WACC President Embert Charles at the Board of Directors meeting in London, Sept. 24-26. Photo: Gregg Brekke
President Embert Charles has urged WACC’s new Board of Directors to roll up their sleeves to “reenergise our global movement, regroup and give a stronger voice to the regions.”
At this point in its 50-year history, said Charles, WACC is confronted with these key questions: “What is the relevance of WACC today and what is the relevance of the WACC membership in five years’ time? What modalities do we use to communicate our relevance and our mission to the world?”
In his first address as president at WACC’s Board of Directors meeting in London, Sept. 24-26, Charles acknowledged the challenges faced by WACC 50 years after its founding.
“We are meeting at a time when WACC appears to be at the end of the glory days of large amounts of grant funding from multiple sources,” said Charles. “And this new reality has ushered in an era of restrictions and conditionalities attached to funding.”
As a result, there has been “lots of introspection, belt tightening, adjustments and refocusing of the programme portfolio,” said Charles.
He cautioned, however, against WACC becoming risk-averse, “tempering our advocacy, becoming business-like and bureaucratic.”
In order to grow and strengthen its base, WACC must support the advocacy efforts of its regions “while providing them with the capacities to expand membership and mobilize resources for the implementation of programmes and projects,” said Charles.
WACC must also “actively pursue youth membership and focus on succession,” he added.
“We must utilise our global connections and communications platforms to enable the regions to speak loudly on issues related to their own work and the strategic issues which WACC continues to champion,” Charles said.WACC must also “build on both strength and reputation as the global NGO which has put communication, culture and indigenous language rights in the forefront of development,” said Charles.
WACC must ensure that its programmes remain focused on social engagement, social justice and social communications, he said, noting, “in this new neo-liberal era of economic bottom lines and investments targets, the social dimension of development is facing weighty contenders for the front burner.”
Charles added, “While it is necessary to embrace new issues, develop strategic alliances and push these new manifestations of old agendas, WACC can provide that missing link to successful advocacy action and policy development – the communication rights angle.”
“Today there are not many international NGOs which champion the causes of communications, and the resistance to cultural synchronisation of peoples and nations, and their languages,” stated Charles. “It is time to roll up our sleeves and get into the trenches again!”