Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sharing of responsibilities

The ICCO Alliance started a process of change five years ago in which key elements are a programmatic approach in which we try to influence systems rather than supporting individual projects, a sharing of responsibilities and a decentralization of ICCO's work to the regions. The South Asia regional conference on food security and conflict transformation was for me how these changes can be put to practice in the South Asia region.

The interaction and level of discussion during the first day made clear to me that South Asian civil society organizations are strong and definitely have the potential to take their work to a more advanced and strategic level with a matching increasing impact. Yet their are also still questions, challenges and uncertainties that can not simply be answered by the ICCO Alliance. It requires vision and above all courage from both members of the ICCO Alliance and their partners to develop new roads.

During the first day of the conference some very wise remarks were made about the existing divisions in the South Asia region. Yes there are political, ethnic, economic and religious divisions that do trouble the relations between governments in the region. But, as it was stressed, civil society organizations are well placed to overcome such divisions and point at the strengths of plurality. As they do not represent their governments they can transcend borders and come up with strong visions that reflect the will of the people to bring peace, harmony and respect for differences.

If such wisdom is to continue to dominate the conference, I'm very confident that the conference will prepare the ground for more successful cooperation within countries and within the region.

Harry Derksen
Projectleader Business Plan of the ICCO Alliance

Friday, 19 February 2010

Workshop on the WRR report on Dutch development aid

Today, a very lively ICCO Alliance debate on the WRR report on development took place at ICCO/KiA head office. The 40+ participants did represent the broad range of organisations in the Alliance. Not everybody had read the –extensive- report, but most were well aware of the major issues and the implications of the report's conclusions.

The editor of Vice Versa, Marc Broere, interviewed Harry Derksen, Jan van Doggenaar (both from ICCO) , Henk Jochemsen of Prisma and Ron Rijnbende of Edukans, who also acted as moderator for the two-hour session. They were asked to pinpoint the convincing issues in the report, the missed opportunities but especially to identify those themes in the report the Alliance would have to take seriously. These issues where then defined as the agenda for four break-out sessions, which gave the staff of the organisations present a good opportunity to discuss while at the same time getting to know each other.

The main conclusions the break-our groups came back with referred, amongst others, to the obvious lack of depth in what the WRR had to say about civil society and NGOs and the strange impression that, although the authors of the report say they don’t subscribe to the notion of grand projects, at the same time they seem to be advocating for such a grand design for Dutch development aid.

Jan van Doggenaar, ICCO Alliance

Ron Rijnbende, Edukans

Many people also pointed to the fact that poverty in the report is treated as a neutral phenomenon requiring ‘technical’ and organisational answers. That, together with an obvious lack of understanding of civil society operating between the state and the market, is evidence of the de-politicisation of poverty-related problems and, therefore, of development cooperation itself. The Alliance will have to engage in this debate publically, especially in these issues.

Henk Jochemsen, Prisma

Marc Broere, Vice Versa

Marc Broere gave Jack van Ham (ICCO Director)the opportunity to reflect on the issues coming back from the groups which he did with his usual enthusiasm.

The material coming out of this session will be used as input for information to be passed on to the the Alliance’s International Advisory Group meeting at the end of February and for the Partos-document that is being prepared in response to the WRR.

by Pim Verhallen

Related posts:

Friday, 5 February 2010

Public consultation on the World Bank Group Environment Strategy 2010

What should a new World Bank Group environment strategy look like? Which principles should form it? And which approach should the strategy propose to achieve the environmental sustainability of the WBG's portfolio?

To get feedback on these elements, the World Bank is currently engaging in a series of multi-stakeholder consultations, aiming at "building consensus on and ensure quality of the new Environment Strategy", to be completed and approved by December 2010.

Against this backdrop, on 2nd February 2010, ICCO hosted a multi-stakeholder public workshop with representative from the World Bank Group and some 40 participants from civil society, government and academia. The Environment Strategy Concept Note provided the basis for the discussion. Jeffrey Brez and Ywende Awe from the World Bank Group presented the main elements of the Concept Note, and explained the process that the Bank is following in order to develop its 2010 environment strategy - see their presentation.

The session proved to be very lively and interactive, with lots of inputs coming from the audience as well as from the discussants.

