December 4, 2017

Civil society comes together around “Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our Future”

Being hosted in Suva, Fiji from 4-8 December, International Civil Society Week (ICSW), brings together 400 leading organisations and activists to share ideas about some of the biggest issues in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development.
Small island states like Fiji are facing critical threats from climate change, holding ICSW 2017 in the Pacific provides an ideal forum for civil society to meet and discuss climate and social justice, and allow civil society delegates from around the world to see the frontlines in the global fight against climate change.

Suva, Fiji. 2017 – Across the globe, we are seeing governments increasingly attacking human rights NGOs. Environmental defenders are being murdered in record numbers. An unprecedented rise of populist leaders is eroding fundamental freedoms. And small island nations face rising oceans, extreme weather and untold hardship as the impacts of climate change deepen.
We are in the midst of unprecedented global challenges.
According to the CIVICUS Monitor, only 2% of the world’s population live in places where rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are truly respected and protected.  Our planet and its bio-diversity is under serious threat, with small islands states and some of the world’s most excluded populations among those already suffering the very real effects of climate change.
More than 400 leading activists from across the globe will come together in Suva, Fiji from 4-8 December for International Civil Society Week 2017, to share ideas and propose common solutions around some of the biggest challenges in the fields of human rights, democracy and international development, including climate change. ICSW 2017 is being co-hosted by the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS and the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) under the theme “Our Planet. Our Struggles. Our Future”.
"It’s an honour to have the privilege to co-host this event; to be able to bring this (ICSW) to the Pacific to show the world what we’re about, and to be a part of re-energising all involved in managing or negotiating the challenging civic spaces we all operate in,” says PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga. “The Pacific (CSO) community recognises the wonderful opportunity before us; to be able to engage with our peers from all over the world, to share experiences, to learn from each other and to broaden and foster relations.
A programme featuring over 60 events organised by 30 event partners will explore and enable the latest trends - from technology to climate justice, as well as a celebration of innovations that can help empower and mobilise citizens.

This is the first time that the global event is being hosted in the Pacific, providing an ideal forum for civil society to meet and discuss climate and social justice. It comes just two weeks after the close of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, and following the UN Oceans Conference in New York earlier this year, (both co-hosted by Fiji).

“The Pacific region has a vibrant and diverse civil society, well known globally for its efforts on banning nuclear weapons and protecting our oceans,” says Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. “But, the peoples of the Pacific, like those in other small island states, now have to tackle the devastating impacts of climate change alongside other development challenges.”
With our planet and its bio-diversity facing critical threats, it is often excluded people that face the most severe and unjust consequences. Innovation and good practice are vital to realising environmental sustainability, the Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030.

“We can no longer afford to treat climate action and sustainable development as two distinct agendas to be pursued in tandem,” adds Sriskandarajah. “Well-designed policies and actions to reduce emissions and enhance resilience to climate disruptions can deliver broad sustainable development benefits. Similarly, advancing progress towards the SDGs can contribute to climate impact mitigation and adaptation.”

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, UN Women, Oxfam Pacific, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, International Civil Society Centre are among the many organisations that will be taking part in the week. 

ICSW 2017 begins on December 4 with the CIVICUS Youth Assembly, which gathers  young leaders from across the world to debate solutions for poverty, inequality and climate change impacting youth, and how to engage with the global Sustainable Development Goals. The public ICSW 2017 programme then runs from 5-6 December. It is followed by the CIVICUS World Assembly on December 7, featuring key international speakers including Dave Archambault, Former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline in the US; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Envoy; Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, UNDP Administrator and Candidate for UN Secretary-General in 2016.

The Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Awards, now in its 12th year, honours the work of outstanding activists and organisations and will be presented during the World Assembly programme with awards for Youth Activists, Individual Activists, Civil Society Organisations and Brave Philanthropy.