ICSOs and intergenerational fairness: Why long term thinking is important and empowering in today’s whirly world

28th July 2021 by Vicky Tongue and Julie Jenson Bennett

The Centre’s new Scanning the Horizon Sector Guide on ‘Strategic Decision-Making in a Whirly World’, explores five main strategic pointers for civil society decision-making and adaptation in complex, uncertain ‘never normal’ futures. To further explore the fifth strategic pointer, ‘Rethink adaptable strategies to embrace emergent change with-in a long-term view’, we recently ran leadership and strategy events with two of our strongly recommended resources, including the School of International Futures (SOIF)’s exciting work on intergenerational fairness.

In this blog, Vicky Tongue, the Centre’s Head of Futures and Innovation, and Julie Jenson Bennett, Practice Lead, Intergenerational Fairness, School of International Futures, reflects on how ICSOs can contribute to and benefit from long-term intergenerational thinking and practice.

Intergenerational fairness as an important skillset for a whirly world

Embracing the ‘Long Now’ is one strategy to help navigate a ‘whirly’, uncertain world, stretching responsibility over longer timescales – beyond a human lifetime – and giving a bigger picture to short-term turbulence. It helps crisis decision-making to elevate long-term equity and extends ‘legacy’ thinking to help identify what should be kept from the past, what should be unlearned in the present, and what is still needed to avoid future-loading major risks from important decisions made today.

All big current global issues have huge intergenerational fairness and equity dimensions, both between different generations alive today but also not yet born. Intergenerationally fair policies and strategic decisions allow people of all ages to meet their needs, and meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ICSOs have an important role in ensuring that decision-makers take such considerations into account beyond current political cycles. But they also have a responsibility to ensure that their own organisational decisions are also fair for all generations.

The intergenerational fairness topic is particularly fascinating. As an organisation embarking on its strategy, this is particularly relevant in order to ‘disturb/disrupt’ current decision-making, to ensure long-term strategic choices for an alternate future.

Shahin Ashraf, MBE, Head of Global Advocacy, Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Interest in intergenerational fairness as a growing trend

Signals around equity between generations as a growing issue have been getting stronger since the 2008 financial crisis, further amplified by increasing mobilisation on climate change, and with the global pandemic. Younger generations have been getting more active in suing their governments to establish rights and duty of care towards the future. There is increasing interest from citizens, politicians and policy-makers around intergenerational cohesion and solidarity – rather than conflict – and different national ‘next or future generations’ initiatives are emerging. The OECD published a landmark report on intergenerational justice last year challenging the global policy community to be more systematic about this.

But this can come with major challenges which make it hard to accomplish. Future and younger generations have no vote, there isn’t much reliable information available to decision-makers about the long-term impact of most public policies, and the issue can quickly become polarised and make constructive discussions difficult. So how can we move from good intentions to true accountability, and ensure that (in Gaston Berger’s words) we’re looking at the future to disturb the present, and taking informed decisions today to design better, equitable policies and programmes?

A practical, flexible framework for assessing intergenerational fairness

The School of International Futures (SOIF) and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s ‘Framework for Intergenerational Fairness’ is a practical framework which any organisation – without prior futures or foresight experience – can use to assess whether any strategic, policy or investment decision proposed by others, or itself, will be equitable for people living today and tomorrow. This can be a very empowering process to support informed action-oriented conversations with what could otherwise remain an interesting, important but remote and hazy theoretical discussion.

The framework consists of three key, flexible elements:

  • A policy assessment tool to analyse whether decisions on what is fair and unfair for all generations, exposing specific dimensions of unfairness, identifying unintended consequences and making trade-offs more explicit.
  • A participatory national, or community, dialogue to define collective goals of what a fair and desirable future looks like – including conversations with future generations by proxy – for the policy to be assessed against,
  • Institutional ownership to determine how the methodology will be resourced, used and evaluated in government and society, so that it has independence, accountability, political legitimacy and administrative commitment.

Check out this introductory presentation from this year’s Global Foresight Summit for more.

Assessing decisions in as little as two hours

Any strategic, funding or policy decision can be assessed in five ways, to see if it:

  • Disadvantages people at any particular life stage
  • Disadvantages people at any period in time, present or future
  • Increases the chances of inequality being passed on through time
  • Restricts the choices, agency and freedom of people in future
  • Moves society further away from its vision of the future.



