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Shift-the-Power  Lab 2.0

For multiple years Partos has actively supported the ‘shift the power’ movement pushing for more equal power relationships within development cooperation. The community of practice ‘Shift the Power’ worked on identifying practical solutions for achieving more balanced power relations in international partnerships for development.  In the upcoming years, Partos will scale its efforts to accelerate the shift of power dynamics within international development cooperation by co-creating practical solutions for systems change. 

Read more about the 6 actions

Building upon past work and working complementary with international initiatives like the RINGO social lab, Partos is launching the Shift the Power Lab 2.0 (STP-Lab). Together with Partos members and international constituencies the STP-Lab works on four objectives. Focus is on:

  • Policy recommendations for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other institutional donors (action 1) 
  • Tools to facilitate organisational change among (I)NGOs (action 2,3,4)
  • Inclusive narratives and communication approaches within international development cooperation (action 5)
  • Research to learn about the (un)intended effects of shifting power strategies (action 6)

A Steering Committee ensures that actions under these objectives will constitute a well-orchestrated effort to change the system. Every action will be led by a lead individual or organization(s). On the 17th of May the leads will present the various lines of action under the Shift-the-Power Lab 2.0 providing the opportunity for development professionals to become active members of one of the following actions:

Action 1.

Recommendations for a more effective policy framework strengthening civil society

The Dutch Policy Framework for Strengthening Civil Society is internationally recognized as one of the most progressive of its kind. At the same time, according to the learnings from the Partos ‘Dream paper and the Partos Strategic Partnership Lab learning sessions, it can be concluded that there is a mismatch between the ambitions in the progressive policy framework and the actual practice and implementation in reality. Building on the work done under the Community of Practice in 2021 (see Dream paper) a working group, composed of a small group of dedicated experts, will develop policy recommendations to ensure that in the future Dutch policy for strengthening civil society will become even more effective. The working group will actively work together with a sounding board group and the Partos lobby network to facilitate synergy and maximum impact. Interested? Join the sounding board!

Lead: Heinz Greijn, Partos
Looking for: participants to join the sounding board

Action 2.

The Power Awareness Tool

Two years ago, Partos launched the Power Awareness Tool which helps partnerships to make power imbalances more visible, enabling partners to analyze and reflect on power relations. Given its success, it’s time to further develop a Power Awareness tool 2.0. First, an evaluation will be done with Radboud University after which an improved concept is aspired to be developed. Are you interested in co-creating an improved tool to bring power dynamics to the surface in partnerships, have you experience in using the tool or are you a potential user? Join this action!

Lead: Heinz Greijn, Partos
Looking for: participants to join the working group

Action 3.

Shift the Power - organizational 360 tool

The 360-degree assessment can be used to periodically gauge the progress an INGO is making in shifting power in their partnerships with international organizations/ southern partners. Through being able to monitor progress against a set of markers or benchmarks we hope to accelerate progress in policy/strategy implementation and impact by mapping where we are doing well and where we can improve and self-correct. The tool would contribute to both upward accountability – as a report to (I)NGO boards and horizontal or mutual accountability with international partners through a process of discussion and sense-making around key findings. The development of this tool will be done in close collaboration with BOND UK which is embarking on a similar project. Interested? Join this action!

Lead: Susan Wilkinson, Simavi
Looking for: participants to join the working group

Action 4.

Shift the Power - Atlas

Many tools and knowledge products are being developed and tested to facilitate more equal partnerships within international development cooperation. Which tools work well and what can we learn from them? A working group led by The Hunger Project and Butterfly Works will map all these initiatives and develop a Shift-the-Power Atlas where practitioners can find methods and tools that can help them to work according to the shift the power principles.

Lead: The Hunger Project, Butterfly Works & the Movement for Community-Led Development
Looking for: participants to join the working group

Action 5.

Handbook for inclusive communication

This action aspires to co-create more inclusive narratives and communications approaches for the sector with communication experts. The first prototype is aimed to focus on the development of a handbook for inclusive communication. The narratives used in development cooperation are littered with remnants of colonialism, racism, ethnocentrism and elitism. Because the metaphors and words used are an essential pillar supporting the system we have, a thorough reconstruction of our narratives is needed if we want to change the system. BOND and the Belgium NGO Federation have conducted pivotal work on which this working group will build, in close collaboration with the RINGO social lab. Interested in changing the narrative of development cooperation? Join this action!

Lead: Sera Koolmees, Partos
Looking for: participants to join the community of practice

Action 6.

Research on (un)intended effects of shift the power strategies

With a focus on Dutch INGOs and their Southern partner CSOs that are engaged in the Power-of-Voices strategic partnerships, a team of researchers will assess the effectiveness of concrete shift the power interventions. The findings of the study will be translated into policy implications for INGOs, CSOs, and back donors, such as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in such a way that they can be used as the basis for reflection, discussions, learning sessions, policy adjustment and training. Interested in supporting the research team in this groundbreaking research? Join this action!

Lead: A team of researchers from Radboud University, WUR and Manchester University
Looking for: participants to join the working group