Toby Porter

16 February, 2016

I am writing this blog at Zurich airport, on my way back from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos. Extreme global inequality was rightly a recurrent, prominent theme throughout the four-day meeting, again galvanised by the skilful publication by Oxfam of their calculations regarding the proportion of the world’s overall wealth held by the richest very few.

What is becoming clear, however, is that many civil society organisations (CSOs), working at national level, perceive a not dissimilar inequality in the global development and humanitarian system. Take the figure quoted in the run-up to the World Humanitarian Summit in May – a mere 10 CSOs are said to deliver 90% of the overall CSO share of global humanitarian assistance. Not surprisingly, there are a great many voices starting to say that this too is highly inequitable, and needs to change.

Older campaigners march in Haiti © Josph Jn-Florley/HelpAge International

In a recent blog for Devex I suggested that it was time for us CSOs to look at merging or outsourcing many of their functions at country level. Partly this is a matter of basic efficiency, starting to eliminate the obvious and widespread duplication in the current collective operational footprints in the countries and regions where we operate. MORE

Wolfgang Jamann

9 February, 2016

“In a slow moving world, all the organisation needs is a good CEO. In a faster context, teamwork at the top is necessary to deal with transformations, almost all the time.” (J.P. Kotter, Harvard Business School)

Dr. Wolfgang Jamann meets with refugees at Slavonski Brod camp for Migrants in Serbia. January 2016. Photo: Srdjan Veljovic/CARE

Most of those leading and managing civil society organisations (CSOs) have embraced the idea of responding to disruption and rapidly changing work environments. We invest in innovation, in culture and behaviour change; we restructure, go south, globalise, seek new roles and partnerships. International CSOs (ICSOs) exchange experiences, successes and failures, and most of us believe in transformation – not the least because transforming people’s lives is the core of our business. MORE

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen

2 February, 2016

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

Burkhard Gnärig

26 January, 2016

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

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka

19 January, 2016

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 Cecilia Nyambeki cooperates with the Kenyan CSO NACHU and is being interviewed by Nyokabi Kahura for a reportage at www.sida.seworld’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

John Bines

12 January, 2016

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 [1] was born. Later and after an awkward courtship, Development settled down with Globalisation and, soon after, Collaboration was born.

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Burkhard Gnärig

5 January, 2016

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?Cartoon_Blog_Social_Media

Here are three courageous ideas which may help you start the transformation in your organisation: MORE

Burkhard Gnärig

22 December, 2015

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 key strategic trends of 2015 scribingtowards 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

Kumi Naidoo

15 December, 2015

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: Photo by Elizabeth Stillwell, creative commons image via FlickrAfter 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

Alexia Skok

8 December, 2015

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.


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