Member conversations were an important part of the agenda at the 3rdACT Alliance General Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden. Member conversations allowed participants at the Assembly to spend a significant amount of time learning about and discussing a particular issue facing the alliance. Each conversation brought a recommendation forward to the Assembly.
Three member conversations are summarised below.
Shrinking Space for Civil Society – Our role as churches and ACT members to promote a public space that is safe and just for all.
Over the years there has been an increasing concern over the shrinking of civil society space, reducing opportunities for freely associating, assembling, expressing oneself, and participating in public life. Increased attacks on human right defenders and journalists are also concerns. In this conversation, members explored the role of the church and faith-based actors to advocate for access to safe and inclusive public spaces.
ACT members recommended that an Advisory Group on shrinking space for civil society is created. A designated space to discuss this topic would allow members to share their tools, approaches and best practises for an increased collaboration with other networks working on this issue. The group suggested that increasing the capacity of members to address disinformation campaigns and advocating for rights-based approaches to protect the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly would be an important contribution to ongoing efforts to protect civil society spaces.
Principles of Partnership – Are steady, faithful and loving partnerships possible between members of ACT Alliance?
Partnerships are fundamental to the identity and future of the alliance. In the conversation, members reflected on the partnerships between members of ACTAlliance. They noted the varying perspectives and priorities within the alliance. Some of the specific concerns that were raised included competition between members, access to information and resources.
The group acknowledged the importance of engaging together across different contexts so that partnerships are dynamic and creative, affirming each other’s values and contributions. The group concluded with a recommendation to create ‘safe spaces’ at the forum level as a way forward.
Private sector accountability – towards a shared understanding of its role in development and humanitarian response
This conversation explored the issue of private sector accountability and engagement from the various perspectives and experiences of ACT members.
Members recognised the role of the private sector as a development actor and the need to explore the challenges or potentials for cooperation. Members noted that on the one hand, institutional donors are increasingly looking to the private sector for development funds, and on the other, there is a shift towards emphasising the Sustainable Development Goals, including access to fair wages and human rights.
Members recommended that ACT develop learning spaces for members and partners at the country and regional level that will encourage learning, exchange, and cooperation on this topic to ensure effective engagement with the private sector. Members further noted that they must continue to develop and collect good practises for working with the private sector while continuing to confront the private sector on issues related to human rights.
Other member conversations included:
- New ways of working – strengthening the intentional nexus between ACT’s humanitarian, development and advocacy mandates.
- Youth Participation – How can ACT make a step change in enabling youth participation across the work of the alliance?
- Duty of Care – Putting people first in our work: how do we keep our staff safe, our programming effective and our alliance engaged where we are needed most?
- A Forum Driven Alliance – How does it look and what does it feel like?