Minister Ploumen has published the list of organisations she has selected for strategic partnerships with Foreign Affairs. These partnerships are aimed at strengthening their capacity for advocacy and increase their influence on policies for sustainable and inclusive economic development. SOMO had submitted two joint proposals, one with the FGG Alliance and another one with Oxfam Novib, both of which have been selected for further outlining.
The selected partners have been invited to engage with the Ministry in an ongoing process of dialogue and dissent. Their contributions should serve to amplify the voice of groups that strive to defend human rights, a fair distribution of wealth and equitable power relations. SOMO fulfils this role by means of its research activities, and also by organising joint projects to improve the policies espoused by governments, international organisations and businesses. At the same time, SOMO informs and trains local groups so that they can benefit from these policies and improve their access to justice. Whether it is in decision-making processes in the field of mining in Africa, or in demands for compensation following a disaster in a factory.
SOMO is very motivated to continue its existing work within the FGG Alliance. In the past we already contributed to changes in the area of corporate accountability, trade and investments, and in financial sector reform. The alliance is also characterised by a style of cooperation based on networks and knowledge-building. The different members of the alliance fulfil various complementary roles. This opens up many avenues, both at a local level and on the international scene, to increase public ownership in policy-making.
Strong international partner
Regarding the partnership with Oxfam Novib, SOMO is very motivated to continue their well established cooperation. Through the years we have achieved improvements to policies and practices in the area of CSR, tax justice, banks and food supply chains. And the partnership will also start focusing on fragile states. It is important for SOMO to work strategically alongside such a strong international partner. As the ‘GROW’ and ‘Inequality’ campaigns showed, Oxfam is an important player that can place issues on the agenda; and it is also an influential partner vis-à-vis governments and corporations.
Painful funding cuts
In addition to the possibilities that emerge from the Ministry’s policy, the effects of the upcoming round of cuts on development cooperation are also becoming painfully apparent. The impact of the funding cuts in the cultural and healthcare sectors is already clearly visible, and it is beginning to be felt also to a great extent in the field of development work, where the budgets available to NGOs have shrunk drastically. These cuts are in fact wiping out a great deal of knowledge, capacity and infrastructure. The focus on advocacy and policy change is a good first step, but on its own, it will be insufficient. Foreign Affairs aspires to strengthen civil society, but this will require resources. We therefore call on minister Ploumen to follow the example of other countries and not to reduce the budget for effective development cooperation, but instead to increase it.
The FGG Alliance is comprised of SOMO and the following partners: TNI, Action Aid, Clean Clothes Campaign, Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Both ENDS (leading organisation).