In particular, for Paul Wolvekamp, Deputy Director at Both ENDS, 2 key questions emerged. First and foremost, in 15/20 years, how the Bank will position itself, given the fact that its traditional line of business might get out of work? When it comes to the most pressing challenges of this century, where will the Bank find its own niche and be true to its own mission (to help people help themselves in the environment to be sustainable). Secondly, how can the Bank to allow indigenous people, farmers, women to be part of a decision making process the outcome of which will affect their future? Will the bank be able to ally itself with new partners, besides the "usual suspects"?

From his side, Prof. Ekko van Ierland (Wageningen University) thought that the public debate turned into a very productive afternoon. He stressed the importance of an ecosystem based approach for economic development and he hoped this concept will be integrated in the final World Bank environment strategy. He also commented on the initiative of the World Bank to involve multiple stakeholders in a consultative process to shape the strategy: only with public support for its activities, the Bank can play a stronger role in the future in the protection of the environment and poverty alleviation.

For Ywende Awe from the World Bank a variety of messages come up and she was very grateful for the inputs received. These include: the need to collaborate more with other development institutions; the urgency for the Bank to define the niche it wants and could fill; the importance to increase in a more structured and formal way the participation of civil society organisations in achieving environmental sustainability. In particular, the idea of an 'ecosystem based economic growth model' impressed her in a positive way, and she'll bring this back to Washington and feed it in the discussion with her colleagues at the Bank.

Lastly, Ad Ooms was very positive about the level and content of the debate, and was please that ICCO could contribute to and support the Bank public consultation by organising such an event. He also expressed ICCO interest in hosting another public workshop when a draft strategy is available.

See the video recording of the workshop.

See more video interviews with speakers at participants.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Become the change you want to see

We are “Appreciating the Programmatic Approach”. For two days now we have been sharing stories and experiences of what ICCO has been doing in the name of the Programmatic Approach from many parts of the world. A number of us in the group are consultants who come from those parts of the world often referred to as the “developing” world or even as “under-developed”, we come from Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We have been asked to study progress in the use of the programmatic approach in these parts of the world often defined by their need to develop and change.

But here we are in the ICCO compound in the heart of what is often thought of as the “developed” world. Our focus is meant to be on the ability of groups in far off countries to come together to collaborate and coordinate their efforts towards becoming more effective in their common purpose. But as we tell the stories the two parts of the world keep coming together. It becomes clear that the bigger story is not of one fixed and stable (developed) system intervening into systems that need change. The interventions are coming from a place where change is rampant, where the pain of real development is being acutely felt. It becomes clear from what is happening inside ICCO how deeply difficult it really is to let go of the old in order for the new to emerge.

In our conversations we explore themes of dependency, of power and powerlessness, of ownership and of new organisational forms. We recognise the critical role of leadership. As we draw learning from experience we are reminded of the Gandhian challenge to “become the change you want to see”.

James Taylor, CDRA - South Africa

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The "luxury" of selfreflection

Today I met James. James is working within an organization, that has the courage to take regularly a week of to learn. You may say: ”Yes that is good, we should all do this occasionally, take a week of to reflect and learn. Look for feed-back, get new insights and inspiration.” In the mean time I think: Yes I try also my best to reflect every month about what will be of importance with regard to my personal and my business goals. And again, whenever I have a ‘to do’ list I often take some time to think about my intentions, related to every item. This provides me with some of the energy of the end result, instead of with the energy of ‘having to do stuff’. And yes, I need a certain discipline, but it helps me to get results and attack even the more heavier jobs. So what was so special about James?

He said: “We do this every month. It is not just an occasional reflection week.” “Wow!” I said: “Every month, one week?” and he: “Yes we call it our home week”. Later on during lunch he explained more about how they organize it, what the permanent elements are and how they bring in creativity and specific themes. I just thought that it might be worth to consider, when he said: “I cannot anymore imagine who we would be without it.” Yes indeed it is about ‘being’ not ‘doing’. We talk a lot about learning organizations, but we need to ‘become’ the change we want to create.

On my way back home, I met a friend of mine in the train, she is heading a team of teachers and she referred directly to a recent reflection activity she had with her team and what it provided. Yes it is true, we can be our own best teachers. How would our world look like, I continued to think, when we reflected on a regular basis on our behaviour, our thinking and even our paradigms behind it? We would learn more from our self than from say consultants or the WRR.

Today was the first day of the “home week” of ICCO, a week of reflection about the programmatic approach. Congratulations ICCO for spending a whole week on learning about your own experiences in programmes. You are your own best source of wisdom. Take the opportunity to participate in appreciating the programmatic approach.

Domien Bruinsma (appreciation facilitator WA Cotton Programme)