming and results. Their strong relationships with local CSOs, including women’s organizations, strengthen Canada’s engagement at the community level and enhance Canada’s networks abroad. Global Affairs Canada is committed to engaging with diverse Canadian CSO partners, to build their capacity and maximize the global impact of Canada’s CSO community. Establishing new Canadian CSO partnerships can increase the effectiveness of the Department’s and CSOs’ own international assistance efforts, and ensure that Canada’s investments yield lasting results.
Canadian CSOs play a key role in expressing Canadian values and telling Canada’s feminist international assistance story, which can foster global citizenship, particularly among youth, and help inspire Canadians to engage in transformative action to reduce poverty and overcome gender inequality. CSOs engage Canadians in a broader and deeper understanding of international issues, including promoting global citizenship and mobilizing citizens to participate actively in Canada’s international assistance efforts.
Action area 8.1
Global Affairs Canada will, where appropriate, encourage Canadian CSOs to create pan-Canadian partnerships with global reach that can tackle major development challenges, such as gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Collaborate with key partners to develop and share good practice as well as innovative approaches to gender-integrated global citizenship education, public engagement and communications, joint mobilization, data collection and learning
- Develop a shared understanding, in collaboration with diverse CSOs, including women’s and girls’ rights organizations and small and medium-sized organizations, of global citizenship education and public engagement approaches, a sectoral theory of change, and guidance on gender-sensitive and transformative targets, as well as indicators that reflect the priorities presented in the FIAP, and Agenda 2030
- Support Canadian partners to collaborate, and strengthen networks for global citizenship education and public engagement on Canada’s development priorities, including gender equality and women’s rights, through periodic online and face-to-face dialogue and learning activities
Action area 8.2
Global Affairs Canada will amplify the work of CSO partners to strategically engage Canadians in international assistance through innovative digital technologies and an enhanced online presence
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Participate in partner initiatives that support innovative and multi-stakeholder approaches to global citizenship education and public engagement, particularly those that support or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
- Provide an improved project browser tool to enable users to search an online, interactive tool and download information to learn more about CSOs’ international assistance efforts funded by GAC
- Highlight civil society partners’ contributions through multimedia arts, and develop mutual approaches to creating and amplifying content related to CSO partner activities using innovative technologies
- Request submissions from partners for digital media to support GAC engagement activities and profile partner activities
Action area 8.3
Global Affairs Canada will invest strategically in Canadian CSO public engagement activities, in Canada and abroad, that enhance visibility and raise awareness of Canada’s international assistance results, as well as building citizen engagement and contributions to international assistance efforts
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Establish predictability for global citizenship education and public engagement funding, including allowable amounts integrated into calls for proposals with Canadian CSOs
- Provide larger, longer-term global citizenship education and public engagement funding, in order to deepen reach and collaborate with diverse populations of Canadians, including new immigrants, indigenous communities, and youth, to promote active global citizenship and gender equality
- Deepen collaboration between GAC and CSOs to support global citizenship education and public engagement across Canada, and in relation to major events and alliances
- Support dialogue with civil society related to public engagement and global citizenship, in domestic and international fora
Through 2019‑2021, GAC continued to support the engagement of Canadians as global citizens in international assistance through partnerships with Canadian organizations. GAC’s approach to public engagement, implemented in partnership with CSOs, includes efforts to broaden Canadians’ understanding of international development and learning through global citizenship education.
This approach has been advanced in part through GAC’s strategic investments in the public engagement activities of Canadian CSOs, such as the Inspiring Action for Global Citizenship initiative led by the Inter-Council Network. This initiative, supported by an investment of over $18 million (2019‑2023), aims to increase awareness and engage Canadians as global citizens in support of Canada’s international development objectives and the SDGs.
GAC’s Volunteer Cooperation Program ($420 million, 2020‑2027) also provides opportunities for Canadians to give their time and use their skills and expertise to support communities in developing countries. This way, volunteers directly contribute to advancing the FIAP. Volunteers also play a key role in engaging Canadians in international development by sharing their international experiences, thereby increasing the number of Canadians who are aware of and engage in Canada’s international development efforts. Another example of GAC’s support for the public-engagement activities of CSOs is the $14 million (2016‑2021) investment in the CanWaCH initiative, which facilitates knowledge exchange among Canadian CSOs and engages Canadians on global health issues.
Advanced in partnership with Canadian CSOs, GAC’s approach to public engagement encourages broad engagement of Canadians and key groups such as youth. For instance, in February 2020, GAC launched the Together for Learning Campaign, which contributes to the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 and aligns with a 2019 ministerial commitment to lead an international campaign to ensure that all refugee and displaced children can get the education they need and deserve. This campaign includes a public education module for Canadian classrooms to build relationships between Canadian children and refugee youth.
