CIDSE is the umbrella organization of 17 Catholic European development agencies working together for global justice, among them the Italian Federazione degli Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario (FOCSIV). CIDSE
, together with its members and numerous partners, has been actively present in Paris on the occasion of COP21 both deeply involved in advocacy and also supporting the civil society mobilization for climate justice.
On the occasion of the Climate Conference, Ecojesuit has interviewed CIDSE’s Senior Policy Advisor Ms. Denise Auclair. Ms. Auclair has been working in CIDSE for the last 12 years, after finishing her studies on International Development in Belgium. Previously, she worked for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the US and also in the private sector. She is now part of the qualified and committed team responsible for advocacy in CIDSE.
How do you design the advocacy work of CIDSE?
CIDSE members and partners work through joint actions when designing advocacy strategies that will contribute to change public policies. These advocacy initiatives are also connected with the actual engagements of CIDSE members, in that sense, the campaigns undertaken by CIDSE look to reinforce and to strength the work done by the member organizations. All this is the result of an intense consultation and real teamwork.
Which are the main skills needed for advocacy?
The main skill is, undoubtedly, teamwork; because it is crucial that all the partners come together to define a common strategy; it is not about defining my “own” strategy but “our” strategy; this is not about “me” but about “us”. For an organization like CIDSE this is crucial because we can only move forward if we move jointly with our members and partners. Then, you have to put the right questions; you have to ask to yourself questions as: “How can we get the policy makers to think in a different way precisely in the issues we care about?”
What is the role that Church organizations can play?
It is important that Church organisations raise their voices both to consolidate their partnerships and also to reach the communities advocating for their rights. We need to make much more visible the struggles of the people and we need to show our commitment with them.
A very good example is the work undertaken looking for a EU regulation on conflict minerals. We called the respective Bishop’s Conference to get involved in this issue, asking them to address public statements and standing to confront this shameful violation of human rights. We are operating in a similar way when supporting “Iglesias y minería” that is network, promoted by the Catholic Church in Latin America, formed by organizations that work with communities affected by the extractive industries.
Have you taken special initiatives for COP 21?
We have done a lot of campaigning before COP 21, we have been following the process of the UN Conference on Climate Change, jointly with our member organizations, for many years. But now, during COP 21, we know that we need to put much more pressure on the politicians if we want a deeper change. During the Conference, here in Pares, we have organized several events, jointly with our members, partners and allies. More concretely, CIDSE has exchanged experiences on sustainable lifestyle, to show concrete engagements of our members and partners and also to share initiatives that can make a difference for future.
What do you think has been the impact of the encyclical Laudato si among the development agencies?
First, I would like to say that in the relationship between civil society and the Catholic NGOs, we try to express ourselves as the encyclical proposes, that is, in order to show that there is a moral call to respond both to the demands of sustainability and to the need of greater social justice; we look to join both claims and for this we want to mobilize the people.”
I’m very enthusiastic about Laudato Si; the encyclical is really an important document and a big opportunity. It focuses some of the questions we are working on like the evidence of a deep linkage between environmental degradation and social problems. It is necessary to take decisions for change. Thus, the encyclical gives a new reference to engage in dialogue. I’m convince that Laudato Si’ is already inspiring many initiatives, and will do much more in future, within the catholic communities.
The Ecojesuit Team