New – 2020 events and programme flyer, find out what’s on and what we are doing

18th December 2019 by Thomas Howie
nternational Civil Society Centre - Events

Welcome to our 2020 flyer. You can download or view the flyer below to find out about what we plan to do this year and how you can get involved.

Download 2020 Flyer (PDF)

 

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Why we’re looking forward to foresight in 2020

16th December 2019 by Vicky Tongue

Download the Scanning the Horizon 2020 flyer

Looking forward to 2020 might seem a bit short for a group of strategists and horizon scanners, but we’re pretty excited about the state of foresighting and futures in our sector at the moment. And here’s why: there’s some great work and resources that we’re seeing both done in and shared by some of the international civil society organisations in our Scanning the Horizon community at the moment.

New foresighting and futures resources: The Future Is Ours, thanks to Save the Children…

First of all, there are some fantastic new resources around. JM Roche at Save the Children, with the School of International Futures, has just done everyone in our sector a fantastic favour and pulled together a compendium of 12 strategic foresight tools and techniques which they have successfully adapted for their own and partner use. The Future is Ours is out now and immediately essential reading for anyone involved in strategy, planning and decision-making in our sector.

This guide walks you through a number of tools, why you would use which and when, with helpful facilitation notes. Key tips overall include: being open to a range of possible futures, pay attention to weak signals, practice foresight regularly, and integrate and embed insights. Sounds like four great New Year’s Resolutions to me! You can also join us for a webinar with JM on 30 January to hear him introduce this in person.

…and understanding the rise of global China may be somewhat more manageable now

This year, our Scanning the Horizon community did our first ever ‘deep dive’ on one of the most major influential megatrends, the rise of global China. We’ve just put out our Sector Guide of strategic recommendations for ICSOs, and hearing some great feedback from our community. Amnesty’s China Strategy Manager Heather Hutchings has already shared a bit of an informal reflection on ‘benchmarking’ itself against our findings, in this excellent blog in case you missed it.

You can also catch up on our webinars which feature our author and researcher Bertram Lang providing more context ‘meat’ to flesh out the ‘bones’ of the recommendations, and explaining more on where and why there was consensus and divergence among the ICSOs involved.

The Sector Guide has been a cumulative process throughout the year, building on interviews and experience-sharing with global and China strategists, as well as country or regional management, from most of the top international ICSOs working both in and beyond the boundaries of mainland China. We’ve incorporated additional insights from ‘China watchers’ from academia and philanthropy, and highlighted some of the priorities and need to engage with local community-based organisations.

This has been a huge topic to explore and make more navigable in practical ways for our sector. We worked carefully with our community to find the right way to break it down into key sub-themes and entry points for strategists. While the recommendations might not all be straightforward, they lay out an ambition and signpost some directions of travel, which can help steer organisations in these unpredictable waters. What this collaborative exploration proved most though was the enormous value of bringing the major and diverse players in our sector together to share their different experiences and capacities. We have seen again the enormous power in co-producing new knowledge and insights, which can then be shared with the rest of our sector.

We also love what we’re hearing from other recent strategy processes

At our recent Global Perspectives conference in Addis Ababa, we were very excited by a presentation from Plan International on the scenarios they have been using – looking at the combination of climate change and nationalism in different future world’s scenarios, and what each might mean for the organisation’s place in the world.

We also heard how Oxfam International’s recent global strategy process included meeting with a ‘critical chorus’ of external voices, some of which told them some challenging things, but triggered a range of important and reflective conversations to guide thinking of the different roles the organisation may have in future.

And IFRC’s new 2030 strategy has clearly put climate action as the main priority for its programmes and appeals. The other key challenges it has identified are crises and disasters, health, migration and identity, and values, power and inclusion.

We look forward to learning more, together, about these and other exciting developments.

So here’s to the New Year and what we will be doing in 2020!

Taking inspiration from these developments, and also what we’re seeing from outside the sector, our annual meeting in May 2020 will bring our community together to explore more how the global trends influencing our work are interconnected and intersect to bring about different potential futures, and how to better integrate this analysis into organisational strategic planning.

We will have a collective check-up on the trends we’re all watching as organisations. We will explore tools and practical processes for intersectional approaches and take a look at the detailed scenarios ICSOs are seeing, with a special emphasis on climate change + (one or several trends). We will invite input from beyond the sector, with private, public and academic sector insights. And, with funding, we will deliver another Sector Guide this time next year summarising our insights for the sector.

Our monthly newsletters throughout 2019 have been packed with new resources from within and beyond our sector, but there are so many things we just can’t keep out! A lot of careful curation goes into what the Centre and Direct Impact Group summarise and share with our community each month, and we’ll continue these efforts to keep bringing you the best throughout 2020!

