In focus: CPDE’s partnership with the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS)

In Fiji, CPDE’s support in terms of capacity building, monitoring and participation in policy spaces such as that at the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) has been instrumental in catalysing work in public finance, localisation in humanitarian financing and response, national and regional trade discussions, and overall development discourse.

Since the 2019 VNR, Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) efforts to work closer with CSOs and the Fijian government to ensure better coordination across various development sectors have significantly increased. FCOSS has taken up projects on public finance management and have used our experience from 2019 VNR to try and improve how communities and CSOs are engaging across various development sectors with the relevant government agencies and ensuring better outcomes for grassroots communities.

CPDE contributed to FCOSS participation at country level by supporting the work on Human Rights monitoring at the community level, and through the GPEDC third monitoring round support which enabled FCOSS to bring in affiliates and begin discourse on EDC monitoring at sub-national level. A lot of the learning from CPDE work was directed into Public Finance Management work with PIANGO – the regional CPDE secretariat for the Pacific – and this is now into the second year of implementation. The work with CPDE is linked to localising humanitarian assistance which has continued with the support of PIANGO and the Australian Humanitarian Partnership consortium of Plan International Australia and Childfund Australia.

In terms of organisational efforts in influencing local, national and regional development actors’ behaviors, in 2021, Fiji CSOs were able to present concrete budget submissions directly to the Minister for Finance through a 2 hours virtual consultation process and Q&A session. This is significant as there had been no pre-National Budget Announcement consultations in the last 15 years. After that, FCOSS was asked to help organise a dialogue between the Fiji Govt, CSOs and UN Forum on humanitarian response coordination. This discussion was attended by Australian and New Zealand government representatives, the country’s biggest donors. Further, FCOSS helped plan and organise the country-level consultation on a regional development pathway called the Pacific 2050 strategy and later engaged in regional level discussions. Amongst other priorities, the need for better EDC monitoring and coordination was advocated in this arena.

In this context, the support of CPDE towards FCOSS participation in VNR at the UN and other advocacy events in NY have contributed to building traction around our national CSO messages[U2] . This helped change the attitudes/perceptions of Pacific governments and international NGOs who are direct partners in FCOSS’ work. Working indirectly has had its positive impacts where these partners are beginning to share civil society’s advocacy messages in negotiation spaces with development actors. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement as Covid-19 caused a regression of these gains.

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