For Anne-Marie CHAVANON, delegate from the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP), reelected as Chair of the Committee on Democracy, Social Cohesion and Global Challenges, last June 26th by the Conference of International NGOs of the Council of Europe, the results of the recent national and European elections in several member states should give us pause for thought: the confidence of Europe’s peoples in their democracies and their futures must be restored! This is all the truer since, at the same time, men, women and children are risking their lives to come and join Europe.
Clearly, she believes that tolerance, good governance and peace have to be promoted on the shores of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, as well as in all our countries which have been so badly shaken by the economic crisis. "We must have the courage to take up the new challenges of public health, rising poverty and inadequate housing. We must unite the public and governments in countering the effects of climate change and natural and technological hazards. But we must also convince our fellow citizens of the potential of their regions and their cultures, which should be open to the world", she said..
She strongly believes that in each of these fields, the Council of Europe can interact effectively if it harnesses the efforts of all the members of its quadrilogue, in line with their respective areas of responsibility.
Having experienced that over the past three years, the committee has been able to measure its power of influence, both internally, through the Conference of INGOs, and nationally and internationally, she relies on the extraordinary strength of the INGOs, their high level of expertise, the exemplary nature of their work on the ground and their influence in Europe and throughout the world.
"We must now have the courage to stimulate the action of the Council of Europe, in conjunction with the Human Rights Committee and the Education and Culture Committee. That is our task and I want most strongly to drive it forward with you. I urge you all to advance together quicker and further! " she said
"Our environment is changing in many ways and at unprecedented rates: climate change, biodiversity loss and loss of ecosystems, increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events, desertification and soil degradation, overfishing and deforestation are just some of the many environmental challenges we are faced with". He believes the role of INGOs is critical in helping develop relevant policies to help tackle these areas.
"Europe is today in a process of adapting its structures and models in order to find and to give answers to the paradigm shift in all societal domains (multiple crises, ageing society, migration flows, globalisation, knowledge-based society and economy, digital agenda etc.). We must be concerned with developing an accountable, dynamic society that recognises its place in the world and focuses on the active responsibility we must all take in living together peacefully, in harmony and respect for one another and the environment".
He considers, the range of global challenges will continue to expand in the coming years with new climate, health, social and other issues. He believes NGOs will have to be vigilant and responsive in order to deal with them. The contribution of each INGO in its area of expertise is a necessity.
In his view, in the current difficult social and economic environment, the values of democracy have been undermined. Social cohesion is under threat. Civil society must be a key driving force to promote a hope that must be constantly renewed: for a fairer and more human society that is open to other people. This will always be his goal and road map.