 

 

Vicky Tongue

Programme Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Vicky Tongue is the International Civil Society Centre’s Programme Manager, co-ordinating core initiatives on horizon scanning, innovation and peer convening for CEOs and Global Heads of Division. Vicky has 15 years’ senior programme management with several leading UK-based ISCOs, including Marie Stopes International, Article 19, CAFOD, ODI and Save the Children.

5 lessons for inclusive civil society action

13th December 2019 by Yannicke Goris

With the turn of the decade fast approaching, it is that time of year to take stock of our progress and look ahead to the coming year. 2020 will mark the fifth anniversary of the ratification of the SDGs and the start of the ‘decade of action’ to deliver on the Agenda 2030. Central to this agenda is the pledge to ‘Leave No One Behind’, but with only ten years to go, it is worrying to see so many people continue to be excluded from society because of who they are or who they love; because of what they do, have or don’t have; or because of where or how they live their lives. Today, we stand at a crucial moment in time: If we want to realise a future where no one is left behind, we must act now and take concrete steps to make inclusion a reality for everyone, everywhere. Earlier this year, The BrokerPartos and its innovation platform The Spindle published Digital Dalits and Colourful Carroças, a colourful book that celebrates the many amazing ways in which civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world are fighting for inclusion. Much can be learned from their creative initiatives. This article highlights the 5 most important lessons that will guide civil society towards an inclusive 2020 and beyond.

  1. Be creative, use art

Creativity is often an absolute necessity for CSOs to overcome the practical or legal obstacles they face. It can also be a source of energy and joy, and a way to foster inclusion and togetherness. In Brazil’s capital São Paulo, for instance, waste collectors push trash carts adorned with colourful artworks and creative slogans. These carts are decorated by artists that have joined Pimp My Carroça, a Brazilian CSO that works to promote the inclusion and recognition of waste collectors of Brazil. Its artworks are not only making waste collectors more visible in a literal sense, they are also instrumental in building bridges between local communities and waste pickers, ensuring that the latter are recognized as citizens vital for the city.

  1. Use tech, be innovative — but don’t abandon what already works

To push us in the direction of equality and inclusion, we need to make use of the opportunities generated by our technological advances. In Tanzania, a used cargo container has been transformed into a solar-powered digital skills lab, and in India, the Dalit community has employed social media to address social stigmas and ensure their inclusion in the public sphere. At the same time, we should not lose sight of the millions of people without access to hi-tech solutions, nor should we abandon all the old strategies that have worked for generations past. Looking afresh at proven methods and using them to reach those left behind may, in some cases, be the right way forward.

  1. Ask, listen, learn and put the most affected in the lead

To understand what barriers people are facing and develop programmes that truly match their needs, it is crucial not only to include them in programme design and implementation, but also to learn from their local insights and put them firmly in the driver seat of their own development. FRIDA, the Young Feminist Fund, recognises that local women are most knowledgeable about what is needed for their inclusion and empowerment. Therefore, FRIDA lets grassroots organizations decide together where the available funding should go.

  1. Make the invisible visible

Who are the people who are left behind? Do we have any idea how and where to find them? Those who are left furthest behind are often the ones who face multiple intersecting disadvantages at the same time, making them more vulnerable and, worryingly, less visible. Because of their intersecting disadvantages, these people run the risk of falling through the cracks, not only in development programmes, but also in data collection efforts. Forming an inclusive world must begin with a thorough understanding of who the excluded are. This requires accurate data, an intersectional mindset and a willingness to take an extra step to include those who are out of our immediate reach.

  1. Challenge the system

Civil society actions that promote inclusion can, in addition to supporting particular groups or specific areas, also contribute to broader systemic change. India’s deeply-rooted caste system will not disappear any time soon, but the Dalits’ social media campaign to draw attention to the abuse of their girls is a small step in the right direction. The many homeless people in the US will not get housing overnight, but the ‘You Don’t Need a Home to Vote’ campaign is making a small dent in the system that is keeping them from participating in politics. And while the digital gender divide is still disturbingly wide, initiatives like Code to Inspire (CTI) in Afghanistan, are sowing the seeds for a generation of tech-savvy young women who may change the system in years to come. What all these initiatives teach us is that the system — with time, effort and courage — can be changed, that inclusion is a goal we can achieve. Ridding our system of deeply rooted exclusionary practices however, requires continuous and immediate action. And, more importantly, it demands that we work together. We cannot challenge the system alone: we must join forces, walk together as equals and leave no one behind on the path to inclusion.

