Below you can read about the results we reached in our operations
and what 2016 meant for Forum Syd as an organisation
Forum Syd supported a total of 113 local organisation through nine programmes via its country offices. Operational costs for Forum Syd’s development co-operation programmes via offices in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe amounted to SEK 76.8 million. These programmes were financed mainly by Sida departments (not Sida Civsam) and/or the EU and by overseas government agencies/embassies, and other organisations.
In Belarus, Forum Syd works with the Belarus Grants Management Program, as well as two thematic programmes in Environment and Democracy and Human Rights. The Environment programme achieved notable successes during 2016. The local partner Green Network has grown to become the largest environmental organisation in Belarus. The organisation’s communication with the government resulted in the participation of civil society representatives at the Paris climate negotiations. Seen from a methodological point of view, the programme has highlighted how to successfully support civil society in closed societies. Advocacy within the Democracy and Human Rights programme has contributed to the implementation of laws that protect the rights of disabled people, amongst others. The Belarus Grant Management Program has meant that the office in Belarus has taken over the responsibility for development cooperation programmes and sub-granting from the office in Stockholm. This process has been successful despite certain challenges.
In Cambodia, Forum Syd conducts two programmes, one financed by Sida, (Increasing democratic processes and rights related to sustainable management of natural resources), and one by the MAC Foundation (Community leadership in conservation and natural resource management in Cambodia). Within the Sida-financed programme, activities have contributed to legislation that has empowered marginalised groups’ right to land and access to natural resources. Through the MAC Foundation programme, support to local organisations has enabled the development and protection of natural conservation areas and eco systems with connections to water. The programme has also strengthened local organisations’ ability to sustainable livelihoods and increased their co-operation with decision-makers.
The office in Colombia runs a peace-building programme through the EU-financed programme Nuevos Territorios de Paz. This programme has improved local peace-building organisations’ capacity in project implementation and advocacy, and resulted in Forum Syd being perceived as a key actor for civil society support.
In Kenya, Forum Syd works with the Wajibu Wetu programme that combines support for local media and cultural organisations together with women’s rights actors. The programme seeks to further gender mainstreaming in political agendas at the local and national level. During the year, participating organisations have improved the representation of women at the local level and contributed to the implementation of a rule that facilitates women’s access to key governmental positions.
Forum Syd has supported the Somali diaspora for a considerable amount of time. In 2015, Forum Syd’s support was expanded into a programme with the purpose of promoting the Swedish-Somali diaspora’s work for civil society participation in decision-making processes and sustainable development in Somalia. During the year, Forum Syd developed methods and routines to assist applicant organisations. The increased presence in Somalia through the opening of two new offices has improved the monitoring of supported activities as well as the capacity development for local partners.
During 2016, the Swedish Somalia Business Programme (SSBP) was launched. This is an innovative programme between Forum Syd and Business Sweden with the purpose of supporting businesses and private sector development in Somalia from a rights-based perspective. The goal is to create job opportunities and strengthen the women’s and young people’s opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. During 2016, the programme’s structure was developed further and an initial application process consisting of more than 60 businesses was completed. The programme also conducted a marketing campaign that included, for example, the launch of ssbp.nu and information meetings in five Swedish cities.
Forum Syd’s Sustainable Development Programme implemented Right(s) Way Forward processes in six different countries during 2016. Fourteen community teams have been trained and conducted workshops, which has produced 12 community action plans for sustainable development. Tem RWF instructors have also been trained.
Forum Syd manages a network for democratic development in Eastern Europe that during the year secured funding from Sida (until December 31, 2019). The network expanded to 20 Swedish civil society organisations that together participate in partnerships and advocacy focusing on Eastern Europe.
During 2016, we distributed SEK 195 million to 239 projects, of which SEK 23 million were distributed to 42 rights-based information projects. The grants were distributed amongst 146 Swedish organisations and of which fifty-one organisations were members in Forum Syd. The sub-granting of funds was financed by Sida Civsam, Sida Partnership Forum, the embassy in Kenya, Sida Europe and the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR). These operations have been conducted in co-operation with local civil society organisation in 65 countries.
Forum Syd is an important voice in the debate on global sustainable development. We advocate for change that contribute to a just and sustainable world. Here is an overview of the advocacy work we engaged in during 2016.
Forum Syd investigates the effects of coal mining on local communities in Colombia, mainly at the Cerrejón mine. During 2016, Forum Syd has published the report As Black as Coal, which also included an investigation of the Swedish company Vattenfall’s purchase of coal from Colombia. The dialogue with Vattenfall deepened throughout 2016 and Forum Syd participated in Vattenfall’s seminar and round table during the Almedalen political week. Forum Syd’s work contributed to Vattenfall initiating a mapping of human rights risks in relation to their operations, and planning for an independent assessment visit to Colombia regarding their coal import.
