The Dóchas Annual Conference 2017

Reclaiming the Story: connecting and amplifying voices for equality, solidarity and respect

Dóchas' annual conference took place on Friday 12 May in the Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin.

Our theme this year was “Reclaiming the Story: connecting and amplifying voices for equality, solidarity and respect.”

The conference brought together global activists to assess how we should be responding to the dramatic challenges being posed by our new political reality – epitomised by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. We know the space for civil society to promote the values of social justice, and to campaign to tackle the root causes of poverty, inequality and climate change, is both changing and shrinking, but how then to reclaim our story?    

We were joined by over 200 delegates, who were treated to an afternoon of lively, vigorous discussion and insightful speakers, wonderfully MC'd by UN Youth Delegates Colm O’Rourke and Eoin O’Liatháin.

As our keynote speaker, Kumi Naidoo said on the day:  “The convergence of the multiple crises that we face in the world today, including poverty, inequality, climate and more, calls on us to embrace fundamental systemic change.  We cannot be content with incremental tinkering or rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic while we figuratively and literally sink as humanity.”

The afternoon kicked off in flying form with a passionate, powerful performance by spoken word artist Erin Fornoff.

We were then privileged to hear from our keynote speaker, Kumi Naidoo, Launch Director of Africans Rising and former International Director of Greenpeace.

Read more on the key highlights from his impassioned, inspirational speech.

The afternoon then shifted towards the breakout sessions – with three separate sessions taking place on issues connecting to how we can reclaim the story.

What next?

After a much deserved coffee break, where participants were also invited to visit stands from key sponsors, supporters, and Dóchas members, we all reconvened in the main conference hall to hear reports back from each of the breakout sessions. Guest speakers from each session – Jess Day, Ellen Dorsey and James Crowley joined Kumi Naidoo to reflect on what we learned throughout the day.

Here are some of the key take-aways:

  • We must use this crisis – to re-awaken our sense of activism and to find renewed purpose for civil society. We must exploit this opportunity and…

  • Collaborate! We must break out of our usual silos – by working more closely together on issues like the SDGs, and recognising the interconnectedness of our work, but also by speaking to those who don’t always agree with us.

  • Change! NGOs and civil society need to change – we need to return to our activist roots and…

  • Speak truth to power. The very existence of civil society is at risk – and we must not be afraid to fight for it.

This conference was always intended to be the beginning of a conversation – not an end.

Dóchas will continue to raise these issues and to bring activists in Ireland working for change together to achieve great things. We hope you’ll join us.  

Full list of guest speakers at Reclaiming the Story

Kumi Naidoo - Launch Director of Africans Rising and former International Executive Director of Greenpeace.

Ellen Dorsey - Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund

James Crowley - The Crowley Institute

Professor John Gaventa - Director of Research, Institute of Development Studies

Mandeep Tiwana - Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS

Jess Day - Client Manager at more onion and digital campaigner

Ruairí McKiernan - Social innovator and campaigner

Laura Sullivan - Europe and Americas Director for ActionAid International

Erin Fornoff - poet

Sharan Kelly - Chairperson of Dóchas and CEO of Tearfund Ireland

Suzanne Keatinge - CEO of Dóchas

Lorna Gold - Trócaire

Catrina Sheridan - CEO, Sightsavers International Ireland

MCs - Colm O'Rourke and Eoin O'Liatháin

Thank you to:

The National Youth Council of Ireland for their support

YMCA West Cork for their hard work filming and photographing the conference

Further reading:

Pre-conference blogs - 

"The global economic model marches to the beat of those with extreme wealth" - Winnie Byanyima

"NGOs are perceived as disconnected and even part of the problem"- Adriano Campolina

"We need to work better together, take a stand on key issues as one voice, and support one another" - Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen

"The problem is not that we don’t tell our story – the problem is that we don’t LIVE the story we tell" - Dr. Burkhard Gnärig

The Dóchas Conference 2017 was proudly sponsored by:

Our Generous Sponsors