In a couple of hours, you can use the tool to make clear judgements and support risk analysis, contingency planning and policy design. Diagnostic prompts help you scan and assess policy impacts and trade-offs in detail, stress-test the decision against alternative future scenarios, and scrutinise the policy-making process itself for unfairness. You can adapt the lenses and depth and breadth of analysis for different issues and audiences.

Pilots over the last three years have successfully used the tool on a range of live policy issues and with diverse assessor audiences, including citizens. It enables nuanced understanding of the dynamics at play in complex policy areas, and can identify specific cohorts worse off under a policy scenario, and recommendations for additional policy areas and communications toaddress issues and perceptions of unfairness.

How ICSOs can use it and find out more?

There are two main angles for CSOs:

  • Holding governments to account for difficult issues of intergenerational fairness – ICSOs can use this framework in their advocacy work, or with concerned citizens and media actors, to scrutinise the work of governments e.g. during policy design, parliamentary scrutiny, spending reviews.
  • Shining a light internally – Organisations can use these principles to assess any of their own strategic policy or financial decisions – especially around spending and granting – to objectively establish whether they are fair for the long term, or just responding to short-term interests.

Our conversations also identified two exciting potential wider applications:

  • The domains and assessment criteria in the tool can help facilitate conversations ‘by stealth’ about entrenched power interests and inequality structures in the present. This can generate new kinds of conversations outside of traditional framings which come with political/polarised debates, divisions and rhetoric. So it could also be a useful model to support difficult ‘power shift’ conversations in our sector and agree the desirable fair, legacy outcomes we want to collectively achieve.
  • An interesting starting point for global conversations around the post-2030 SDG successor agenda, which runs out soon!

What’s next for the framework and how to stay involved?

SOIF is interested in expanding networks and coalitions to upskill and scale these processes, including ICSOs. They are open to providing support if you are interested in adapting it for your contexts or policy issues.

As a starter, they will be running more webinars from August to introduce new audiences to the framework, and also hands-on participatory sessions to use the policy assessment tool on live issues – in as little as two hours. For updates and opportunities, visit https://soif.org.uk/igf/.

Vicky Tongue

Head of Futures and Innovation

International Civil Society Centre

Vicky Tongue is the International Civil Society Centre’s Head of Futures and Innovation, leading our core initiatives on future trends, horizon scanning and civil society innovation. Vicky has more than 15 years’ senior programme management with several leading UK-based ISCOs, including Marie Stopes International, Article 19, CAFOD, ODI and Save the Children.

Julie Jenson Bennett

Practice Lead

School of International Futures

Julie Jenson Bennett leads the Intergenerational Fairness Observatory at the School of International Futures. Her futures practice developed over twenty-five years as a researcher and strategist in technology and product design. Alongside her work at SOIF, Julie co-directs The Generation Poetry Project, exploring new communication systems emerging amongst younger people, and is an Associate Lecturer at Central St. Martin's in the Product, Ceramics and Industrial Design programme.

Re-powering the system

22nd July 2021 by Wolfgang Jamann

Power Shift, Localisation and Decolonising Aid, have become strong trends, and also buzzwords in the current debate around a more legitimate and impactful aid system.

The push for more resources and decision-making power has most prominently launched at the World Humanitarian Forum in 2016, and was linked to pledges to increase the appalling low percentages of aid funding to local actors, both by donors and international civil societies organisations (ICSOs). Breakthroughs of this ‘Grand Bargain’ are yet to be seen, despite continued commitment to strengthening local Civil Society, recently confirmed by a strong OECD policy document.

Civil Society itself is struggling with implementation. The ambition has worked itself into a number of narratives on how the ‘system’ should change, how power needs to be shifted, how International ICSOs need to be re-imagined.

Not all of these narratives are positive. Nationalistic Governments in India or parts of Africa have hijacked the ‘localisation’ ambition to keep foreign CSOs at bay and discredit them as foreign agents. Even in the US and the UK localisation has become a different meaning – using foreign aid to help disaster victims at home. The recent drastic cuts by British FCDO show the trend.

Looking at the traditional ‘Power Holders’ in the aid system, donors, bilateral agencies and ICSOs, many, if not all, will agree that ‘localisation’ is a good thing, though. It strengthens the consideration of local contexts, vulnerabilities and capacities, true partnerships, inclusive decision-making etc. Many are talking about, and implementing, changing funding patterns, with promising developments linked to the increasingly localised COVID-19 responses.