A dialogue with the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation was initiated and Forum Syd was invited to the Ministry to discuss the report’s conclusion regarding state-owned companies.
Capital flight – increased support for tax transparency
In 2016, Forum Syd launched the Capital flight – the World’s Problem and Survival of the Richest reports, which investigate Sweden and EU’s actions against capital flight. Both reports have been discussed by members of the Swedish parliament, for example at a seminar that Forum Syd organised. Through the Eurodad network, Forum Syd has continued to push for increased transparency regarding country-by-country reporting and public beneficial ownership. As a result of collaborative efforts there has been increased support for transparency in tax issues in the EU.
Forum Syd’s work on capital flight and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) led to Forum Syd being invited to a meeting with the Swedish Tax Agency, which during the year suggested actions for companies to view tax as a sustainability issue.
Last year, the Swedish government launched a new policy framework on development co-operation.
Forum Syd, together with our members, provided the government with several consultation responses in the preparation of the framework. We appreciate the open and participatory process the government adopted, and that the framework includes important rights-based perspectives as well as linkages to important international agreements.
Representatives from the Stop Mad Mining project hand over the petition to EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Photo: CIR
In a petition for a binding European law against conflict minerals, Forum Syd and 11 other European organisations gathered 42 000 signatures that were handed over to the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. The advocacy by European civil society organisations contributed to making the final agreement more ambitious than the European Commission’s initial proposal and an important first step.
Manne Wängborg and Lisa Sjöblom in Almedalen. Photo: Mia Hedelius, Forum Syd
At Almedalen, Forum Syd organised a well-attended seminar to discuss the worrying trend of shrinking democratic space for civil society globally, and how civil society organisations can come together to find new and innovative ways to co-operate in these changing environments. Civil society organisations, who work to promote human rights, equality and diversity, play an important role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and restrictions against these organisations therefore constitute a threat to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rhoda Elmi and Abukar Omarsson at Forum Syd’s seminar in Almedalen. Photo: Mia Hedelius, Forum Syd
Forum Syd and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) co-arranged a seminar on how migration contributes to sustainable development globally, and particularly the effects of migration from Somalia on Swedish development policy. At the seminar Rhoda Elmi and Abukar Omarsson, who both originate from Somalia, gave their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges authorities, civil society and the private sector should be aware of in efforts to rebuild the country.
In 2016, Forum Syd produced an educational film about human rights and how we work to fulfil them. What role do civil society organisations play, and how can we ensure our work contributes to change?
The film explains the different actors Forum Syd works with through its Theory of Change. The film is an informative tool for our members and applicant organisations on the different types of change rights-based projects contribute to, and how we evaluate projects according to our Results Model.
Forum Syd has continued working on simplifying the applicant process for organisations. A new guide for implementation and reporting was released in 2016 and Forum Syd’s guide on project planning was translated into five languages. Both guides are used in Forum Syd’s courses and are available online. This means that Forum Syd now offers a complete set of instructions for all phases of a rights-based project. This in turn has strengthened the link with courses – both physical and on Forum Syd’s e-Learning platform LINGO – that are offered to applicant organisations.
Forum Syd’s training courses aim to build a stronger civil society by developing the capacity of applicant organisations, member organisations and staff. The courses we offer focus on rights-based work, organisational development, follow-up and evaluation, IT and project management. As indicated above, participants are able to engage through physical courses or through Forum Syd’s e-Learning platform LINGO. By engaging in courses, participants can also share experiences and network. In 2016, Forum Syd has expanded our selection, both physical and digital. Previously, the Sweden and Kenya offices worked with the e-Learning platform, but last year the e-Learning project expanded to Forum Syd’s Colombia office where preparations have been made to conduct e-Learning courses in Spanish.
Forum Syd is a religiously and politically unaffiliated not-for-profit aid organisation that consists of 149 members. Our members are Swedish civil society organisations that all work to make a global difference and share Forum Syd’s vision of global justice and sustainable development.
Forum Syd work all over the world. Offices are located in Sweden, Kenya, Cambodia, Colombia, Belarus (office located in Vilnius) and Somalia.
Forum Syd’s work centres on enabling people to organise to claim their rights and take control over their lives. It is only then that democracy can grow, resources can be distributed more fairly, and poverty can be reduced.
Forum Syd’s operations are divided into four closely interacting and mutually dependent areas that give the organisation its unique width and competence as well as legitimacy and a financial base:
Going Glocal is an organisational change that Forum Syd is conducting to improve the results and co-ordination of Forum Syd’s development co-operation and external communication, and increase member value. During 2016, Forum Syd has realised several projects and sub-processes under Going Glocal. Some of the projects have analysed parts of Forum Syd’s operations to identify challenges and solutions, in for example sub-granting, external communication, support processes, and thematic advice. Others have focused on running pilot projects for decentralising programme administration and project support to the offices in Kenya and Colombia. The conclusions from the projects were used in the work of developing Forum Syd’s new organisational structure. The staffing process was completed in December and the new organisation was implemented January 1, 2017. Important changes have been made in the division of responsibility between Forum Syd’s departments, including managerial positions.
