Abong (Brazilian Association of Non-Governmental Organizations) is a national platform founded in 1991 with the purpose of coordinating civil society organizations (CSOs) that campaign for human rights, democracy and a more solidary, just and sustainable world. The association also fosters local and regional processes, disseminates information, builds and shares strategies and gives visibility to this political field, which has acquired a higher public profile in the country and worldwide since the ECO-92 Earth Summit (the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Today Abong comprises 250 affiliated organizations throughout Brazil. It provides a diverse, plural and fertile space for exchanging experiences and organizing political processes, as well as operating as a network for political intervention, influencing councils and public policy conferences, and working with other national networks and forums on issues of general interest of its affiliatedorganizations, such as the need for a regulatory framework for the sector.
More recently, Abong’s activities have also extended beyond national level and are increasingly evident in the international field through coordinated ventures with various national NGO platforms and networks and global processes, such as the World Social Forum.
The association’s political action is developed by member organizations organized in state-level boards, representatives of which are elected to a national board of directors. The board works together with an executive committee of five members, who work on a voluntary basis with the support of the national office in Sao Paulo.
At the last General Assembly, which took place in February 2013, the members designated five political priorities for the next few years. These are:
1. Strengthen the membership by investing in the financial and political sustainability of the members and working to increase the number of associates. Improve the relationship between associates and Abong, establishing clearer connections between the political representation and coordination work carried out by the Association and the work of the entities on the ground.
2. Intensify the campaign for a new regulatory framework for civil society organizations by improving the collaborative work – at both national and Latin American regional level – towards this goal. This will be achieved by developing studies and through advocacy and political pressure on the executive and the Brazilian congress, along with improved communication with the general public. Fight against the criminalization of social movements and civil society organizations.
3. Deepen the critical approach to the hegemonic pattern of development, which produces social inequalities and destroys natural wealth. Promote the construction of alternative paradigms that prioritize well-being and social and environmental justice, and help disseminate sustainable initiatives already under way.
4. Contribute to improving participatory democracy and the social oversight of public policies. As part of this aim, campaign for broader political reform, making public funding the only means to fund political campaigns, and work to ensure adequate representation of women, black people and minorities, regulation of direct democracy instruments, and democratization of the media and communication, as well as the judiciary.
5. Expand and enhance political advocacy at international level, primarily through dialogue and cooperation with civil society organizations in other countries. Demand civil society’s participation in the process of formulating Brazilian foreign policy and monitor the role of Brazil – and its companies/enterprises – throughout the world. Promote a culture of peace, solidarity and the valorization of diversity and democracy.
As a result of its diverse areas of work, Abong has broadened the knowledge and ability of its associated organizations and social movements to influence the international agenda through communication strategies, information sharing and the production of documents. The aim is also to create a national-level coordination group to discuss the broad range of international issues in order to improve and monitor the processes relating to the issues addressed by the associated organizations.
Thus, without losing sight of the local dimension, Abong and its associated organizations are deeply immersed in the reflections and initiatives of global citizenship. It should be stressed that many of the associated organizations are systematically and significantly involved in the implementation and extension of international advocacy work and monitoring its results, since they already have relevant experience on specific issues and effectively work inside the international spaces discussing these agendas. Furthermore, they have experience in developing political initiatives, as well as monitoring and proposing public policies. This expertise and strategic positioning contributes to Abong’s performance and also enhances the political processes of its associates.
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