Lafede.cat, thirty years on and tireless
Wed, 27/11/2019 - 15:33
Entity. Lafede.cat are marking 30 years of joint struggles by Catalan NGOs with a campaign about global justice.
Catalonia’s first federation of NGOs started life 30 years ago with the name Federació d’ONG de Desenvolupament, later merging with human rights and peace NGOs. The federation has spent 30 years defending the rights of people in faraway countries, as well as in our own country when needed; 30 years of thinking about and rethinking cooperation, international relations and awareness in Catalan society; 30 years of causes, calling on administrations for more resources, as well as changes of perspective and focus for public policies. These years of evolution are now highlighted in a poignant celebratory campaign, the perfect excuse to keep calling for a new paradigm, for real change in public policies and awareness among Catalans about global relations: #Noserveixderes si no és justícia global (It’s pointless if it’s not global justice).
‘#Noserveixderes si no és justícia global’ is a bold campaign. Questioning the intentions of the administration (just when ‘big’ cooperation budgets have been approved), the solidarity of the Catalan people and even the effectiveness of volunteer work is not exactly a comfortable stance, less still in a celebratory campaign which could easily have fallen into self-complacency.
Lafede.cat and its member organisations have shown that there is no absolute truth, that the concepts and values holding up international cooperation need to keep being reviewed and debated. One example was the debate over fair-trade seals and whether they harmed the purity of the movement or not. Another was when supposed ‘cooperation’ measures by states started getting called out and were denounced as investment and the buying of favours from poor countries. Another was when it was made clear that our consumption causes wars, conflicts and environmental damage.
Ultimately, as a network of over 117 very diverse organisations, Lafede.cat has not always had it easy to coordinate renewed approaches and reach consensus. Yet the federation has now become consolidated under the umbrella of ‘global justice’, which leaves behind partial visions of interconnected realities that don’t need partial solutions, but rather global changes.
The cooperation sector currently has some highly-qualified and committed people
‘Eix de Migracions’ as an example of networking
The thirty-year history of Lafede.cat is also about the history of the NGOs that belong to it, many of them dating back further still, and others which are much younger. Naturally, they are very different and have different missions, but with some common elements, such as the combination of activism, volunteers and professionals. They all form part of a sector that currently has some highly-qualified and committed people, who provide support for different groups and devise awareness campaigns to stir people’s consciousnesses. The federation streamlines joint work through seven areas: humanitarian aid and social emergencies, communication for social change, cooperation on the ground, education for social justice, political and social influence and, finally, training and research.
Topics are grouped into culture of peace, human rights, feminism, interculturality and economic, social and environmental sustainability. We also find over thirty sub-topics which are constantly being redefined, such as the ‘Eix de Migracions’ (migration axis), which the federation’s communications chief Montse Santolino describes as “currently forming part of the strategic plan as a central theme of global justice. It is made up of twenty entities but has opened up for migrant collectives and entities to take part, allowing for the development of a discourse and shared priorities. The Eix de Migracions is one of the initiatives which best reflects the evolution of the way organisations work, more comprehensive and complex”.
Santolino explains: “This axis has its origins in the so-called refugee crisis in 2014-2015, when the federation set up a working group specialising in refuge. Over time it decided to broaden the focus and talk of the right to mobility”.
Ultimately, a clear example of the vision that Lafede.cat has worked with over the last thirty years is the way the focus has been expanded to see problems from a global perspectives and not just as occasional aid needs for migrants.