The first decision I took as the new CEO of Plan International was to open my calendar so all my colleagues could see my activities and book time with me directly, without going through a gate-keeper. I encouraged all senior executives across Plan International to do the same. It was a small step on a journey to transform Plan International into one of the most transparent and trusted players in the international development community. Judging by the reaction – which ranged from horror and shock to victory dances – we still have a long way to go, both internally and externally. MORE
One of the many clever things Winston Churchill is supposed to have said is: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. During the height of the financial crisis one could read this quote everywhere. What commentators usually assume, is that Churchill challenged leaders to use moments of crisis to launch in-depth change processes which would meet paralysing resistance in normal times. If we look back a few years we have to note that governments did not use the crisis to reform, let alone transform, the global financial system. At a lower level of intensity, with less popular attention, the crisis persists and it is only a matter of time until it returns into focus, making us aware that we did let “a good crisis go to waste”. MORE
A historic year has come to an end. We now need to join forces to tirelessly work for full implementation of the outcomes from the conferences on Financing for Development, the UN General assembly on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate agreement at COP 21.
One of the lessons of the last 15 years is that the world’s biggest challenges cannot be solved in isolation. The new universal agenda, which makes all countries developing countries, needs a more inclusive – as well as sustainable – social and economic model. How we as governments, donors, civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector etc. partner for development will have an impact on the ability to address the global challenges of today. MORE
Once upon a time, in the north west, lived Arrogance. One day Arrogance met Greed. Perfectly compatible, they soon conceived and Colonialism was born. Colonialism was strong and became very powerful. However, Colonialism did much damage to others and ultimately faded away to great happiness.
Arrogance blamed Greed for Colonialism’s wrong-doings and ended the relationship. However Arrogance was still fit and well and took another lover – Benevolence. Arrogance and Benevolence were not well suited; they were virtually incompatible. Despite this they too had a child called Development.
Development’s upbringing was difficult; torn by the conflicting demands of its parents. Because of this, Development struggled to build sustainable relationships and had a number of fleeting romances. As a result of one of these, Ingo  was born. Later and after an awkward courtship, Development settled down with Globalisation and, soon after, Collaboration was born.
I am sure that the conversation below is not happening in any of the international civil society organisations (ICSOs) we are working with. Nobody aims to “decline into obsolescence”.
However, “risking anything new” doesn’t look like an obvious choice of our sector either. Still, I believe that this is really the choice we have: either risk innovation or slowly fade away. So, why not make 2016 the year of exciting innovation, the year of prudent risk taking, the year in which transformative change takes hold in your organisation?
Here are three courageous ideas which may help you start the transformation in your organisation: MORE
For the last five years, 2015 has held a special place on international civil society organisations’ (ICSOs) agenda. The development and climate communities have both worked towards the UN meetings in New York and Paris where the global agenda for the coming decades would be set. But while we were preparing for these crucial events, the world hadn’t stopped moving – on the contrary, it went on changing at an ever faster pace. Here are the key strategic trends of 2015 as I see them:
1. The absence of effective global governance (and government) is becoming more painful by the day
Two major trends are causing increasing pain: Climate change and migration. MORE
Co-author Daniel Mittler, Political Director, Greenpeace International
That the Paris climate agreement for the first time sets its eyes on limiting global warming to a safer level of 1.5 degrees and sends a clear signal that the fossil fuel era is ending, is the result of real leadership from the most vulnerable countries combined with unprecedented levels of climate mobilisation over the last years, months and days. What is good in the Paris agreement is there because of people power. What is bad, and there is plenty, is where people power now, going forward, needs to be directed.
Let’s be honest: After Copenhagen six years ago, the climate movement was depressed. We tried not to let that happen (at Greenpeace, for example, we had a fresh team taking over early in 2010 to keep momentum going). But the mood was too dark, so it took months before we, as a movement, recovered. Looking back now, though, we can say that the strategic roads taken after Copenhagen were vindicated over the past few days. The climate movement’s new focus since 2010 on winning national battles had already resulted in key steps forward: Coal demand is now in terminal decline worldwide, after a dramatic – if not complete – change of course in China. This year alone Shell had to retreat from the Alaskan Arctic, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and Alberta put a cap on tar sands oil. Combine this bad news for fossil fuels with new players – from cities to companies – coming on board with the vision of a 100% renewable future and the ground shifts. It has worked to change – from the grassroots up – the global conversation around climate change. MORE
Civil society organisations (CSOs) must be prepared with the tools they need to navigate transformative change as it arises – with this at the core of its agenda, the International Civil Society Centre launched Scanning the Horizon in December 2015.
This new project is bringing together a community of experts – futurists, strategists, and trend analyst – to build a base of knowledge that detects disruption early and helps organisations mitigate potential challenges.
On 3 – 4 December, Scanning the Horizon held an initial working group, which included David Thomson (Global Strategy Director, Plan International), and Lars Gustavsson (Futurist, World Vision International). These two changemakers discuss the project, potential future disruptions and the need for CSOs to constantly scan the horizon for upcoming trends.
The world is looking to Paris as world leaders gather in the city to open the UN Climate Summit (COP 21) where governments from more than 190 countries are expected to forge a new, global climate agreement that paves the way for an accelerated transition to a 100% renewable energy future.
For the first time ever over 150 countries have submitted national climate action plans known in technical UN-speak as INDCs. Submitted over the past 9 months these pledges, including some from countries who have never taken action before, can help to bend the curve of projected global warming closer to the internationally agreed target of of 2°C – or ideally 1.5°C. However they are not enough to achieve this goal alone, so the Paris Summit must build on them. MORE
In early 2015 the International Civil Society Centre launched the Building an Organisational Culture of Change working group, bringing together 23 civil society leaders and experts for an exciting research project. Exploring the transformation that international civil society organisations (ICSOs) must undertake to adapt to disruption, the group developed an outline of a culture that embraces change and identified concrete steps towards establishing such a culture specifically in ICSOs. The results appear in the recently released Be the Change report. Rebecca Masisak was a member of the working group, and writes below about how the report’s messaging relates to her experience as CEO of TechSoup.
Disruption in society, business and government circles creates new opportunities for civil society organisations (CSOs) to look for innovative ways to meet their mission objectives. MORE