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A round-up from the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) global delegates meeting and conference

BASW CEO Ruth Allen provides a summary of the delegate meeting and conference

I hope many of you were able to join in with the IFSW free global online conference earlier this month.  Information and resources are still available on the website.

Both the conference and the preceding online global delegates decision-making meeting were a great success and really inclusive of social workers around the world. We have fed this back to our colleagues in IFSW and to the elected Executive who did a tremendous job creating a global event in a matter of weeks.

While we couldn’t speak to colleagues, we were able to use the online facilities to communicate and have discussions – often with people we may never have met in real life. And with ‘google translate’, attendees at both events could use their own first language with the onus on the reader to translate. Pre-recorded presentations were used in both events to great effect; I felt closer to presenters than is usually possible in a large conference hall  and generally I was clearer about what the presenter really wanted to convey and prioritise. 

BASW supports the future use of online platforms by IFSW to communicate globally more accessibly, at much less cost and a much lower carbon footprint. We will want to see international colleagues in the flesh once more, and we will need to enable richer communication and debate than was possible this time, but the value of that versus the value of low cost, environmentally responsible online connectivity needs to be weighed up for the long term.

Here are a few highlights from the events.

Key ‘takeaways’ from the global conference:

  • There is huge global creativity in social work and the 300+live and recorded sessions showed this brilliantly, from all around the world
  • We have much to learn from international colleagues and having recorded sessions available 24 hours over several days extended access and learning
  • The direct involvement of people with lived experience was limited and should be improved upon in subsequent events
  • Each year when we celebrate World Social Work Day we are following the two-year themes of the Global Agenda for social work. Since 2010, these have been jointly agreed by IFSW, IASSW and  International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW). The first ten year global agenda – led by BASW’s own David Jones - has concluded – and he hands over to a new lead, Abye Tassé.  The 4th report covers the final theme of ‘Strengthening recognition of the importance of human relationships’  A new ten year global agenda, with new two-year themes, was developed in the IFSW conference and will be finalised in coming months, in conjunction with the IASSW and ICSW. The conference proposals for these themes are below. Fuller information is available here

Valuing Social Work as an Essential Service

Co-building Inclusive Social Transformation

Ubuntu: ´I am because we are´

Transforming Social Protections Systems 

Promoting Diversity and the Power of Joint Social Action

Key global delegates’ meeting decisions notes:

  • Establishment of a permanent Education Commission and adoption of new Social Work Education Standards, jointly with the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). The Standards were adopted with the note to the Executive and Commission that further work on regional and national adaptation approaches would be needed.
  • Establishment of a permanent Indigenous Commission – to promote indigenous issues in the Federation and in social work
  • The report on social work’s role in promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals was referred back to the IFSW Executive for further work on a policy paper
  • The meeting voted in favour of a motion put by BASW, asking the Executive to explore the possibility of raising and distributing funds to social workers in particularly poorly resourced contexts, to improve how they address Covid. This proposal was in  the spirit of the BASW International Development Fund.  
  • We accepted the yearly accounts of IFSW and noted the investment made in the new website and some additional staffing which had used some reserves. BASW has formally asked IFSW to develop a financial strategy for coming years that looks at sustainability and growth and which will enable the Federation to act to redress the significant differences in resources and power between the now 141 association members.