Monday, 14 September 2009

IWC09: A new way of working

“A power shift","An open environment", "A meeting without decisions already made", "A chance to put our hands where our mouths are”. These are some of the sentences used by Jack van Ham in his introduction to the pre-meeting of the ICCO Alliance Working Conference.

In traditional meetings of this type normally much of the material would have been prepared before the event and participants would have discussed decisions already formulated in advance. Instead, this International Working Conference provides the opportunity to do things differently: participants will be working during the all week to "go home on Friday with new thoughts and ideas on how the ICCO Alliance will be working in the coming years."

Jack continues: "Do we have the courage to start this adventure? Is it possible to find common grounds among the different cultures involved in this process? We'll see Friday if we succeeded." However, defining a new way of working is paramount, as development cooperation has changed and there is a clear power-shift happening. An example of these is the case of the ICCO Alliance approaching a community in India to purchase carbon credits. This power shift where a donor becomes a customer for carbon credits and a poor community is selling a product changes the perspective. Clearly, we need to adapt to it.

Besides, the environment for the Alliance is changing in other ways too. Tomorrow the Government budget negotiations in the Netherlands will be held. This will probably mean a 700 million Euro cutback for development. This means the group will need new ways to be more creative with the money we have.

There is a great expectation, but also some nervousness, about the degree to which this IWC can put these new ideas into action, to in effect "put our hands where our mouth is." There is also excitement that new thoughts and ideas can emerge and that the group of participants can take co-responsibility for the way forward.

The pre-conference workshop is focussing on governance issues and structure, with participants discussing how the new governance structure will be working and outlining the mandate and roles of the different actors involved.

Participants will also have the opportunity to share and to discover their expectations of this working conference, and get to know each others.

Jack's final remark set the tone for the rest of the conference: "If you don’t have purpose it doesn’t matter how you work; if you do have a purpose, you need to agree how you want to work; if you want to walk fast, then walk alone; but if you want a sustainable solution you have to walk together."

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