FEEDBACK – 2017 Convergences World Forum : putting the SDGs at the forefront of the development agenda

Posted by: on Oct 5, 2017 | No Comments

For its tenth edition, the Convergences World Forum put the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the forefront of the development agenda, . Here are a few feedback.

On September 4th and 5th, 2017 the tenth edition of the Convergences World Forum was held in Paris, France. Since its creation, Convergences has been engaged in fostering creative, effective and efficient solutions to fight against poverty and precariousness in the world. This year, this ambitious objective was pursued by putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the forefront of the development agenda and like previous editions, by gathering actors from the aid, public but also private sectors.


Putting the SDGs at the forefront of the development agenda

Convergences World Forum 2017 chose for its tenth anniversary to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), putting particular emphasis on the SDGs 5, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 17 through dedicated sessions.

Four round tables were consecrated to SDG 5, which aim at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Members of Handicap International were able to attend two of them.


The first one was dedicated to fostering sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries.  Led by Audrey Pulvar, a French journalist, this panel had a few very interesting remarks such as : the need to involve men and boys in the respect and implementation of women and girls’ reproductive health and rights ; the necessity to work for the education of the most vulnerable groups as there is a clear link between the level of instruction and access to healthcare, especially with regard to a subject as touchy as sexual and reproductive health and rights ; or the need to actively involve civil society and local, religious or community leaders.

The second debate revolving around SDG 5 dealt with gender-based violence and provided a quick overview of the issues at stake in developing countries but also in so-called developed countries such as France. The practice of excision, or female-genital cutting, was of particular interest to the panel, which brought together representatives of NGOs such as WomenSafe, FGM Let’s talk about it or someone from UN Women. Others also mentioned the link between poverty and gender-based violence, the former being the cause and the consequence of the latter. Eventually, various forms of gender-based violence affecting most particularly women were raised such as other form of physical violence, but also psychological, economic or social violence.

Handicap International also attended pitches, short-term presentations held at the heart of Convergences’ village. One of them was of particular interest as it focused on micro-financing and community development, two topics at the heart of Handicap International’s inclusive economic development projects.


poster of the convergences world forum


Eventually, Humanitarian Alternatives, the journal supported by the Handicap International Foundation, and the French Red Cross Fund, another co-founder of the journal, organized a round table on the impacts of climate change on poverty and humanitarian crises.

Stéphanie Stern from Action against Hunger (ACF) animated the discussion led by Claire Fehrenbach, Chief Executive of OXFAM France, Cheikh Kane from ACMAD, the African Centre for the Applications of Meteorology to Development, Benoît Hazard, an anthropologist working at the School for Higher Education in Social Sciences (EHESS) and Jeannot Ramiaramanana, the Director of the Economics and Ethics Center for the Environment and Development of the University of Madagascar.

In their discussions, they put a particular emphasis on the links existing between poverty, emergency action, development and climate issues. [and then took part in a radio show available here (in French)] This round table was organized as part of the sessions focused on SDG 17, which aims at strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development.


Partnerships, like SDGs, were at the heart of this tenth edition of the Convergences World Forum… but are all partnerships of equal worth?

Involving those interested in fostering the SDGs…

                                           whether they are from the aid, public or private sector


Engaged since its creation in fighting against poverty and precariousness, Convergences encourages, in its own words, “the exchange and the creation of partnerships between the actors invested in the construction of a world free of exclusion, carbon and poverty”. Here, partnerships should be understood in the widest of ways, given that it encompasses actors coming from the aid, public but also private sector.

To this extent, various sessions, pitches and round tables were led by banks such as BNP Paribas or the Société Générale; others were animated by the French development agency (the AFD) or by the French Ministry of Environment; and last but not least, NGOs such as CARE or Doctors of the World also took part in the organization of the Convergences World Forum.


Handicap International also believes in the importance of involving all actors and prides itself in implementing its projects on the ground hand in hand with local NGOs, disabled people’s organizations or peer-support groups. It also collaborates with the public authorities of most of the countries it works in, assisting different Ministries, national or local authorities in improving access to health, inclusive education, livelihoods for all, etc. Eventually, Handicap International collaborates, and is of course financially supported, by private actors, but not any type of private actors, as reported in a previous article. Handicap International, through its Foundation, indeed pays specific attention to the ethics of the corporations funding its projects. Consequently, it tries not to associate itself with those who continue to invest in landmines or cluster munitions [1], trample on human rights or, among other things, deliberately destroy the environment.



Optional reading:

Getting started with the SDGs, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, December 2015


Others :

Convergences World Forum

Podcast recorded by RFI after Humanitarian Alternatives‘ round table