Volunteering final report at JANIC/THINK Lobby – Olivia Huidobro




Olivia Huidbro

For the past four years, I worked for RACI, the Argentine Network for International Cooperation, as Coordinator of International Relations, among other roles. In 2018, even before I joined the team, RACI co-chaired the C20 during the G20 in Argentina and established a close relationship with JANIC. In the following years, the two organisations continued working together on C20-related activities. Little did I know how important this connection would be for me in the future, when I decided to move to Japan and was introduced to the JANIC team to find possible synergies.

As of November 2023, I have been collaborating as a volunteer with THINK Lobby, JANIC’s advocacy and research division. I have taken on various tasks which have served as an intensive training on issues related to democracies and civic space in Asia, global development, and the 2030 Agenda. In this time, I participated both in online and in-person sessions, including JANIC’s annual conference, HAPIC. I had the opportunity to hear first hand from experts about topics such as responsible business and human rights in Asia, misinformation, elections and civic space in the region, and the concept of loss and damage regarding the ongoing climate crisis.

Reporting on these webinars, together with the Tokyo Democracy Forum and the SDG16+ Forum Asia, was an exercise I valued to approach learnings and tools to overcome challenges. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to research and delve into other trending topics in international cooperation, like debt restructuring and financial issues, the state of digital rights, and the promotion of the humanitarian standard. Staying updated on the latest news regarding advocacy spaces was also a key part of my work. The development of C20 activities, held in Brazil this year, were summarised and shared as a newsletter. I also analysed the Apulia G7 Leaders’ Communiqué. Lastly, JANIC acted as a partner of Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid and development transparency, and I collaborated in the independent review process of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Although all of these activities enriched my theoretical and practical knowledge of international cooperation, I must admit that among my personal highlights of the experience are the persons I met along the way. During my time at JANIC, I came close to so many inspiring activists, journalists, professors, and professionals of the civil society sector that work untiringly to make a positive impact in Japan and the world. I shared networking spaces with the Peace Boat, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Taiwan Aid, and other members of the Japanese Civil Society. Having been introduced to the Niwano Peace Foundation, I even had the opportunity of travelling to Fukushima in a transformative field trip that would teach me about the region’s history of nuclear disaster, its subsequent recovery and rural development, and, specially, about resilience.

The whole experience, however, would not have been the same had I not been accompanied by the JANIC team, who were always ready to help me overcome cultural and language barriers, to share kind words, delicious meals and souvenirs, and get involved in stimulating conversations about our commons interests in the defence of human rights and the promotion of a more fair world. For all of this, I am beyond grateful to all of you. Although my time in Japan has come to an end, and a new chapter of my professional life must start pursuing a master’s degree in the UK, I am sure that this volunteering experience will be cherished for the longest time.

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Olivia Huidbro