We are proud to present our 2015 Annual Report. It has been a dynamic year for Hivos. Internally, because it was a year of transition from a Dutch development organisation that was mainly funded by the Dutch government funded co-financing system known as “Medefinancieringsstelsel” (MFS), to a flexible, networked organisation with social innovation at its core. Key external developments have influenced our work too. The attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist attack in Paris later in the same year shocked Hivos and strengthened our conviction that Freedom of Expression is a crucial value to fight for.
Due to the ongoing war in Syria, Europe is seeing the arrival of an unprecedented number of refugees. The struggle to accommodate them has dominated political debates in Europe and has not only effected attention for the root causes of the refugee crisis but also revealed large divides in how EU members view the crisis. Even though Hivos does not work on the refugee issue in Europe, we feel the need to express that the manner in which refugees are treated in some European countries and the way in which we as Europeans respond is in essence a violation of our own values and shows poor historical memory. Despite the volatile situation in many MENA countries involving the harassment of warring factions, shrinking civic spaces and improper functioning of the infrastructure as well as immense personal suffering, Hivos continues to work in the region to improve human rights, increase female leadership and stimulate entrepreneurship. We have succeeded in attracting substantial new funds and are considering the establishment of a regional hub in the MENA region.
A shrinking space for civil society could also be witnessed in other parts of the world. Various countries, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Kenya, applied restrictive measures for civil society organisations in 2015. When it comes to the voice which citizens have in influencing debates and government decisions, we see a mixed picture. Connectivity and access to information increase through the penetration of smart phones, but individualism is also growing. Tensions between citizens themselves and citizens and institutions characterize many current societies, whether in the global North or South. This strengthens our view that organisations which can broker effective connections are indispensable: connections between individuals and institutions as well as amongst individuals across diverse dimensions; connections which can also be unusual alliances and involve ‘minorities’ in the broadest sense. As Hivos we feel inspired by Humanism, which provides a useful angle for making use of existing opportunities and building a vision of how individual rights and solidarity can go together.
A window of opportunity to improve global action towards sustainable development was taken in the Northern autumn of 2015, both through the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and through the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As part of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) campaign, Hivos pleaded successfully for the inclusion of a stand-alone energy goal as part of the SDGs. We welcome the political commitment which has been expressed for sustainable development and in particular the measures to reduce global warming, including financial resources for sustainable food and energy. Hivos will play its part in reminding governments that the time has now come to live up to those commitments, for instance through stimulating energy efficiency and providing people with access to sustainable energy.
I hope you enjoy reading our annual report 2015, which you can download as PDF from the right sidebar.
Executive Director Hivos