Forum Takeaways and Future Action

Photo By: J. Stuart Harris
This June, InterAction held its 31st annual Forum. More than 1,000 attendees from over 350 organizations participated in the three-day event.
 
In an effort to synthesize three days of stimulating conversations, brainstorming sessions, and building connections with many of you at InterAction’s Forum 2015, let’s reflect on some key takeaways:
 
1. During the opening plenary, panelists observed that the new Sustainable Development Goals give us a basis for a new social contract between a government and its people. How this contract will shape fragile states and complex emergencies is unclear. Professor Bill Easterly emphasized that we must address daunting challenges of poverty and inequality by advocating for the power of individual choice and civic actors. What is our future role as U.S. NGOs in ensuring this? As stated in my keynote address, to have the greatest impact, we must work collectively to create a strong global civil society infrastructure made up of networks that shape global corporations and decision making.
 
2. So how do we pay for these goals? In our new Financing for Development track, participants learned about innovative financial models and ways their organizations can maneuver the changing financial ecosystem. We encourage those interested in learning more to attend our Leadership Development Trainings. 
See photos from Forum 2015

3. While we emphasize the much-needed contribution of civic actors in development, there is a global crackdown on civil society. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes highlighted President Obama’s Stand with Civil Society Initiative. Leaders from the UN, think tanks, civil society, and the NGO community emphasized that we must stand in solidarity to eliminate harmful restrictions on civic space and make room for a vibrant civil society to thrive worldwide.

4. The Washington Post’s Dana Priest and a panel of experts explored the long and complicated relationship between the media and U.S. NGOs. The New York Times’ Sheri Fink emphasized the need to appreciate the media’s role in increasing transparency and accountability in the field while acknowledging that the media can play a greater role in bringing attention to lesser known stories.
 
5. In accepting InterAction's Julia Taft Leadership Award, Ruth Messinger challenged us to take on what can at times be the overwhelming odds of advancing dignity and rights. Her work demonstrates that progress is possible.
 
This year’s Forum has allowed us to remove our blinders, take a step back, and learn about the programs the person sitting next to us is involved in. How can we engage the private sector? What are some areas for cooperation with governments? As we try to develop a collective narrative about our work, what is the best way to engage with the media? Let’s continue exploring these critical questions.
 
What were your key takeaways? Share them via #InterActionForum. Thank you to our 1,000-plus participants, sponsors, speakers, and volunteers who have come together to discuss creating a better future and made the event a success.