End of year letter to our members and partners

By Marcos Concepcion Raba
21 December 2023


Warm greetings from GNDR.

As 2023 ends, we would like to share a few highlights, say thank you for your continued support and collaboration and share what we are looking forward to in 2024.

In 2023, while still recovering from COVID 19, we were faced with another really challenging year. When the war between Ukraine and Russia continues to escalate, a new Palestinian-Israeli Humanitarian Crisis started and the impact of the conflict is growing every day, with no aspect of life unaffected and most of the greatest impact befalling the most vulnerable in society. At the same time, many other disasters impacted, and still affect millions of peoples and communities, like the Libya floods or the Morocco earthquake in September, and the Turkey-Syria earthquake at the beginning of the year, causing millions of people losses and displacement. These are just some of the disasters our members have had to face, in addition to the long-running humanitarian crises, such as those in Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, the Horn of Africa, etc.

Unfortunately, moreover, 2023 will go down in history as the warmest year on record. We have exceeded all the planet’s limits: air and sea temperatures, increased extreme weather events, rising sea levels and the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

But this year we have also worked tirelessly to support our members to increase the resilience of communities most at risk of disasters. As a network, we work together to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations so that they can mobilise and mitigate the impact of such disasters; and we have continued to grow, now with 1,842 full members across 130 countries, which represents 18% more than last year. We know that we are more resilient together, and we know that we have many challenges to face together in 2024 to keep influencing policies and practices by amplifying the voices of people most at risk.

Without overlooking the challenges and cascading risk that we still face as a global community, we would like to take a moment to stop and reflect on our collective network’s achievements, and be proud of all we have achieved together this year.

Policy & Advocacy

In 2023 we have continued our engagement with UNDRR Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism (SEM), not only leading the constituency of the NGOs, but also co-chairing the initiative. Earlier this year we had the opportunity to participate in the High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the UN General Assembly on the Midterm Review of the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. There, we had the opportunity to advocate for stronger commitments at the global level and support local stakeholders, including civil society organisations, to fulfil commitments in the Sendai Framework.

In July, GNDR had a presence at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, where we engaged in side-events and networked with policy makers to make sure that our Call to Action was taken into consideration.

Later, the Network attended the Anticipation Hub’s Global Dialogue on Anticipatory Action in Berlin where GNDR co-led with members various sessions where we promoted our Locally Led Anticipatory Action briefing paper and explored the setting up of a Locally Led AA working group with participants. We have also actively participated and collaborated with Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) and the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI), ensuring that civil society was heard in these spaces.

Meanwhile, GNDR continues to expand our members’ representation, and our application for accreditation with UNEP (UN Environment Programme) was successful, as was our application to become a member of the European Commission’s Global Gateway Civil Society and Local Authorities Dialogue Platform (GG Dialogue Platform).

In parallel, we worked with the Climate Change Working Group on our Call to action for COP28, since June. This was shared with member states ahead of the conference negotiations. GNDR was proud to see members championing loss and damage, localisation, and voice from the frontline of climate risk throughout the COP28 negotiations. There, in Dubai, we participated in 16 events and sponsored and supported nine CSO member representatives. GNDR also endorsed the Charter on “Getting Ahead of Disasters”, supporting the initiative to take more proactive approaches to managing risks. At the same time, important progress was also made on the Loss and Damage Fund, the new framework on adaptation action, and the selection of UNDRR-UNOPS consortia as the hosts of the Santiago Network secretariat to “avert, minimise and address loss and damage” from the impacts of climate change. Anyway, while COP28 in Dubai sent an important signal on the end of fossil fuels by “transitioning away”, still left more questions than answers on how to ensure a fair and funded transition that is based on science and equity. 

GNDR actively participated in the global debate, and we recognise that it is still a huge challenge to make and keep space for civil society organisations in these spaces, particularly at the HLPF and COP negotiations. Our commitment is to continue calling attention to this and to champion the need to support and empower local voices in global decision-making spaces. 

Research, Impact and Capacity Strengthening

The Local Leadership Academy (LLA) continues its very successful job in championing capacity building as part of our efforts to shift power to local CSOs. By the end of our working plan for this year and supported by Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) we expect to have delivered 9 webinars in the three main regions (Americas, Africa and Asia) to strengthen the organisational capacities of our members. In addition to that, the Asian regional team already organised a series of webinars, under Members’ Spotlight Series, focused on “Early warning, early action”, “Curating localisation” and “Anticipatory action in practice”.