To learn more about the complexities of inclusion and get inspired by more wonderful stories of civil society initiatives from around the world, you can download Digital Dalits, Colourful Carroças here. For more information, send an email to Yannicke Goris, Managing Knowledge Broker at The Broker: yannicke@thebrokeronline.eu.

Yannicke Goris

Managing Knowledge Broker

The Broker

Yannicke is a managing knowledge broker with a specialization in the field of civic action and social movements. She previously worked for the INCLUDE knowledge platform on inclusive development and is currently responsible for a variety of Broker projects on civil society activism and global governance. Yannicke holds a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Tilburg University and a Research Master’s degree in political history from Radboud University Nijmegen. Her professional interests include democratization processes, political participation, social movements, civil society and human rights.

Podcast: Can understanding psychology help rise above populism?

5th December 2019 by Thomas Howie

This podcast is part of Innovation Report 2019 Futures thinking section, check it out for more futures and innovation. Our Innovation Report is all about civil society responses to populism. It has 14 worldwide case studies and 6 key recommendations for all civil society organisations.

Links

 

Mindbridge – https://mindbridgecenter.org/
How the brain works in relation to human rights – https://www.openglobalrights.org/brain-research-suggests-emphasizing-human-rights-abuses-may-perpetuate-them/
Listen on iTunes – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/civil-society-futures-and-innovation-podcast/id1485180683?i=1000455183811
Listen on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/episode/6kPRXlPFMNkLPXlZFjSemT?si=Kw038zTPQSe3fm0HkPlW8Q
Heinrich Böll Stiftung – https://www.boell.de/en/startpage

Understanding how audiences interpret and react to populist and civil society messages. Laura Ligouri from Mindbridge explains how integrating neuroscience and psychology learnings can help civil society organization innovate their messages to engage and persuade new audiences. Produced with support by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

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Links
Mindbridge – https://mindbridgecenter.org/
How the brain works in relation to human rights – https://www.openglobalrights.org/brain-research-suggests-emphasizing-human-rights-abuses-may-perpetuate-them/
Listen on iTunes – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/civil-society-futures-and-innovation-podcast/id1485180683?i=1000455183811
Listen on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/episode/6kPRXlPFMNkLPXlZFjSemT?si=Kw038zTPQSe3fm0HkPlW8Q
Heinrich Böll Stiftung – https://www.boell.de/en/startpage

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Podcast: Can humour fix the world?

5th December 2019 by Thomas Howie

This podcast is part of Innovation Report 2019 Futures thinking section, check it out for more futures and innovation. Our Innovation Report is all about civil society responses to populism. It has 14 worldwide case studies and 6 key recommendations for all civil society organisations.

Links

The Yes Men – https://theyesmen.org/about
Listen on iTunes – https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/can-humour-fix-the-world/id1485180683?i=1000455565152
Listen on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/episode/50MOF9Fx1HtBq9iXiDJZHZ?si=mQa4kJ54TgaQvWoutRQLlQ
Supported by: Heinrich Böll Stiftung – https://www.boell.de/en/startpage

Creative and humourous campaigning can capture public attention and imagination on serious and complex issues. The overall effect is to shine a light and make more accessible complex issues. Interview with Keil Troisi from the Yes Men. Produced with support by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

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Links
The Yes Men – https://theyesmen.org/about
Listen on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/can-humour-fix-the-world/id1485180683?i=1000455565152
Listen on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/episode/50MOF9Fx1HtBq9iXiDJZHZ?si=mQa4kJ54TgaQvWoutRQLlQ
Supported by: Heinrich Böll Stiftung – https://www.boell.de/en/startpage

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Leave No One Behind news round-up

5th December 2019 by Thomas Howie

The Leave No One Behind project was launched in late 2017 as a partnership of 12 international civil society organizations (ICSOs). In 2018, the partnership set up national coalitions in 5 pilot countries (Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam), bringing together national NGOs and civic platforms, as well as community-based organisations. Here we round up some news from a couple of our pilot countries:

India: New study published as part of Leave No One Behind

Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (Don’t break your promise) launched a new study: ‘The 100 Hotspots: a snapshot of socially excluded vulnerable population groups and SDGs in India’. It is a first of its kind study on the less recognised population groups in India and their status in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A recent blog by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan featured on Feedback labs explains what the study shows and how it fits into the Leave No One Behind project

Read the blog: 100 Hotspots: Making Socially Excluded Voices Heard and Count in India

Bangladesh: Leave No One Behind gets national coverage

A recent conference organisaed by the project partners in Bangladesh received widespread national media coverage. With several highprofile contirbutions from NGO Affairs Bureau, UNDP and the Project Partners there was plenty to discuss and to carry forward into future work.

Read news: Speakers: Mindset must change for inclusive development

Read news: Three crore marginalised people out of dev process

 

 

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Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Innovation Report, get involved!