International civil society organisations have, generally, a rather positive narrative on localisation that includes many past achievements they seem to have made over the last 30 years. Many have grown into confederations, with strong local chapters, and a huge armada of local staff, increasingly in leadership positions. Many will defend their business models as inclusive, decentralised, and addressing the local contexts.

The challenge comes with scrutinising whether these models are good enough. Are power imbalances being addressed, and radically changing? The Centre works with a number of ambitious ICSOs who have started putting local actors (people we work with, partners, primary actors) into the centre of decision-making processes. These are ‘Governance’ discussions in the wider sense, i.e. putting processes and structures to the test – are they designed, capable and fit for greater inclusion?

It’s an exciting journey which has no easy answers – different ways of inclusivity are being chased, and different power dimensions are being addressed – in Big ‘G’ Governance (structures, decision-making protocols, voting rights) and small ‘g’ governance issues, like relationship building, information flow, accountability and transparency, ‘expertise talks vs. money talks’, physical points of decision-making.

Who and what helps and blocks? Facilitators and blockers of power shifts are often not the same people / entities. You need almost tactical approaches (actors mapping, power analysis, finding sponsors etc.). A very good idea is to link the governance as much as possible to the intent and mandate of the organisation.

A quick insight from an initiative many have heard about, could be helpful with focus. The West Africa Civil Society Institute WACSI has just published a survey of about 500 local CSOs about their perception on how partnerships play out. The results were almost surprisingly positive, with lots of appreciation of LCSO / ICSO partnerships, many of which do consider local contexts. But a few critical issues arose: Decision-making is uneven and not mutually beneficial, ICSOs are expected to be facilitators not implementers, more consideration of local capacities, not necessarily funders.

A recent ‘Hard Talk’ event between ICSOs, partners, donors and critical friends touched upon those dimensions and showed the potential for change, but the need for more intense dialogue between groups that have different expectations of each other. One of the biggest challenges comes from inherent ‘colonial’ structures of the aid system, which can only be addressed in an intersectional way, not overlooking discriminatory practices, and engaging in an open exchange and the willingness to learn from each other. A window seems to have opened to turn an outdated aid system onto its feet, and let power go to the people and their institutions, which have been ‘recipients’ of philanthropy, goodwill but bad practices for too long.

Wolfgang Jamann

Executive Director

International Civil Society Centre

Dr. Wolfgang Jamann is Executive Director of the International Civil Society Centre. Until January 2018 he was Secretary General and CEO of CARE International (Geneva). Before that he led NGO Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and the Alliance 2015, a partnership of 7 European aid organisations. From 2004-2009 he was CEO & Board member of CARE Deutschland-Luxemburg and President of the CARE Foundation. Previously, he worked for World Vision International as a regional representative in East Africa (Kenya) & Head of Humanitarian Assistance at WV Germany. After his Ph.D. dissertation in 1990 he started his career in development work at the German Foundation for International Development, later for the UNDP in Zambia. As a researcher and academic, he has published books and articles on East & Southeast Asia contributing to international studies on complex humanitarian emergencies and conflict management.

An Unequal Pandemic: Collaborative report on marginalised groups amidst the pandemic

13th July 2021 by Peter Koblowsky

The COVID-19 pandemic has built upon structural inequalities of our societies and eroded hard-won progress against poverty.

Communities and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been at the heart of local COVID-19 responses, generating data which could help to address pervasive gaps and bias in official statistics and data.

“An Unequal Pandemic” brings together data and insights from communities and over twenty CSOs to uncover the unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and spotlight community responses and resilience.

The report is a joint effort of over 20 CSOs, representing a merger of the the Leave No One Behind Partnership and the Inclusive Data Charter networks. The CSOs in this collaborative effort represent and work with diverse groups, including ethnic minorities; Dalits; indigenous peoples; internally displaced people (IDPs); lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI); migrants; older people; persons with disabilities; refugees; religious minorities; street-connected children; undocumented people; women and girls; and young people.

The Collaborative authoring the report results from many communities’ and organisations’ time and effort during an incredibly challenging period. We extend thanks to individuals, groups and communities who have generously contributed their perspectives and experiences to research that contributed to this report.