During the year, Forum Syd initiated a process of developing the organisation’s strategy. This has resulted in a mapping of potential locations for Forum Syd to open a strategic office and new goals in the plan for operations for 2018-22. The new goals aim to concentrate the focus for how Forum Syd will work with its Policy platform. Main conclusions in the strategic work have been to strengthen Forum Syd’s role as a civil society platform and to increase co-operation with the member organisations. Strengthening civil society’s role in contributing to democracy and human rights is seen as Forum Syd’s main task in the new strategy. This means an increased focus on issues like shrinking space, the role of civil society in implementing the 2030, CSO development effectiveness and global aid policy. Forum Syd also strives to strengthen its work with innovation and especially investigate the area of “Migration and Development”. The work with gender and sustainable use of natural resources will continue but as central development perspectives. The board has also discussed strategic presence and decided during the fall that Bangladesh is the next location for Forum Syd to open a strategic hub.
During 2016, 13 organisations left Forum Syd and an additional three were expelled after defaulting on their membership fees. Ten new organisations joined during the year and the total number of members at the end of 2016 was 149.
The overall plan for crisis management has been updated and staff at all offices have been trained in security. Forum Syd’s Cambodia, Colombia and Somalia offices implemented safety plans according to Forum Syd’s standards, and investments in IT-security were made at all country offices. All staff attended an introduction in anti-corruption and the development of an internal whistle-blowing system was initiated. In Somalia, two new offices were opened: one in Garowe in January and one in Mogadishu in June.
Forum Syd had 103 employees at the end of 2016: 59 per cent were women and 41 per cent were men.
Forum Syd’s environmental footprint is primarily generated by travel. Forum Syd’s guidelines therefore promote sustainable transport. During 2016, Forum Syd booked 125 return trips, of which 76 were by air, corresponding to total CO2 emissions of 91,372 kg. All emissions are climate neutral due to offsetting in energy projects in developing countries. Most other journeys were made by train.
The Stockholm office purchases environmentally labelled electricity (Bra Miljöval) and organic (KRAV) and Fair Trade tea and coffee. The office is cleaned by an environmentally certificated company, (the Swan label), and hires a packaging recycling service that is environmentally certified (Bra Miljöval). Paper consumption amounted to some 190,000 sheets during the year.
Every year, Forum Syd analyses risks that might impact the achievements of its operational goals. Risks are assessed based on their probability and the seriousness of potential consequences. Procedures for managing each risk are then planned. During 2016, identified risks concerned, for example financing, corruption, safety- and credibility issues, and Forum Syd’s organisational changes. Managing the risk of corruption has included an internal audit project and an anti-corruption policy. Forum Syd has worked to diversify the donor portfolio to mitigate financial restrictions and vulnerability. Coherent routines for open communication have been one of the actions taken to manage risks regarding the organisational changes.
During 2016, Forum Syd’s income before financial items amounted to SEK 323.2 million. This is an increase of SEK 50.6 million (18.6 per cent) compared to 2015.
During the year, Forum Syd has worked to increase the diversity of funding sources. Applications were made to Sida, the EU, the Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Asian Development Bank. Half of these applications had been approved at the time of printing.
Total costs before financial items amounted to SEK 321.6 million. Of this, operational costs accounted for SEK 302.5 million, of which the largest part (64.4 per cent) comprised grants to other CSOs in Sweden.
Forum Syd’s office in Tanzania closed in 2015 due to lack of funding after suspicions over mismanagement. Sida conducted an investigation that identified a number of internal control weaknesses. After the review, Forum Syd presented material in most cases where this was previously missing. Sida conducted a further investigation and decided to reclaim funding of SEK 1.9 million. After Forum Syd disputed the amount, it was lowered to 1,3 SEK million, which Forum Syd then in protest agreed to repay in order to maintain a constructive relationship with Sida and avoid lengthy and costly court negotiations. Forum Syd took several measures to ensure that other country offices did not have the same internal control errors as the Tanzania office. An internal audits project was initiated in 2015 and completed during 2016. All country offices now have been reviewed and have integrated effective measures in their everyday work procedures.
Forum Syd’s new organisation was implemented January 1, 2017. A one-year extension agreement with Sida Civsam (SEK 210 million), and a one-year agreement regarding bridging funding of information and communication activities with Sida Partnership Forum (SEK 29, 686 million) were signed. During 2017, Forum Syd will apply to Sida Civsam and Sida Partnership Forum for the period 2018-2022 and prepare the implementation of the strategic goals for the same period. The office in Stockholm will move to new premises in June.