NGOs in Saxony Exchange Ideas on International Development Cooperation

  • 2020/12/12     Dresden, Germany

    Image: Vienybe/

    By Eric Siegmund and Thiago Elert Soares

    Civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are key contributors to international development cooperation activities in Saxony. Efforts to advance their work and address operational and structural challenges could benefit from collaborating with the public sector, local networks, and other key actors across the development landscape including international organisations. In this regard, cooperation within and across institutional boundaries and knowledge diffusion efforts can strengthen NGOs’ position in the development sector and harness their potential to contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Within the context of the research project “Advancement of Developmental Policy Cooperation between NGOs in Saxony”, funded by the Saxon State Chancellery and developed by UNU-FLORES in partnership with the Entwicklungspolitisches Netzwerk Sachsen e.V. (ENS), an online workshop on the development cooperation work of NGOs in Saxony was held on 9 November 2020. Speakers included Prof. Edeltraud Guenther, Director of UNU-FLORES; Prof. Dorothea Greiling, Professor and Member of the Board of Directors, Institute for Management Accounting at Johannes Kepler University Linz; and Dorothea Trappe, Managing Director of ENS. Besides UNU-FLORES, ENS, and the Saxon State Chancellery as project partners, 26 participants from civil society and the public sector engaged in the event, including representatives from the Global South.

    In the short-term, the project aims to generate and disseminate knowledge, as well as develop capacities of local government officials, academics, and members of the private sector in regard to the structure and content of NGOs’ engagement in international development cooperation in Saxony. In the medium and long-term, the project’s objective is to strengthen the engagement of NGOs in related initiatives.

    After the introductory remarks from the organisers, workshop participants briefly introduced themselves and formed three working groups to discuss several questions in greater detail. Topics on opportunities and challenges, project evaluation processes, and financial resources for development cooperation work in Saxony generated the most interest. Participants identified the lack of financial resources, personnel, and knowledge as main obstacles to successfully draft funding proposals and perform their work more effectively. Moreover, representatives raised concerns about the level of engagement and participation of the youth in NGO activities and shared their experiences and best practices on how to face common difficulties. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added further challenges to the work of NGOs in Saxony.

    By strengthening their current and future engagement in development cooperation work, the project supports initiatives conducted by these voluntary organisations in different areas related directly and indirectly to the SDGs, including fair trade and sustainability, environmental protection and social justice, and human rights. Furthermore, many NGOs in Saxony currently promote or aim to contribute to international development cooperation initiatives in countries of the Global South, to support local communities and empower vulnerable populations.

    Experiences, ideas, and opinions shared during the workshop contributed to the study’s data collection process and are an essential part of the final project report. The analysis is expected to highlight the challenges and opportunities to foster international development cooperation efforts undertaken by NGOs in Saxony, and to produce results and recommendations that inform and influence policymaking at the regional, national, and international level.