5th December 2019 by Thomas Howie

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Our first-ever Innovation Report: Civil Society Innovation and Populism in a Digital Era features stories from people around the world who devised strategies, sometimes unintentionally, to respond to the challenges associated with populism. These are inspiring stories, full of innovation and creativity. We believe they can help others change and improve their world, that’s why we’re sharing them. To do this we need your help.

Below are some simple actions you can take to share inspiration that can be the creative spark in people and organisations, creativity that unites people and communities.

Additionally, we are still collecting stories, to grow our online report with your stories, ideas and actions for a stronger civil society sector. Here’s how you can help spread the word or contribute to our living report:

Actions

  • Join the webinar (Janaury 14 2020): Online Innovation Report launch: Civil Society Innovation and Populism in a Digital Era
  • Promote your own story or futures thinking; we want to hear your examples of Innovation or what you think the future might look like, no matter how small. Just drop the Programme Manager Vicky Tongue an email to say you are interested
  • Share it with your colleagues, especially those working in communications or futures thinking. The case studies feature practical examples from which they could learn.
  • Invite us to an event or lunchtime discussion, we’d love to join your event or team in person or virtually to have conversation on civil society innovation with you and answer your questions about this report.
  • Tell us if the report is useful, or how we can improve it. Send Vicky an email or a tweet.

2020 Innovation Report

We will soon kick off the process for our 2020 report on ‘Civil Society Innovation and Urban Inclusion’. If you already want to register an interest in being part of this report please send Programme Manager Vicky Tongue an email to say you are interested

, ,

Thomas Howie

Communications Coordinator

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.

A new playbook for international civil society to put into action solidarity

5th December 2019 by Miriam Niehaus

A new playbook for international civil society to put into action solidarity

 

Together with a newly formed Working Group of international civil society organisation (ICSO) and CSO colleagues, the International Civil Society Centre is now embarking on the next phase of developing a Solidarity Playbook.

 

For years now, civil society worldwide is facing increasing restrictions to their freedoms of association, assembly, expression and exchange of information. Likewise, their reputations have been consistently attacked. Human rights activists have always been targeted, however, even large ICSOs are now coming under pressure. There are growing fears over staff safety and the ability to deliver essential operations in varied contexts. Even when size does offer some cover, their partners are attacked. In turn, they require support and solidarity. 

Many global coalitions have responded by making calls to action aimed at “providing solidarity”, and yet even in our highly value-driven sector, it often proves difficult to get the results we all hope for. 

 

Why is solidarity playbook needed and how can it help international CSOs show “solidarity”?

 

Many organisations shy away from public proclamations of solidarity as they do not want to put staff members and operations at risk. Through many stakeholder conversations, the Centre has identified the need to approach solidarity differently and enable collective learning on how ICSOs can better support each other and their partners, particularly in contexts where confrontational advocacy is not an avenue they can pursue. Our conversations show that the need and the desire to cooperate better between different strands of civil society has never been bigger and our opportunity to turn this challenge into an opportunity never greater.

The International Civil Society Centre is working with ICSOs and their CSO partners to develop a new playbook for solidarity and cooperation, to be able to better respond to the clampdown, to be better prepared and to push back to the boundaries of what civil society restrictions have come to be. 

 

The Centre commissioned a study on ICSO response mechanisms and national civic space coalitions to assess where we are collectively and to begin sharing and learning from each other. This study “Solidarity in Times of Scrutiny” was shared with some 40 delegates of the International Civic Forum, convened by the Centre on 29 October 2019 in Addis Ababa. The delegates, colleagues from ICSOs, CSOs and philanthropy, highly valued the space for exchange and the Centre’s initiative to facilitate shared learning and re-envision our solidarity mechanisms. They provided ideas and feedback for the Solidarity Playbook. The Centre is currently reviewing and discussing with the Working Group how to turn feedback and ideas into a format that best serves the sector. Throughout 2020, the Centre will be leading the development of the Playbook together with the Working Group and with the help of an Advisory Group. At the end of 2020, the playbook will be launched at the International Civic Forum. 

 

Should you be interested in finding out more or joining our Advisory Group, please contact the project manager Miriam Niehaus (mniehaus@icscentre.org). 

Miriam Niehaus

Securing Civic Rights Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Miriam joined the Centre in 2014 as an Executive Assistant. In 2016 she took on her role as Manager of the Securing Civic Rights projects, namely the Civic Charter and the International Civic Forum. Prior to joining the Centre Miriam worked for VSO International and GIZ in the Palestinian Territories. She holds a BA in Islamic Studies and Social Anthropology from the University of Freiburg and an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies.