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Partos Innovation Hub | Trends to watch in 2022

What trends will open up new opportunities for shaping a new international development system? Alexander Medik anticipates three trends to watch in 2022. We look forward to exploring these (and more) opportunities, together with you through the Partos Innovation Hub. Stay updated about the latest news and upcoming presentations, workshops, hackathons, festivals and much more. No strings attached.



Global Public Investment

Disrupting the international development system and creating new avenues for international solidarity

This year COVID-19 will continue to test the norms of international solidarity and the way countries will or will not support each other. The pandemic can lead to bigger inequality. However, the crisis could also create new avenues for international solidarity, stronger civil society and innovative approaches to tackle global problems. The COVID-19 response, but also the Paris Climate Agreement have revealed that global problems cannot be tackled by countries working in isolation. Is it possible to create a new infrastructure for international solidarity with an ongoing pool of public money to facilitate international collaborative problem-solving? Global Public Investment (GPI) is a relatively new approach that provides a new model for international solidarity.

Think of GPI as a new way to fund global public goods, like a COVID-19 vaccine, climate change mitigation and financing the Sustainable Development Goals. GPI could increase the supply of global public goods that governments are hesitant to provide because it is usually easier to free ride on existing efforts. GPI could also meet the shortfalls in the international development system. Yes, development is very important.  However, we do need to imagine better models. International development is unidirectional and facilitates unequal power relationships but GPI could create a shared pool of public money in which all countries have an equal share. GPI could represent a percentage of each government’s gross national income. Each government would pay according to its ability and receive financial support based on their needs, including richer countries. Rich and poor countries alike would use their portion of the financial support to finance internationally agreed programmes in the public interest. The Expert Working Group on Global Public Investment explains it as follows:


The new system needs to be truly global, with all countries contributing, all benefiting, and all having a say in what decisions are made. It needs to respond to the massive global challenges we face in the 21st century, and the opportunities we have to make the world a better place.


The new system must be built with public money at its core because it needs to respond to the public will, be held accountable by the public, and be directed at public goods, services and infrastructure. Private money will be crucial as well, but it can’t substitute for the unique nature of public spending.


And we need to think of this system as an investment intended to realise social and economic returns, through building social infrastructure and securing the provision pathways of complex global public goods which would otherwise go under-supplied (if left to individual nations and private actors alone).

Will GPI become the future of international solidarity? Will GPI create a paradigm shift for international development? Who knows. Fact is that GPI is being supported by a fast-growing group of experts from bi-laterals, multi-laterals, big philanthropy, civil society, academia and activists. Interested to learn more? Check out the website of global public investment, listen to the podcast of Disrupt Development or read the book of Jonathan Glenie: The future of Aid – Global Public Investment.


Re-inventing leadership & organisational structures

Shifting power inside organisations   

The development sector is exploring new ways of shifting power to the global south. Publications on this topic abound and seminars and debates are organised almost weekly. Within this ongoing dialogue, there seems to be widespread agreement that power asymmetries – within the sector itself and in the broader global system – are a root cause of many development problems, and hence, should be a prime concern for development cooperation efforts. Partos published a Future Brief to navigate the vast amount of information out there that I would strongly recommend reading.

But how is power distributed inside those organisations that need to re-balance the unequal power distribution within the sector? How are decisions made within organisations and by whom? Although much progress has been made, the majority of the leaders in the sector are still white and male, and organisations are still hierarchically organised. Fortunately, more frequently new leadership and organisational models are being adopted, aiming to correct the power imbalances of today.

An inspiring leadership model is the ‘feminist leadership’ concept that is developed mainly by women’s movements from the Global South. First, let’s explore what feminist leadership is not about: it’s not about women being in leadership positions, it’s not about powerful charismatic leaders spearheading changes, and it’s not only about women. The fundament of feminist Leadership is about creating alternatives to ‘old fashioned, hierarchical leadership and vertical organisational cultures. This can take many different forms, from sharing power, critical self-reflection on the individual level to developing new decision-making structures on the collective level. Over the last years, thanks in part to the work of feminist human rights organisation CREA in India, it has started to make its way into the international development sector, with non-profits such as Action Aid and Oxfam GB embracing and implementing Feminist Leadership as part of their organisational strategy. Check out this video of CIVICUS Secretary-General Lysa John about what organisations can do to nurture Feminist Leadership.

