Launching the Movement

September 30, 2015 – NEW YORK, NY – Eighteen leading international organizations launched today the Movement for Community-Led Development, calling for a process that empowers citizens at the local level. The movement marks a key moment in which governments, NGOs and donor agencies are seeking the widespread adoption of grassroots initiatives to empower communities to become the authors of their own development.

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The event included an in-depth discussion of the case-study of KALAHI-CIDSS, one of the world’s largest community-led development initiatives (click here to see video of these speakers) as well as presentations by leaders from three member organizations:

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The movement unites a broad range of international development organizations that fundamentally believe integrated and community-led solutions at the local level are critical to the effectiveness and sustainability of ending extreme hunger and poverty.

The founding members of the movement include Action Against Hunger, The Alliance to End Hunger – USA, CARE, Community for Zero Hunger, Heifer International, The Hunger Project, HUMANITAS Global, IDS Participate Group,The International Food Policy Research Institute, OneVillage Partners, Restless Development, Save the Children, Sharma Solutions, Stand for Vulnerable Organization, Spark MicroGrants, Tostan, Village Enterprise and Women Thrive Worldwide.

“As individuals and organizations committed to the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, we are calling for enhancing the power and capacity of communities to take charge of their own development,” said John Coonrod, Vice President of The Hunger Project. “Four of the biggest challenges in the SDGs—to halt stunting, empower women, achieve inclusive economic growth and build climate change resilience—all require integrated and community-led solutions at the local level.”

The movement—which encourages other organizations and individuals to join them—will work as a catalyst to raise the profile of community-led development, advocate for an enabling policy environment and funding, share best practices, analyze results, generate and disseminate evidence of the importance of community-led development, and take the practice to scale.

The movement officially launches during the 70th United Nations General Assembly with a side event sponsored by the Government of the Philippines. The event, which will include leading experts from the field and the Global South, will explore how to make community-led development a high priority on development agendas everywhere.

While the missions, program areas and regions in which the member organizations work is vast, the central, uniting tenant is the fundamental belief that the right to participate in governance is an inalienable human right.

“People deserve the right to know that their voice and energies can make a difference. Those in power must view people as ‘active citizens,’ not beneficiaries, and ‘solutions,’ rather than ‘problems,’” Coonrod said. “Participatory local governance is the only pathway through which most people will have this opportunity.”

Movement Announced at UN Summit

President and CEO of The Hunger Project, Åsa Skogström Feldt, presented at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit session on Ending Poverty and Hunger, emphasizing the need to elevate community-led development. Her speech is below.

Your excellencies, dear friends.

I am honored to be here on behalf of millions of rural women, men and youth active in The Hunger Project across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

On this day, at this moment, it truly feels that the vision of a world free from hunger and poverty is within our grasp.

We know that technically the end of hunger and poverty can be achieved. Yet, this has never been primarily a technical challenge. It is a human one.

I believe that people are extraordinary.

When such extraordinary people — both women and men equally — are mobilized to participate as active citizens … And when they act in partnership with effective, accountable institutions at the community level … The result is: profound social and political transformation. This is what is required to achieve the end of hunger and poverty.

Some of our most pressing challenges — women’s economic status, maternal and childhood health, or the invisible crisis of malnutrition — can only be solved with integrated strategies at the community level. We must move away from top-down, siloed and short-term projects.

There is a distinct approach for transforming this situation. It is what we call “Community-led Development.” It is a holistic, bottom-up, sustained process that restores women, men and youth in taking control over their own lives.

Using this approach, we have seen:

  • Women and youth becoming active leaders of change.
  • Grassroots organizations making voices heard.
  • Creation of vibrant, inclusive economies.
  • And effective, accountable local government.

Today, I am proud to invite all who are interested to join us in launching a new initiative: the Movement for Community-led Development.

In this movement, stakeholders are coming together to elevate Community-led Development on the international policy agenda. We seek to learn from one another and call forth the policies and budgets required to empower communities.

In The Hunger Project, we start mobilizing communities with a process of Vision, Commitment and Action. Well, our world now has a vision. Today, we have all demonstrated our commitment. Now, is the time for each and every one of us to step up our action.

Let us strengthen communities so that all people can take charge of their own destiny. The bottom line: the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if they are achieved by people working together in communities.

Thank you.

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