2017 EuroNGOs Conference

Brussels, 27–28 September

The 2017 EuroNGOs Conference "Re:Frame. Promoting SRHR in a time of growing populismtook place in Brussels, Belgium, 27-28 September. This two-day gathering challenged thinking and stimulated debate around the rise of populism, its impact on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues and how to respond to this changing context


Rising support for populist movements, increasing authoritarian tendencies of political leaders and governments and proliferation of so-called illiberal democracies, echoed through examples such as: Brexit in the UK, rhetoric used in Hungary and Poland, the success of far-right parties from Germany to Greece, and Trump in the USA, are reshaping politics in Europe and beyond. For the SRHR community this global political shift is particularly worrying as it rejects progressive values, favors national self-interest over international cooperation and development aid, and poses profound threats to human rights, particularly sexual and reproductive rights. There is also the risk that this growth in populism will undermine the achievement of SDGs, influence decisions taken at UN level and impact future funding of several UN agencies.


In this time of unprecedented change, the 2017 conference provided a high-level platform to highlight and explore how we can promote and protect SRHR in future years, within and beyond UN processes. This year’s conference challenged thinking and stimulated debate around the rise of populism and the impact this has on SRHR, both domestically as in the context of global development. The objectives of the conference were twofold:

  • Provide a platform for the SRHR community to unravel political and financial implications and put in place new narratives in the current political landscape and rise of populism. Share and collect best practices, techniques and approaches to respond to this changing context - at the global, regional and grassroots level.  
  • Taking into account the shifting political landscape, come up with concrete strategies to use the global framework of the Sustainable Development Goals to mitigate this backlash and to put gender, human and sexual and reproductive rights firmly on the agenda of the implementation, follow-up and review of the SDGs.




The conference was designed as a two-day dialogue, with parallel thematic tracks between which participants could navigate and choose according to their interest and priorities.

  • RE POLITICISE: What is the political impact of the rise of populism on our democratic space and SRHR issues, domestically and internationally, also looking at the political effects of the Global Gag Rule in the ‘Global North’ and ‘South’? How do we re-politicise SRHR, within and beyond UN processes, and how can we re-frame our messages in this new political landscape? How to use She Decides and further push our European governments and institutions to counteract the actions of an ultra-conservative administration both in America and elsewhere? Sessions will focus on ways to address this in our messaging, tactics and strategies, and innovative alliances and techniques out there to do that.
  • RE GENERATE: What are the implications of this new political context on ODA and funding for SRHR, and what is the impact of the Global Gag Rule, in particular in the Global South? Where do we now take the She Decides initiative and how can we hold donors to account on their pledges? How do we mobilize donors further and also leverage resources nationally to fill the funding gap, and what can we learn from examples and best-practices in mobilizing and generating funding from different sources - including governments, the private sector and foundations, as well as campaigns with the general public?
  • RE CONNECT: How do we reconnect with the grassroots and our citizen base? What can we learn from the rising populistic movements, rhetoric and their voters, and the growing Euroscepticism? How do we strengthen the capacity of our SRHR community to publically mobilise around our issues, become more capable to move beyond facts to emotions, and put pressure on decision-makers?
  • RE VIEW: Taking into account the shifting political landscape, how we use Agenda 2030’ follow-up and review to mitigate this back-lash and highlight the importance of SRHR? What lessons can we learn from the National Voluntary Reviews and High Level Political Forum in terms of evidence and progress on SRHR under SDGs 3 and 5 , how these were reported on, and where do we go from here?
  • RE PRESENT: What we are doing as a community in promoting and implementing SRHR within the SDGs at implementation and programming level? In times of ‘alternative facts’, what evidence, good practices and data do we have from our work on the ground, in our own countries and from the global South, and how do we present this as part of the monitoring and reporting on the SDGs through the different channels?

The conference programme was build-up of different types of sessions:

  • Context hubs: In these sessions the main emphasis is on deep analysis of the context and political debates, including external experts, aimed at sharing information and intelligence to feed into our strategies and plans.
  • Inspiration hubs: These sessions will focus on showcasing experiences, success stories and best practices from in and outside the sector.  
  • Creation hubs: The purpose of these sessions is to share and further develop ideas, and co-create concrete advocacy, campaigns or actions.

Side Events and Creation Hubs

  • SIDE EVENTS were organised by conference participants and were linked to one of the five thematic tracks of the 2017 Conference (more information about the tracks can be found in this concept note). Side events were an opportunity to showcase their work, share lessons learned among peers, disseminate ideas and solutions within our community, and expand our network of contacts.


  • CREATION HUB SESSION were organised by conference participants and were linked to one of the five thematic tracks of the 2017 Conference (more information about the tracks can be found in this concept note). These sessions were intended to be participatory and provide an opportunity to share and further develop ideas, work in small groups around a certain topic and co-create concrete action plans. Therefore, these sessions were meant to lead to specific deliverables that are action-oriented.


Youth Participation

It is impossible to discuss the topic of rising populism and its impact on SRHR without a meaningful youth engagement! Below you can find a brief overview of the youth involvement in the 2017 Conference.


Young people and participants working on youth issues gathered on the 26th September, the evening before the 2017 EuroNGOs to network, exchange experiences and learn from each other, to ensure a meaningful youth participation at the 2017 EuroNGOs Conference and to discuss the SRHR-related challenges faced by youth in the time of growing populism. Here you can see the meeting agenda.


While developing the conference programme, we made sure that young speakers will have a chance to raise their voice during plenary and breakout sessions.


A Youth Corner was also organized during both days of the conference, comprised of the activities below.  

  1. Youth messages of those who are not at the conference
  2. Signature wall
  3. Network area & Human Library 
  4. Resource Area - “how to engage young people for SRHR?”