TUDCN General Meeting, 20-22 June 2011

The General Meeting of TUDCN in June 2011 in Brussels was the first of four General Meetings in the coming two years of the second TUDCN project. It was an opportunity to summarize the achievements of the TUDCN I and discuss the current issues of the network, including the policy approach for the HLF in Busan, capacity building in the network and the upcoming events.

This meeting was the first General Meeting of the TUDCN II project, which has been approved by the European Commission. The final report (narrative, financial and audit) of the TUDCN I project for the last two years (2009-2010) was summarized in a form of a presentation at the beginning of the first day of the meeting.

Further that day, Nina Larrea (LO/TCO Sweden), P. Haridasan (ITUC AP), Kjeld Jakobsen (TUCA) and Adrien Akouete (ITUC AF) shared the news from the developments in the regions, at national level and in the GUFs. The main conclusion was that there is a notion of an increased cohesion between the ITUC and the Regional Organisations on Development Cooperation but a further strengthening is however needed. The Regional Organisations are also expected to discuss and adopt the “Trade Union Principles and Guidelines on Development Effectiveness”, which were approved at the previous ITUC General Council in February 2011.

In Istanbul, the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC) was organised from the 9th until the 13th of May 2011. Mamadou Diallo, who led the ITUC delegation, gave a short report. The outcomes were disappointing as the number of LDC has increased. The ITUC was however highly visible as part of the civil society. Mr. Baglio, who spoke later at the General Meeting, underlined that the European Commission will strive to give an adequate response to the recommendations made in Budapest.

In the light of the preparation to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in November 2011 in Busan, two working groups were formed in the morning of the second day to discuss the role of the private sector in development cooperation. The main conclusions developed from the working groups were the following: it is necessary to clarify what is exactly meant by the private sector (limit this sector to only for-profit), to clarify what is necessary for the developing countries and not for the private sector, to develop standards and mechanisms to have some control on this sector and that this topic (with reference to public-private partnerships) is certainly not new. The goal of this preparation is that trade unions need to find a point of engagement with employers on this topic. These conclusions will be taken to the next TUDCN Policy Working Group, 9-12 September 2011 in Montreal, where the trade union positions and lobby strategies for the HLF in Busan will be the main topic.

One of the highlights on the second day of the meeting was the presence of Mr Angelo Baglio, the Head of the Non-state Actors unit of the European Commission. He underlined the results of the Structured Dialogue and commented on the current evolutions. Mr Baglio stressed the importance of the mobilisation of the civil society for development as well as of the participatory approach in development practice. Concerning the current evolutions, he argued that the changes in development cooperation frameworks need more attention and highlighted that fewer funds for aid are available on the international level. Furthermore, there is a noticeable evolution from global projects to country projects. Mr. Baglio stressed the notion of “membership based organisations” (the EC will only work with member based organisations) as well as the issue of representation, through governments and parliaments (which are however less focused on development cooperation than civil societies). According to Mr Baglio, the main issues and conclusions shared by all participants of the Structured Dialogue are the following: working to an enabling environment for the CSOs; moving towards a multi-actor approach which is more horizontal and local/territorial and highlighting the importance of the role of national governments, who need to be sitting in the driving seat; aid effectiveness via democratic ownership and alignment; accountability of governments and actors in civil society, towards their constituency; the right of initiative of the different actors; and the need to diversify tools for providing development assistance.

In the afternoon of the second day, Jan Dereymaeker provided a presentation on capacity development activities. After this introduction, two working groups were formed to reflect on how capacity development and capacity building can be improved in reality. The main conclusions were that improved background information is crucial and a more regional approach is necessary, but that the need for capacity building is a persisting challenge.

At the end of the second day, FNV (represented by Corrie Roeper and Mario van de Luijtgaarden) highlighted briefly the need for new funding resources. A number of ideas were shared like the introduction of support to workers in development cooperation in Collective Agreements, specialised cooperation between union in the same industry branch, but also broad fundraising (by leaving the choice to the donors).

On the third day of the meeting the plan of the TUDCN activities for 2011-2012 was presented. The most important upcoming events in 2011 are the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan (29 November – 1 December) and the next General TUDCN Meeting in Florence (12-14 December).
In 2012, the RIO+20 summit will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 4 to 6 June. This last event was briefly presented by Alison Tate (External relation ITUC) and Anabella Rosemberg (Policy Advisor ITUC and TUAC). The main topics at the RIO+20 Rio+20 Rio+20 was a UN conference of the highest possible level, including the heads of state and government or other high-level representatives. It was coordinated by UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA). Rio+20 was a follow up of two important events: the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. The conference took place 20 to 22 June 2012 and was accompanied by a number of side events (People’s Summit, Dialogue Days, Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment, etc.). One of the outputs of Rio+20 was the Sustainable Development Goals. meeting will be green economy and governance of sustainable development. The upcoming events are also listed in a separate box in the newsletter.

The full report is already available on our website.