GAC has deepened its collaboration with CSOs through dialogue, and the sharing of knowledge and tools on public engagement. In September 2020, GAC established an External Advisory Council on Engaging Canadians as Global Citizens, made of up of thought leaders from Canadian CSOs, private sector and government. In July 2021, GAC also launched the Virtual Engagement Resource Centre for All. Developed in collaboration with CSOs, the Centre is a readily accessible online platform replete with public engagement tools and resources.
Preliminary analysis of the current state of public engagement initiatives within the Department identified some challenges. One of the challenges is how to reach Canadians not currently engaged in international assistance. Global issues are complex, and it is important that Canadians understand that investment in international assistance helps reduce poverty, fosters gender equality around the world and contributes to our own safety and prosperity. While initiatives like the Inter-Council Network and Volunteer Cooperation Program effectively engage interested Canadians, more work is needed to build awareness and understanding among those not already engaged on global issues.
Another challenge is the lack of common understanding of public engagement objectives, outcomes and measures that exists, within the Canadian international assistance sector. As such, it is not easy to tell a compelling story of what public engagement achieves. GAC is working to develop a results framework, with a view to helping partners better measure public engagement efforts.
Opportunities exist to strengthen GAC’s approach to public engagement.
Reports and consultations have suggested that the best way for GAC to help enhance the outcomes and impact of public engagement efforts would be through the development and implementation of an overarching strategy and results framework. GAC is advancing efforts to this end within the Department and will consult broadly with the sector to build a common understanding of public engagement and its best practices.
There is also an opportunity to engage a greater diversity of Canadians in the implementation of the FIAP and pursuit of the SDGs, taking an intersectional and more inclusive approach to public engagement. This could be achieved by increasing engagement with a range of stakeholders to ensure that diverse voices and strengths from across Canada are incorporated.
Objective 9: Promote sustainability, transparency, accountability, and results
Canada is committed to sustainability, transparency and accountability. Access to comprehensive, timely information about international cooperation facilitates the coordination, monitoring and accountability necessary to achieve sustainable results. Canada is committed to being a model publisher and user of open data regarding its activities and results. It also aims to improve access to information about the activities and results of its CSO partners, including those of the local organizations supported by Canadian CSOs. Global Affairs Canada looks to all of its development partners to uphold similar transparency and accountability standards, and increase the impact of Canada’s development investments.
Action area 9.1
Global Affairs Canada will work to identify opportunities to enhance transparency and accountability, including by publishing information on international assistance activities in accordance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard and encouraging the use of IATI data by stakeholders in developing countries
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Enhance reports on Canada’s international assistance, including by exploring more interactive ways to present information
- Improve the information on Canada’s international assistance activities published through for example statistical reports, IATI datasets, the Project Browser, website and social media
- Publish more detailed information on each process on the Calls for Proposals website as appropriate and relevant
- Maintain momentum on implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Improving Effectiveness’ Solution Team on the application processes that contribute to advance transparency related to call for proposal processes (noting that several recommendations are currently implemented or in progress)
- Examine project platforms from other donor countries (e.g. the UK’s Development Tracker, the US’ Foreign Aid Explorer), and develop an innovative, accessible Canadian platform to access project information
- Leverage information from CSO partners in its communications, including social media, to enhance visibility and awareness of Canada’s international assistance results and amplify CSO partners’ contributions, activities and results
- Support the development of skills and tools to facilitate the use of open aid data in partner countries
- Share information on the Task Force on Improving Effectiveness’ through their networks, such as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils for International Cooperation (ICN), and others
Action area 9.2
Global Affairs Canada will work with CSO partners to establish a plan to implement these transparency and accountability standards, including capacity building
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Establish a GAC-CSO working group to develop a concrete approach concerning the implementation of transparency and accountability standards by CSO partners, with a particular focus on IATI. Its deliverables will include specific publishing requirements; means to provide technical support; monitoring approach; good practices and capacity-building needs concerning the implementation of transparency and accountability standards by CSOs, among other items
- Work with the IATI community, including CSO representatives, to reflect the needs of CSOs as publishers and users of data on international assistance in the IATI standard and tools
- Disseminate information, build awareness and increase understanding related to transparency & accountability standards including IATI, including benefits of Canadian CSOs joining the IATI community
Action area 9.3
Global Affairs Canada will invest in policy research, better data collection, including of sex and age disaggregated data, and monitoring and evaluation approaches for gender equality, building on the experiences and best practices of other countries
Global Affairs Canada will:
- Disseminate and promote the use of evaluation and research by periodically hosting or convening knowledge events on current topics of interest related to international development with participation from relevant stakeholders (e.g. researchers, CSOs, private sector)
- Expand outreach efforts for its departmental data strategy to include external organizations such as foreign governments, CSOs, universities, and private sector organisations, in order to promote knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices
- Promote multi-stakeholder partnerships to facilitate learning in the areas of measurement, evaluation and results
Open access to comprehensive, timely information about international cooperation facilitates the coordination, monitoring and accountability necessary to achieve sustainable results. GAC has taken steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the International Assistance Envelope and to enhance its reporting through the Department’s Project Browser and the Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s International Assistance, which includes FIAP Key Performance Indicator data, and the Statistical Report on International Assistance.