An Unequal Pandemic – Full Report

To access the report as a virtual story map, including various other features as audio and video records and translations into other languages, please visit the following website:

Discover virtual story map 

    Peter Koblowsky

    Senior Partnership Manager - Leave No One Behind

    International Civil Society Centre

    Peter joined the Centre in January 2013, back then as a trainee. He completed the traineeship in the advocacy & campaigning office of World Vision Germany. Peter now coordinates the Leave No One Behind project and contributes to the development and implementation of various other strategic formats. Before joining the Centre, Peter worked for various organisations and think tanks in the development sector, being an expert in multi-stakeholder processes. He studied at the University of Bonn and graduated with an MA in Political Science with a focus on multi-actor advocacy for climate policy.

    Joint learning report: “Inclusive SDG Data Partnerships”

    13th July 2021 by Peter Koblowsky

    Our new joint learning report gathers knowledge and recommendations from the Inclusive SDG Data Partnerships initiative, which is co-organised by Partners for Review (P4R/GIZ), the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), and the Centre in its role as the secretariat of the Leave No One Behind Partnership. The initiative aims to advance data partnerships for the SDGs and strengthen multi-actor data ecosystems at the national level.

    Goal is to meet the SDG data challenge by improving the use of alternative data sources, particularly data produced by civil society and human rights institutions, and complementary to official statistics. This report aims to capture and share the key lessons learned from the first part of the initiative, which took place between October 2020 and March 2021.

    Read our report “Inclusive SDG Data Partnerships”


    Peter Koblowsky

    Senior Partnership Manager - Leave No One Behind

    International Civil Society Centre

    Peter joined the Centre in January 2013, back then as a trainee. He completed the traineeship in the advocacy & campaigning office of World Vision Germany. Peter now coordinates the Leave No One Behind project and contributes to the development and implementation of various other strategic formats. Before joining the Centre, Peter worked for various organisations and think tanks in the development sector, being an expert in multi-stakeholder processes. He studied at the University of Bonn and graduated with an MA in Political Science with a focus on multi-actor advocacy for climate policy.

    Persons with disabilities and data inclusion

    7th July 2021 by Dr. Elizabeth Lockwood, Dr. Mohammed Ali Loutfy, Sally Nduta

    This blog post is part of our LNOB Knowledge Exchange Programme (KEP). Elizabeth Lockwood, Mohammed Ali Loutfy and Sally Nduta explain why organisations of persons with disabilities must be engaged in data collection, analysis, and use of data for evidence-based advocacy to influence policy and decision-makers.

    Overwhelmingly, persons with disabilities remain invisible in statistics and as a result existing and new barriers that persons with disabilities face are, once again, not addressed. This invisibility has been particularly evident in the COVID-19 pandemic with dire consequences for many persons with disabilities around the world. 

    Data on persons with disabilities are needed so we understand the real situation of persons with disabilities, to identify gaps that are not addressed through policies and to provide examples of successes. This is not only beneficial for evidence-based advocacy, but also to influence decision-makers and convince them on the themes where the most urgent actions and steps must be taken at national, regional and global levels. This is the beginning and foundational to all other efforts.

    Gathering qualitative data and engaging in participatory research with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are incredibly important and can complement existing quantitative data sources. This is especially important since community-driven data with representative organisations of persons with disabilities can fill the gaps that official statistics cannot from surveys and censuses alone. In fact, community-driven data is particularly relevant for measuring the SDGs for persons with disabilities since most SDG global indicators are falling behind in measuring progress for persons with disabilities, again, leaving persons with disabilities behind. 

    In response, the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, the International Disability Alliance, Disabled Peoples’ International, and CBM Global Disability Inclusion produced a comprehensive disability data advocacy toolkit to address the importance of organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to be engaged in data collection, analysis, and use of data for evidenced-based advocacy to influence policy and decision-makers. 

    The toolkit was created after feedback and requests from persons with disabilities and their representative organisations from all over the world and building on the collaboration of the International Disability Alliance and the International Disability and Development Consortium. 

    The toolkit highlights two particular aspects of the data journey, starting first with the need for data to understand the situation of persons with disabilities, identify gaps that are not addressed through policies, and provide examples of successes. The second aspect is once the data exist. It is crucial to understand how to analyse, use and trust data for creating advocacy messaging. This is both to protect the integrity of advocates and to ensure that the change sought is based on an understanding of the situation and what works. The toolkit includes case studies in which organisations of persons with disabilities were involved in both aspects mentioned above, including a case study on the LNOB Partnership.

