At the end of March, members of the Advocacy Hub came together in Brussels for the first Advocacy Forum of 2022. This occasion was the first time the Forum was held simultaneously with the EU-CORD General Assembly. As a result, the Forum provided a unique opportunity for members to interact and learn from others and define the next steps of the Hub’s strategy.
During the Forum, members had the chance to attend a session with three excellent speakers focused on EU-Africa relations. The speakers were Luisa Fondello, International Cooperation Officer at Caritas Europa; Pauline Veron, Policy Officer EU Foreign Development Policy at ECDPM and Alemayehu E. Tedla, Accountable Governance Lead Oxfam Addis Ababa. The session sought to provide members with an understanding of the implications of the EU-AU Summit held in February and future advocacy opportunities for civil society organisations. The session was modelled around an informal panel discussion where the speakers were asked probing questions by the facilitator regarding different facets of the EU-Africa partnership. The ensuing discussion focused on whether this is really a partnership of two equal players and how organisations can take advantage of what lies ahead.
A second session focused on members’ understanding of the agile advocacy approach and its application in practice. The approach is based on the discussion outcomes of the December 2021 Advocacy Forum, and it aims to encourage and support a more robust member-led approach where individual members or coalitions of members and their national implementing partners are supported in their advocacy efforts.
Thirdly, members were offered a session on building network capacity to lobby MEPs and engage with the European Parliament, a flagship project for this year. Part 1 of the session began with a presentation by Hana Sedláčková, the DEVE committee administrator at European Parliament. Ms Sedláčková provided a detailed explanation of the practical workings of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development and engaged in a robust Q&A session. Part 2 of the session was a plenary discussion amongst members on the potential topics and opportunities for engagement with the Parliament. Though there were several topics of interest, members identified and agreed on pursuing education and disability inclusion as the flagship topics for parliamentary engagement this year.
In the lead up to the Advocacy Forum, we also participated in the Africa-Europe week Civil Society Forum held on 15 February, which the Commissions’ Directorate General of International Partnerships organised in recent months. In addition, in the build-up to the EU-Africa Leaders summit, we ran a collaborative social media initiative in conjunction with Caritas EU and Act Alliance EU. This campaign highlighted how the EU’s opposition to the WTO TRIPS waiver was the antithesis of the partnership between the two regions.