In order for Feminist Leadership principles to thrive people need to change their belief systems about how organizations are being organized. At the current moment still, most organizations are structured hierarchically like a pyramid for a simple reason; it is a consequence of the boss-subordinate relationship. In the most influential management book of the last decade ‘Reinventing Organizations‘, Frederic Laloux introduces concepts and practices of a new generation of organisations that moved beyond the boss-subordinate relationships and traditional principles of power, ego, control, status, and made the leap to create equal and inclusive organisational structures where power is distributed horizontally. This new generation of organisations fully embrace and celebrate the principles of ‘feminist leadership’. Check out this video of Laloux talking with the Dalai Lama about ‘reinventing organisations’ or explore this library more for more resources.

There are many initiatives that explore the future of the development sector but what will the future of leadership look like? Are we vulnerable enough to move beyond our own egos and let go of the power that we hold as directors, managers and staff in general? Are we courageous enough to change our belief systems about how we organise ourselves? Are we ambitious enough to shift the power within our own organisations?


Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Next fundraising frontier

NFTs have been grabbing headlines all year. From digital art sales to people claiming NFTs serve no goal, there is a lot of interest in this next fundraising frontier. Currently, the popularity of NFT is focused on its model of ownership for digital objects around artists and musicians. While critics wonder if NFTs have any purpose beyond the current ‘hype’, non-profits find them a valuable tool for fundraising.

An NFT is a “Non-Fungible Token”, not exactly the most glamorous name for something hitting close to $70m USD at a Christie’s auction house. An NFT is basically a form of data, often consisting of music or art which is stored on the blockchain (the same technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc). This piece of data is in the form of a ‘token’ that can be bought and resold.  Often each time it is sold a royalty can be paid to the original artist or beneficiary such as a non-profit in a cryptocurrency. Often these NFTs are traded on platforms such as Nifty Gateway, opensea, rariableandcryptograph - the latter having built-in charitable support for many nonprofits.

Some non-profits have already familiarised themselves with alternate donations, especially cryptocurrency.  Interest in donations in cryptocurrency increased during lockdowns because in-person charity events were no longer possible. Also, these types of donations are permissionless and borderless, making donations from across the world more accessible.

Many non-profits and institutions have been accepting cryptocurrency donations for a while. The American Red Cross has been accepting bitcoin since 2014. UNICEF launched its CryptoFund in 2019 in order to be able to accept bitcoin and ether, and the number of non-profits using it is significantly growing. In addition, crypto start-ups such as The Giving Block are linking non-profits with the ability to receive donations in crypto. The Giving Block platform supports smaller or uninformed non-profits to create an infrastructure for crypto-donations.

Now, NFTs are the next fundraising frontier. Unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs provide something beyond a direct monetary donation. NFTs have allowed non-profits, celebrities, and individuals to auction off their digital creations, with all the proceeds going to a non-profit of their choice.  Beeple, the artist who still holds the record for the most expensive NFT ever sold, auctioned another NFT for a non-profit. The artwork sold for $6 million. The profits went to the Open Earth Foundation. The show the artwork was part of was for the financial support of the foundation.

NFTs are impacting the development sector. “We see a huge increase in donations related to NFTs,” notices Alex Wilson, co-founder of The Giving Block.

We are witnessing the birth of ‘crypto altruism’ and ‘crypto fundraising’. Millions have already been donated to non-profits through NFTs. Does your fundraising strategy include crypto fundraising? Interested to learn more? Check out the website of The Giving Block, this explainer video or a podcast on how to create perpetual non-profit donations.


Partos Innovation Hub

The Partos Innovation Hub will further explore these and many other trends in 2022. The Partos Innovation Hub is a hybrid ecosystem where development professionals interact, create, inspire, experiment, learn and innovate together to become better able to navigate the future and accelerate change on individual, organisational and systemic levels. Are you interested to stay updated about our webinars, workshops, hackathons, festivals and much more? Subscribe to our newsletter. No strings attached.