    There is no excuse not to have data on persons with disabilities or to include OPDs in data collection and interpretation efforts. Persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are the experts on issues affecting them and are generating community-driven data to complement official statistics. With the toolkit’s guidance, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations can respond in a highly professional manner to data needs. 

    An excellent example of OPD-led data advocacy was the OPD-led advocacy that led to the Washington Group (WG) short set of questions being included in the 2019 census in Kenya.

    The Kenya Population and Housing Census was carried out in August 2019. To use the WG short set of questions is something that the disability movement in Kenya had advocated for with the hope that it would ensure the availability of quality data that can inform interventions. However, it took diverse interventions for this to happen. 

    Firstly, there was intense training of officers from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on the importance of using the WG questions to collect disability data. Secondly, and importantly, was the involvement of OPDs in this process. Through United Disabled Persons of Kenya, persons with disabilities went through training on disability data, including the WG module. In addition, the International Disability Alliance through its Bridge CRPD-SDGs’ training continued to strengthen the capacities of leaders in the disability sector on advocacy for appropriate disability data.

    By these empowerment processes, both for statistics officers as well as for OPDs, the WG questions were included in the 2019 census. From the census statistics, what has been published so far includes distribution of the population aged five years and above by disability status as well as distribution by type of disability. A disability monograph shall be published that shall look at various indicators such as access to education and employment. 

    Through a framework of continuous engagement of OPDs and KNBS, OPDs are now members of a Technical Working Group on Disability Data which, going forward is going to play a key role in the availability of disability data in Kenya. Currently, we are engaged in discussions around having a disability survey as guided by the disability movement, specifically to collect data on the situation of persons with disabilities.

    There are various efforts from partners in Kenya on ensuring that there are good data on disability. Whereas at present there are various gaps on getting disaggregated data, we hope that the collaboration with partners, including the KNBS and OPDs, in a spirit of goodwill, will ensure that going forward there are good, quality data. 

      Dr. Elizabeth Lockwood

      CBM Global

      Dr. Elizabeth Lockwood works for CBM Global Disability Inclusion and is the CBM Representative at the United Nations. She focuses on developing advocacy strategies to raise awareness, build capacity, and lobby for the rights of persons with disabilities at the UN level in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Sustainable Development Goals, and disability inclusive development.

      Dr. Mohammed Ali Loutfy

      Disabled People’s International (DPI) Executive Director.

      Disabled People’s International (DPI)

      Dr. Mohammed Ali Loutfy is the senior advisor on capacity building and advocacy for the Global Initiative on Inclusive ICTs (G3ICT). Dr. Loutfy is also Disabled People’s International (DPI) executive director. Since 2016, Dr. Loutfy has been the Representative of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) at the United Nations, where he co-chairs the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities for Sustainable Development.

      Sally Nduta

      Programmes Manager

      United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK)

      Sally is a disability rights champion with over ten years of experience in the disability sector. Before joining UDPK, she previously worked at the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) as a Programme Coordinator. She is experienced in managing capacity building and advocacy programmes aimed at empowering persons with disabilities and their organisations. She has experience working with multi-stakeholders, including government departments and other non-state actors. She has actively participated in programme development and implementation using rights-based and human rights approaches. She is interested in disability-inclusive policy, planning and execution, supporting the institutional strengthening of persons with disabilities, collating feedback on advocacy activities, supporting follow-up, and facilitating learning.

      Podcast: Negotiating solidarity: #SolidarityPlaybook case studies

      6th July 2021 by Adriana Sahagún Martínez

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      Our new episode discusses the key findings of our Solidarity Playbook, putting forward main lessons learned and recommendations for building more solidarity in civil society.

      Listen to Deborah Doane, Sarah Pugh and Eva Gondorová discuss the Solidarity Playbook case studies’ key takeaways, understand the correlation between building resilience and acting in solidarity with others, and discover why solidarity needs to be negotiated.

      Read and share these case studies: bit.ly/3dMPPwb

      Discover the Solidarity Playbook key findings: bit.ly/3uFxlnz

        Communications Manager

        International Civil Society Centre

        Call for Applications, Project Consultant Tender

        5th July 2021 by Adriana Sahagún Martínez

        The Centre is looking for an experienced consultant with expertise in EU funding to identify concrete  opportunities among the portfolio of EU funding  mechanisms to support the Leave No One Behind Partnership and its Making Voices Heard and Count project.