Improvements, informed by user testing and research on tools deployed by other donor agencies, are also underway to enhance the usability of the Project Browser. Changes include improved search functionality, clearer display of search results, data export and the ability to share groups of projects. GAC’s open aid data also continues to improve, as confirmed by the score of 80.9% achieved in the Aid Transparency Index 2020 (up from 79.63% in 2018).
GAC has published a rolling 12-month schedule of upcoming calls on its website since July 2021. The schedule, along with ongoing pilots using a concept note in call and unsolicited proposal processes, respond to recommendations from the Task Force on Improving Effectiveness (TaFIE) Solution Team.
A GAC-CSO collaboration, the TaFIE examines ways to simplify and streamline programming processes. Inter-Council Network, Cooperation Canada and regional councils helped maintain momentum on implementing the recommendations of the TaFIE that contribute to increase transparency in call for proposal processes, by sharing information with the sector through websites and newsletters. TAFIE paused during 2020, when GAC convened COVID-specific discussion tables.
GAC reached out to a number of government agencies, universities and CSOs to discuss common challenges and share best practices related to results, performance measurement and data management. GAC recruited data-literate co-op students, and by so doing, built ties with Canadian universities and enhanced the Department’s knowledge, while helping managers learn to hire, manage and retain employees with data literacy skills. GAC presented the departmental Data Strategy and the Results & Delivery Approach at the Evidence for Policymakers international conference organized by Universiteit Leiden and ScienceWorks.
As part of OECD-DAC Results Community, GAC contributed to think pieces by sharing its Architecture for Results of International Assistance approach, and participated in workshops that promote multi-stakeholder partnerships to facilitate learning in the area of results-based management.
In June 2021, GAC and the Global Evaluation Initiative (a partnership co-led by the World Bank and UNDP) co-organized an online learning event for gLOCAL Evaluation Week, focusing on GAC’s feminist evaluation principles and practices evidenced in recent evaluations in Colombia, the Middle East and the Maghreb, and the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program. Of the 154 participants (85% female) from 46 countries, 57% reported perceived increases in technical knowledge, 43% reported increased capacity to support monitoring and evaluation, and 38% reported increased awareness.
The ongoing Formative Evaluation of the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Program is guided by a reference group consisting of GAC staff, implementing partners involved in the WVL program, and women’s rights organizations supported by the Program. These diverse stakeholders from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe, ensure that the evaluation is guided by a participatory feminist approach.
The Department’s capacity to improve the presentation of international assistance information, including in more interactive ways, is constrained by the complexity of integrated information management systems.
As such, for the WVL evaluation, the logistics of coordinating a large, global reference group is challenging due to the management of multiple languages, time zones, levels of experience and varying levels of engagement among members. An additional challenge has been for WROs that already have demanding workloads, participating in yet another initiative has limited appeal. Despite these participation challenges, both WROs and implementing partners have expressed an interest in participating in the evaluation and the learning opportunity that this represents for them.
More sensitization about the scope of the TaFIE and how it engages with CSOs, was constrained by the limited resources CSOs have at their disposal for this type of work.
The Department continues to enhance the Project Browser, improving map functionality and the integration of information about various project components (e.g. partners, sectors).
The reference group of the WVL evaluation provided input into the design of the WVL program evaluation, particularly on evaluation questions, sampling of case study countries, and the knowledge sharing and learning plan for the evaluation. Reference group members will be key partners in operationalizing this plan through various activities to engage internal and external stakeholders. For the GAC evaluation team, this provides an opportunity to shape the evaluation in a way that is useful and relevant for intended users, and to include in the evaluation processes voices that are not usually heard.
Given its success in 2021, the gLocal Evaluation Week is expanding its reach, providing more opportunities to share the information and knowledge derived from GAC’s evaluations. These events can make the Department’s learning available to new audiences with insight into innovative evaluation tools, points of view, and areas of expertise, and can assist the Department in identifying important local interlocutors.
- Summary: Canada’s Policy for Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance – A feminist approach
- Canada’s Policy for Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance – A Feminist Approach
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