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There is widespread consensus that in partnerships for development, too much power is in the hands of donors and international NGOs, while partners in the South lack agency. Despite the consensus, power imbalances persist. Apparently, translating theory into practice remains difficult. Why is there a counterproductive discrepancy and what is needed to change? The Community of Practice on Shifting Power addresses these core questions. 

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What is power

Power is the ability to influence decision making, mobilise resources and implement policies. Power more than often results in achievement, also in development cooperation. However, the distribution of power in current partnerships is often very uneven. Those with the most power, usually the donors, and to a lesser extent the INGOs, are not always the most knowledgeable about the local situation or about the change needed and how to achieve this. Shifting power to a Southern-based civil society organisation is important in order to realise lasting and locally-led social change, and to build partnerships that are effective and based on trust. 

Partos ‘shifting the power’

For multiple years Partos has been a driver of change within the ‘shift the power’ movement pushing for more equal power relationships within development cooperation. Below you can find an interesting collection of projects and initiatives that Partos has led or supported:

In the upcoming years, Partos will scale its efforts to accelerate the shift of power dynamics within international development cooperation. Together with our members and constituency, we aspire to:

  • Co-create policy recommendations for Partos members and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs through our Community of Practice Shift the Power and Strategic Partnership Lab.
  • Pilot practical solutions for systems change with the RINGO social lab
  • Co-create more inclusive narratives and communications approaches for the sector with communication experts
  • Develop an Inclusion & diversity benchmark to support Partos members in their journey to become more inclusive & diverse
  • And continue to improve the ‘Power Awareness tool’, create knowledge products like the Future Brief and organise dialogues and debates like the Decolonisation of Aid series.
Transparency note

This partnership is financially supported by the Civil Society Strengthening Program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the strengthening of southern ownership is a shared ambition.