Webinar on system change for more effective partnerships
On 10 September the Community of Practice (CoP) Shift-the-Power will organise a webinar on system change for more effective partnerships. The webinar will start with an update on what the CoP has accomplished so far. We will also discuss what is needed to change the development cooperation system into an enabling environment for Northern and Southern CSOs to engage in partnerships that are based on mutual respect, understanding and synergy between partners. The partnerships should also make better use of Southern partners’ knowledge and legitimacy and thus become more effective.
In November last year, the Partos Community of Practice Shift-the-Power was kicked off. Since then, two working groups have carried out important preliminary work for our next move which, we hope, will contribute substantively to a new generation of policies and practices in development cooperation.
What we have accomplished so far
The work focused on the strategic partnerships shaped by the Policy Framework for Strengthening Civil Society: Power of Voices Partnerships (PoV). One working group focused on trying to understand why such policies and programs almost invariably lead to power imbalances between Dutch and Southern CSOs. Fourteen factors were identified that can explain why this is the case. A second working group made an inventory of corrective measures undertaken by members of Partos and their partners to counteract the forces that cause power imbalances, within the bandwidth that the current system allows.
Our next challenge
In the third working group, we will focus on how the system needs to be changed. The approach to this challenge is as follows:
- We will continue focusing on the Policy Framework for Strengthening Civil Society and on developing innovative ideas for the next generation of policy frameworks in this field beyond 2026. The fact that we focus on a very specific donor that we know very well, and that is at the same time receptive to ideas about new ways of working together in partnerships, provides an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. It also puts us in a position that we can make a unique contribution to the discussions about power in other global networks and platforms.
- Building on the system analysis conducted in working groups one and two, we will engage in three steps that are worked out in more detail in this document:
- Step 1 will be an envisioning process. The core question to be addressed: Let’s imagine how a balanced power relationship between Dutch and Southern CSO looks like and how it could emerge?
- In step 2 we will address the question What kind of change is needed in the system to make the envisioned situation of balanced power relations happen?
- In step 3 we will take action to bring about change.
The envisioning process will start with the webinar on 10 September. The purpose of this webinar will be to develop a rather detailed picture of how relations between Dutch and Southern CSO should ideally be like. We will go beyond making a list of principles. We will not limit the discussion to power issues concerning decision-making, or the management of finances. We will elaborate on the entire spectrum of revised roles, responsibilities, modalities for risk sharing, change in mindsets and culture needed to bring about real change including how agendas are set, by whom, how different agendas and interests can be consolidated or harmonised.
Invite your partners from the South to also register for the webinar
We urgently need your Southern partners to join this webinar because it would be pointless to think about the partnerships we want, without them. Southern partners have always been more than welcome to fully participate in all CoP activities. Unfortunately, only a few have joined so far. Please help us reach out to them again.
Join the working group
Furthermore, we hope to expand the working group. At the moment, we have 10 participants. Of those 10, only two represent Southern partners. If you want to walk far, walk together. We need many more members of Partos and their Southern partners to join working group 3 to find the pathways to system change that will work. Therefore, we want to urge all of you to join the working group and invite your Southern partners to do the same.
Register here for the webinar on system change for more effective partnerships!