Canada’s Development Finance Institution: The Perfect Tribute to EWB’s Community
It is moments like this that make me proud to be a member of EWB. The announcement of the operationalization of a Canadian Development Finance Institution (DFI) in Budget 2017 is a huge win for this community! Over the last four years the EWB community (myself included) has campaigned for this very thing, and my excitement cannot be overstated!
The creation of this DFI is both symbolically and practically important for Canada’s development policy going forward. It shows that Canada is taking new steps in its commitment to eradicating global poverty. Additionally, a Canadian DFI could mean the creation of meaningful and sustainable employment for many people in the developing world (see here for a quick primer or, check out EWB’s policy brief or this OECD paper for a deeper dive). We can’t underestimate how important this really is! However, something that is just as important to understand about this is the story of how our EWB community played such a key role in making this happen.
I think our 2014 Day of Action is the best example of the role EWB played in this. In May 2014, 30 EWBers gathered in Ottawa to meet with and discuss the creation of a Canadian DFI with MPs. But, because EWB always aims high, we didn’t just arrange a few meetings. We arranged and held 58 meetings with 58 different Members of Parliament. We came informed, prepared and armed with a full policy brief with recommendations and answers to all the key questions someone could ask about DFIs. (This was something that EWB had created along with some key partners.) We were there, we were ready and we meant business. The best part was that it worked!
In Budget 2015 the Government of Canada included an initial $300 million dollars over 5 years for the creation of a Canadian DFI. Unfortunately with the elections of that year and the arrival of a new government that September, the DFI was not fully operationalized. However, EWB never gave up! We ran online campaigns and another Day of Action, and now, finally we are getting what we came for. But we need to get the details right.
To me what this all represents is EWB’s thoughtful commitment to our ideas and values. From the start, many wondered if a campaign like this would work. Some doubted whether or not this idea was too boring, and others thought that this was not really something EWB could make happen. I’m glad to say we proved them wrong!
This campaign is a tribute to EWB’s community, because it shows why I am so glad to be part of this organization. Here are a few of the reasons why:
- We campaigned for a meaningful and thoughtful cause. We did not choose a ‘sexy’ topic. We chose a practical and impactful one.
- We came together, committed to the idea, informed ourselves and presented our good idea in a strong way.
- We courageously committed and never gave up.
Of course the fight is not over. The DFI is not yet operational, and we must fight to make sure that when it is, it is an institution we can be proud of (again, check out this policy brief for what that could look)! We must remain diligent, and active. We must continue to commit ourselves to good ideas and critical conversations, and we must always remember our values. For now, however, I am also going to celebrate this amazing win as a tribute to this amazing community.