        Making Voices Heard and Count is a collaborative project of the Leave No One Behind partnership, which is hosted by the Centre. It brings together international and national civil society organisations (CSOs), civic networks and platforms with the ambition to bring about a scalable solution for filling data gaps on marginalised groups in the monitoring and review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thereby, the project aims to make a key contribution towards fulfilling the Agenda 2030’s universal pledge to leave no one behind. The project fosters an inclusive model of SDG monitoring, supporting the collection, analysis and dissemination of community-driven data and giving a stage to data produced by the local target groups themselves – helping to make their voices heard and count.

        As an advocacy partnership, we aim to foster an enabling political environment for the inclusion of marginalised communities in the SDG process, working in close exchange with key government entities and local decision makers in our action countries. At the global level, we work with multilateral agencies and global platforms to amplify and reinforce our political messaging.

        Our overall goal is to make sure that:

        • Country SDG priorities are inclusive of the voices of those at risk of being left behind.
        • SDG strategies and policies are informed by community-driven data, complementing other official data.

        For this purpose, the Centre is commissioning a consultant to:

        • prepare an inception report for an assessment of EU fundraising opportunities;
        • scan available funding opportunities offered by the various EU funding mechanisms and instruments, and identify one or more applicable concrete opportunities for the Leave No One Behind partnership;
        • advise on needed administrative and financial capacities and required due diligence to apply for and administer potential grant amounts;
        • identify partner organisations within the Leave No One Behind partnership who are best suited to take on the lead applicant role.

        Find the full tender and how to apply here

        The Centre invites qualified individuals or organisations (“Offerors”) to submit a proposal for the requested services. The application needs to be submitted by 21 July 2021. Interviews of finalists will take place between 26 and 27 July.

        If you meet the selection criteria, please submit your application to Peter Koblowsky including:

        1. Proposal Narrative, no more than 5 pages, including:

        • A brief description of the offeror’s experience and expertise in the field that illustrates overall qualifications, capabilities, and suitability
        • A brief description of the offeror’s understanding of the scope of services and proposed methodology for the work
        • A brief outline of the methodology to be used to assess the partner(ships) capacity, i.e. by conducting interviews/ sharing questionnaires or a fundraising audit

        2. Resume or CV of individual or principals, in the case of a consulting firm

        3. List of Past and Current Clients and successful EU funding applications the offeror has been involved in either as an adviser or co-writer

        4. Cost Requirements

        5. The Offeror should include a detailed budget

        Proposals, including any attachments, should be sent electronically in PDF format to: pkoblowsky@icscentre.org. Please ensure to include in the subject line: “Call for proposals – EU Funding”. 


          Communications Manager

          International Civil Society Centre

          Call for Applications: Research Consultant

          23rd June 2021 by Adriana Sahagún Martínez

          The International Civil Society Centre  is commissioning a scoping study to analyse operating conditions of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and local civil society organisations (CSOs) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPT) and to examine what effects these conditions have on local communities receiving humanitarian and development assistance. The results of the study will be open for use for advocacy work of interested ICSOs, CSOs and networks. Additionally, it may inform activities of the Solidarity Action Network (SANE) at the local level with a focus on solidarity mechanisms beyond public advocacy.  

          In 2011, the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) – an umbrella association of over 80 international development organisations operating in the oPT – conducted a survey among its members and published a report showing the impact that access restrictions had on the quality, reach and sustainability of the delivered humanitarian and development programmes. 

          A new research is needed to capture representative data on the current environment in the oPT in order to develop effective data-driven policy advocacy and explore possible solidarity mechanisms. 

          For this purpose, the Centre is commissioning a consultant to:

          • Capture recent and compelling data on if and how actions from external entities have impacted ICSOs, local CSOs and UN agencies operational in the oPT in terms of finances and funding, programming, recruitment and movement and other essential aspects of humanitarian/development programming. 
          • Capture recent and compelling data on if and how actions from external entities towards ICSOs, CSOs and UN agencies operational in the oPT have increased or decreased in the past several years and in what form. 
          • Capture – as far as possible – qualitative data on the overall impact of the ability of ICSOs and CSOs to function according to their mandate as a result of actions from external entities. 
          • Provide top-line analysis of the data, set in current context, in terms of the impact on non-governmental humanitarian/development objectives in the oPT overall. 
          • Provide compelling but fully anonymised analysis for ICSOs, CSOs and other organisations to use publicly – in media reports and with other external stakeholders – to illustrate the wider operational context. 
          • Outline different solidarity mechanisms beyond public advocacy that could support ICSOs and CSOs operating in the oPT. 

