By Sarah Mac Donald - 31 January, 2017
“With inequality increasing, climate change rapidly advancing and war and displacement destroying the lives of millions, the call to challenge global structural injustices is even more urgent today than when CIDSE was founded.”
The head of Trócaire has been elected president of the Catholic development network, the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, with a three-year mandate.
Éamonn Meehan succeeds Heinz Hödl, Director of KOO, the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for International Development.
Mr Meehan has been a member of CIDSE’s Executive Committee since 2014 and brings 30 years of experience in international development and global justice to his new role.
CIDSE brings together 18 member organisations from Europe and North America, including Trócaire and Cafod, and its international secretariat is based in Brussels.
It was founded to coordinate tasks identified by the Second Vatican Council as important for the Catholic Church, namely, care for the poor and the oppressed and work for justice on a global level.
As a network, CIDSE is not an organisation that grants financial or technical support for development. The responsibility for project funding lies within the competencies of its member organisations.
CIDSE’s responsibilities include measuring impact, improving the coordination of CIDSE’s programme work and engaging in a mutual strengthening of advocacy work.
Speaking about his new role, Éamonn Meehan said, “Since its foundation over 50 years ago, CIDSE has always remained true to the call to challenge global structural injustices in order to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. With inequality increasing, climate change rapidly advancing and war and displacement destroying the lives of millions, this challenge is even more urgent today.”
As president of CIDSE, he said he was committed to building on the work of the network and contributing to the change our world so badly needs.
“In our own lives we must take responsibility for our own actions and those of our wealthy societies. Sustainability and equity begins with the acceptance of this responsibility and opening our hearts and minds to change. CIDSE’s work is founded on Gospel values and the Church’s social teaching and has been renewed and energised by the work of Pope Francis.”
Mr Meehan enters into his mandate as CIDSE begins to implement its new strategic framework, which will run until 2021.
The alliance plans to reorganise its work so it can deepen partnerships both within the network and with agents of change in the North and the South, learn and experiment on approaches for systemic change, and build bridges between communities and ways of living across the world.
During Heinz Hödl’s time as President, the organisation worked on the Paris Climate Agreement, contributed towards new global frameworks for sustainable development and finance for development, advocated for strong EU legislation on conflict minerals, and developed a new strategic framework entitled ‘Acting for Transformation for a Just and Sustainable World’.
CIDSE and Caritas are key strategic partners for development and humanitarian issues, having different areas of focus and expertise. While Caritas is stronger on humanitarian aid questions, CIDSE’s emphasis lies on broader development concerns.
CIDSE Secretary General, Bernd Nilles, said in response to news of the new president, “CIDSE looks forward to the presidency of Éamonn Meehan. His experience will help the CIDSE alliance to further unite in its efforts and strategies to promote greater societal and economic transformation and to bring positive changes by putting the struggles of frontline communities at the centre of our work.”
Éamonn Meehan has been Executive Director of Trócaire since 2013. He first joined Trócaire’s staff in 1991 as Programme Manager for the Southern Africa Region.
For five years in this role, he managed the day-to-day running of Trócaire’s work in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In 1996, he became Head of the International Division, responsible for Trócaire’s work overseas. This included the allocation of resources to development and humanitarian programmes and securing co-financing from the Irish government, the EU and others.
In 2002, Éamonn Meehan was appointed Deputy Director and Head of Trócaire’s Ireland Division with over-arching responsibility for fundraising and marketing, communications, development education, policy and campaigns.
Previously, from 1987 to 1991, he worked with the Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO) as Regional Representative for Southern Africa, based in Lesotho.
A former teacher, he has taught in Clane, Co Kildare, Knocklyon in Co Dublin and in Turkana in Kenya.
Originally from Kilmaley, Co Clare, Éamonn Meehan holds a Masters in Education from Trinity College, Dublin.
The Board of CIDSE also welcomed Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Stefano Manservisi, Director-General of DG DEVCO, as special guests, to discuss bringing forth the vision presented in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, and the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.