This year we are putting special emphasis on supporting the organisational development of our members, through a fundraising training programme in collaboration with our partner “Change the Game Academy”.

In 2023 we also completed the implementation of Views from the Frontline, by carrying out the final evaluation of the program and submitting to EU INTPA. As you’ll know, this is our flagship program, and we are working hard to be able to launch a new edition next year.

This year a new global program commenced, Locally led Humanitarian Solutions: Building resilience in fragile contexts affected by climate change; funded by USAID BHA. The program is being implemented in 1 1 most fragile countries from 4 geographical regions, which includes: Middle East (Yemen and Iraq), Africa (DRC, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire), Asia (Pakistan, Bangladesh and Azerbaijan), and Latin America (Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala).

This is the year in which we’re completing the implementation of other two incredible programs. The first one, Making Displacement Safer, project funded by USAID BHA and implemented in 11 countries as well, have moved forward to a shared learning and influencing focus, working on resources guides on Urban Living Labs and Knowledge Management and Mapping, and the cookbook planned to bring together all learning and to be presented in the Global Summit, in February 2024.

The second one, Local Leadership for Global Impact, in partnership with DKH and funded by BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), has focused on localising climate projections, and locally led anticipatory. Alongside the event in Berlin (mentioned above), national roundtables, resource development, shared learning and presentations at external spaces have been undertaken. As in the previous case, the cookbook for the project is planned to be launched in 2024.

Network Strengthening

A total of 27 Regional Advisory Group meetings were held so far, both virtually and in-person and 9 National Coordination Meetings took place. These meetings are of vital importance for the proper governance of the network, as they are the spaces in which our members can discuss strategic developments to work together at local and regional level. All this coordination and collaborative work would not be possible without the invaluable support of SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and other generous donors, but above all, without the great commitment of the National Focal Points in each country in which GNDR has a presence.

In this sense, we’re working hard in revamping the Community Platform, to make it more engaging and meaningful for our members to engage and collaborate and learn from each other.

We also welcomed five new Global Board members this year: Baimba Handel Si-Diakay Sisay (Southern Africa); Ghada Ahmadein (North Africa & West Asia); Tasneem Siddiqui (South Asia); Eena Geslaine Barrun (South East Asia & East Asia); and Khurram Shahid Malik (Pacific). 

Lastly, we conducted the Mid Term Review of the network’s strategy (2020-25), to make sure we had the opportunity to reflect with our key stakeholders on progress against the strategic plan, document lessons and learnings, and decide what and how the network may want to adapt its ways of working and approaches to improve our impact in the second half of the strategic period. More than 350 members from 83 countries participated in this exercise, as well as more than 25 external stakeholders (from UN agencies, bilateral and international organisations, global and regional networks), providing great inputs. The Global Board is still in the process of working on the management response for the Mid Term Review, which will finalise in the Global Summit, next February.

Looking to the future

In 2024 we are excited to start the year with the Global Summit, in person, next February in Nairobi (Kenya). It will be an excellent opportunity to have in-depth dialogues on South-South collaboration, the localisation agenda, and the progress on risk-informed development. We expect over 100 members from all corners of the globe, and it will be a perfect opportunity to engage with many other stakeholders, partners, and donors.

Next year, we will continue to strive to build programmes with our members, such as the aforementioned Locally Led Humanitarian Solutions, with the aim of generating powerful evidence for Disaster Risk Reduction policy change at global, regional and local levels.

We look forward to continuing to engage closely with UNDRR to bring civil society and local voice to the development of National DRR plans to achieve the goals of the Sendai Framework. Our relationship with the UNDRR regional offices will be strengthened, as well as with the Bonn Climate Change Office, in the effort to operationalise the Santiago Network and the Loss and Damage Fund, and the implementation of the Early Warning For All initiative. 

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our 1,842 members for their contribution to our network’s activities, and our donors Sida, SDC, BMZ and USAID for their continued support. 

Wishing you a peaceful end of the year from all of us at GNDR.

Marcos Concepcion Raba,

Executive Director, Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction

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