          Find the full tender and how to apply here

          The Centre invites qualified individuals to submit a proposal for the requested services. The application needs to be submitted by 9 July 2021. Interviews with shortlisted candidates will likely take place on 14 or 15 July.

          If you meet the selection criteria, please submit your application to Eva Gondorová including:

          1. Narrative proposal (no more than 3 pages), including: 
            • A brief description of your experience and expertise in the field that illustrates your overall qualifications and capabilities, including examples of related work;   
            • A brief description of your understanding of the scope of services and proposed methodology for the work;  
            • Your consultancy rate 
            • An outline of how many working days you expect to need for the preparation phase and data collection & analysis phase. We expect the overall consultancy to encompass no more than 15-20 working days;  
          2. Your CV, 
          3. Two references that can be contacted should you be shortlisted.

          Proposal Submission: Proposals, including any attachments, should be sent electronically in PDF format to: egondorova@icscentre.org, indicating in the subject line: “Research consultant”.

          Communications Manager

          International Civil Society Centre

          What does ‘solidarity’ around civic space mean in the light of the Indian response to COVID-19?

          7th June 2021 by Deborah Doane

          This blog post is written by Deborah Doane, who along with Sarah Pugh, authored the Solidarity Playbook, a collection of case studies and best practices on how organisations and coalitions have developed resilience and solidarity mechanisms to civic space restrictions and changing operating conditions for civil society.

          The tragedy that is befalling India in real-time as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is also a consequence of a government intent on trying to destroy its own civil society, both through a crackdown on foreign funding, one of the typical tactics in closing civic space; and by suppressing dissent through whatever means possible.  

          Foreign funding restrictions imposed in 2013 under the previous government were just the start of this severe assault on civil society that saw international civil society organisations (ICSOs) Amnesty and Greenpeace seriously targeted, with Amnesty ultimately withdrawing from the country, no longer able to function effectively.  

          The intimidation that befell foreign ICSOs eventually impacted local CSOs too, as the crackdown on dissent accelerated. In the last six years, over 13,000 NGOs’ licenses were cancelled, as the government made a concerted effort to stem the flow of foreign funding.  

          Much of the assault on civil society came to a head just prior to the pandemic, which saw strong and sustained protests against the new Citizenship Amendments Act (CAA) which put Muslims at a disadvantage and more vulnerable compared to Hindus in having to prove their Indian identity, perceived by many to be a direct assault on the secular underpinning of the Indian State.  

          COVID-19 provided the perfect opportunity for the government to halt the protests altogether and dampen the voice of civil society even further. Protests were virtually outlawed, movement was restricted, and activists were silenced or arrested, whilst the government pressed ahead with even more restrictions on foreign funding coming into the country, even as late as last September, in the midst of the pandemic. As Vijayan MJ writes for the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, “The government converted a health crisis into a law-and-order issue, and democratic governance slid into a police raj.”   

          Thus, it’s clear that civic space – and our response to it in global civil society – is at the heart of a solidaristic pandemic response in India. 

          Even in the absence of foreign funding and in spite of imposed restrictions, local civil society actors have been heroic in their efforts providing much-needed emergency relief across the country.  Communities have stepped in, whilst rights-based groups moved from advocacy to relief mode quite swiftly in response to the rising disaster impacting migrant workers and many of India’s poorest. But local CSOs have also highlighted that because of the civil society crackdown, they have been entirely (and needlessly) hampered in their efforts. Indeed, they point out that without such restrictions – either on funding or on dissent, the COVID-19 crisis in India could have been far less severe. 

          National organisations in India have been able to place some pressure on the government to try to at least delay some new foreign funding restrictions and registration requirements so that much-needed humanitarian relief funding can make its way more easily to smaller, responsive local CSOs. As of the time of writing, this is as yet unresolved.  

          Internationally, pressure exerted from the now global People’s Vaccine campaign, involving many ICSOs, has been a tremendous effort to challenge patent protection which could make a massive difference for India. This is an obvious value-add role for ICSOs in the face of a pandemic, but it doesn’t speak to the issue of civic space per se. Given the layer upon layer of complexity, well documented by the likes of Arundhati Roy and others, it’s very easy to feel that anything ICSOs can do is all but meaningless.  

          However, the case studies in the Solidarity Playbook have shown that there are multiple actions that ICSOs can take when it comes to civic space, ranging from quiet solidarity to more public, political solidarity. The risk for ICSOs in India has often been that speaking out can do more harm to their efforts – and to local actors – than good. But the countervailing risk is that remaining silent can also enable an already repressive regime to become even more repressive. So how can ICSOs navigate this complexity?  

          Here, two key broader lessons from the Solidarity Playbook are relevant. First, that ‘civic space’ is a strategic opportunity to shift an organisational strategy. COVID-19 has demanded a real shake-up in how ICSOs are organised, as the freedom to travel and send expats from the north everywhere is virtually off the table. In most parts of the world where ICSOs are present, traditional business models have turned upside down. ICSOs are finally starting to ask themselves how to collaborate with partners differently and better, in light of the new normal. It’s not about ‘empowering’ or ‘capacity building’ anymore. Instead, it’s about recognising the power that communities have and identifying ways to create new forms of collaboration – and build solidarity alongside those on the ground.  

          Where foreign funding is allowed, this can mean shifting to providing more funding mechanisms that enable communities to plan and allocate resources, something the #shiftthepower movement has long been advocating as a strategy to respond to closing civic space. COVID-19 only makes this more urgent. 

          This is where the second lesson from the Solidarity Playbook becomes equally relevant. Whatever solidarity mechanism an ICSO adopts in the face of closing civic space, it must be negotiated with national and local civil societies – and the communities in which they are working. Speaking out through international advocacy or diplomacy may be the best course of action, as would prioritising international fundraising, but they may not be. How ICSOs collaborate equally with national and local partners, whilst helping to share any associated risk, is at the heart of what ‘solidarity’ really is. This will help in the long-run too – by strengthening local civil societies and local communities alike, and putting them in the driver’s seat.  

           “In India, the battle against the pandemic cannot be separated from the battle to regain democracy, the rule of law, constitutionalism, and human rights,” Vijayan MJ goes onto say in his essay for the Carnegie Endowment. It’s difficult to watch the dual crises of closing civic space and a global pandemic. But it’s heartening to know that as ICSOs, it’s still possible to act deliberately and in solidarity as allies with those at the forefront of local responses, and that our efforts in the short-term can have a positive long-term impact too.  

          Deborah Doane

          Deborah Doane is a writer and consultant, who has worked across civil society for over twenty years as a leader, campaigner and analyst, covering human rights, development, environment and economic justice issues. Most recently, she was the Director of the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society, and now works in a portfolio capacity with a range of clients in philanthropy and civil society. She is a partner of RightsCoLab a think tank where she works on the future of civil society. She blogs regularly for the Guardian on International Development and civil society issues.

          Call for Global Perspectives Speakers and Workshop Hosts

          21st May 2021 by Adriana Sahagún Martínez

          We are looking for inspiring people to contribute to Global Perspectives 2021 – Let’s Talk About Power

          Global Perspectives is an annual conference bringing together leaders of civil society organisations (CSOs) with high-level representatives from governmental, inter-governmental, corporate, philanthropic and academic sectors. Every year around 150 participants engage in interactive formats, discussions and co-creation sessions to analyse the world’s most pressing challenges and devise strategies to bring civil society forward in pursuit of solutions.

          Who are we looking for?

          Leaders who want to talk about Power Shift and have an inspiring idea or work from the civil society, governmental, inter-governmental, corporate, philanthropic and academic field.

          How can you contribute?

          We are looking for leaders happy to host a workshop or panel or be part of a panel. Workshops and panels last between 1 and 1.5 hours. There are three pillars to our conference on which you can focus your contribution: De-concentrating Data and Digitalisation, Decolonising Aid and Organisational Structures and Embracing New Power. Please read the concept note

          How can one express an interest?

          Fill out the form below!

          Where is it?

          This year’s event is hybrid. We will have a unique interactive format of up to 150 participants. In addition, we will be providing global and regional perspectives – holding in-person meetings in three regional hubs in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and online broadcasting their discussions throughout the week, delivering insights and identifying new connections.  

          When is it?

          Global Perspectives will be held from 25 October to 04 November 2021.

          When is the deadline for submitting my application?

          30 July 2021.

          Got a question?

          Email the Knowledge and Communities Manager, Nihal Helmy

          Name of your organisation, network, foundation...etc

          Communications Manager

          International Civil Society Centre