Podcast: Global China strategies for civil society organisations

5th February 2020 by Thomas Howie

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This podcast focuses on findings from our Civil Society Sector Guide on the growing global influence of China, summarising key themes, implications and recommendations to better prepare international civil society organisations for this major global trend. The guide was produced as part of our Scanning the Horizon work.

Producer: Julia Pazos


Scanning the Horizon Sector Guide #1: “Strengthening the adaptive and collaborative capacity of internationally-operating civil society organisations (ICSOs) related to the rise of China” – icscentre.org/wp-content/uploads…-November-2019.pdf

Blog: A Better China Strategy for International Civil Society – www.chinafile.com/ngo/analysis/bet…al-civil-society

Blog: How Amnesty International is Engaging with China Abroad – icscentre.org/2019/11/29/how-amn…with-china-abroad/

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Why ICSOs need to make more sense of the city in our urban century

3rd February 2020 by Aline Rahbany  Urban - International Civil Society Centre

Aline Rahbany, Director for Urban Programming at World Vision International, explains that in this “urban century” it is paramount for international civil society organisations to rise to the complex and interconnected challenges presented by cities in order to improve people’s lives. She suggests several different ways for ICSOs to do “things differently” in order to meet this challenge. Aline will be out or networking event at the World Urban Forum on 10 February, please join her and us if you are there.

Be part of our Innovation Report 2020 on ‘Civil Society Innovation and Urban Inclusion’

We are living in an urban century

Around us, people are continuously moving to cities, towns and other rapidly urbanising areas. Due to innovation in technology and infrastructure, the world is connected in a way as never before. Cities are providing opportunities for improved wellbeing, happiness and productivity. But not everyone is entitled or able to access these opportunities. Inequality is on the rise. The face of poverty has changed. Urban residents and communities are grappling with increased fragility. Violence, wars and conflicts are increasingly occurring in cities. For the first time in history, a stand-alone goal exists to make “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” – livable for all. While this commitment should be celebrated, fundamentally the international community continues to fail at producing cities that serve everyone equally.      

Making sense of the city

Like other international civil society organisations (ICSOs), World Vision has been investing in alleviating poverty and responding to emerging disasters and crises, mostly in rural, stable communities. Over the past 10 years, as an organisation, we have been forced to direct our attention to understanding the new trends of poverty and humanitarian crises, not least because children are the first casualties. Urban contexts are complex and challenging: there are multiple layers of governance; inequity can be seen with informality and extreme poverty present at very close proximity to high-rise buildings and rich financial institutions; the number of key urban players and influencers is massive. 

In such settings: 

  • understanding context, needs and opportunities takes time and requires intentional engagement at the local level; 
  • partnering is simply not optional, but absolutely essential for the effectiveness and survival of the organisation; 
  • showing the impact of our interventions is not easy. 

Over the past 10 years implementing urban programming, World Vision has learned that we need to be doing things differently. It takes a whole-organisation approach to comprehensively address the issues faced by the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in urban contexts. It is not only about innovation in programming, but also taking steps toward more structural, organisational change to increase agility, flexibility and responsiveness to a fast-changing environment.

We need to do things differently 

The city provides opportunities to work differently. Population density means we can reach more people living in the same geographic area than with our rural interventions. Infrastructure and mobility allow for faster response. Functional markets present opportunities to boost the local economy. Cities often have financial resources that CSOs can tap into. 

There is still, however, so much more to learn about working effectively in urban areas affected by poverty, violence, conflicts and fragility:

  • We need to invest more in integrated programming that empowers people. As CSOs, we are still used to developing sectoral interventions; but people do not see their wellbeing in such siloed terms. 
  • We need to learn to navigate the complex layers of urban governance and work effectively with the formal and informal actors who influence the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. This means stepping out of our comfort zone to connect with actors we have never had relationships with before but who can deepen our impact in these contexts. We cannot let our organizational bureaucracy risk limiting our ability to maximise these critical partnership opportunities.
  • We need to look to the city as a system where challenges are interconnected and recognize that we simply cannot achieve our desired impact if we work alone. This means letting go of organisational egos and being transparent about the investment we are making and the change it is contributing to. 
  • We need to revamp staff skillsets to ensure they are able to connect as meaningfully with the children in the public spaces we help rehabilitate as they can with the local mayor providing support from the local municipality, and the bank investing in the intervention. Versatility in local capacities is key. 
  • Finally, we need to learn more about how to institutionalise our efforts, and how to support and capacitate municipalities and other local and citywide actors who will continue to be there after international organizations leave. 

Join us! 

I am very excited to be part of the upcoming World Urban Forum 10 Networking Event on “Civil Society Innovation and Urban Inclusion” where I will join peers from other CSOs to discuss how our organizations have been working differently to address the issues and needs of excluded groups in cities and other urban areas. Visit our website to find out more about World Vision’s work in cities.    

, ,

Aline Rahbany 

Director for Urban Programming

World Vision International

Aline Rahbany is the Director for Urban Programming at World Vision International, based out of Toronto, Canada. Aline currently holds a global portfolio at WVI, with previous roles with its offices in Lebanon and the Middle East and Eastern Europe regions. Aline has more than ten years’ experience in the international humanitarian and development field, working on research and learning, strategy development, program innovation and technical support in urban contexts, including fragile cities. Aline advocated on behalf of World Vision for the adoption of urban SDG11 and influenced the development of the New Urban Agenda to be inclusive of children and youth at Habitat 3. She is passionate about inclusive cities and advocating for groups who are “deliberately silenced or preferably unheard”.  

Join us for urban innovation in 2020

23rd January 2020 by Vicky Tongue

Join us at the World Urban Forum in February

In 2020, we will ‘go urban’ with our Innovation Report. The Centre’s track record as a sector convenor and innovation accelerator places us perfectly to build a diverse group of innovators and thinkers. The aim is to gather and share your stories to benefit others in our 2020 Innovation Report. We kick off our 2020 Innovation Report discussions at a networking event at the World Urban Forum.  If you are there, we welcome you to join us next month. Alternatively, get in touch to register your interest (bottom of page) in being part of the report.

About us as a sector convenor

As anyone who works in the civil society sector knows, finding time to collaborate with partners is difficult. Throw in the resources required to complete a shared project, then it does not matter how excellent your idea is, it is going to be a struggle to achieve your objectives. This is where the Centre’s expertise and experience as a sector convenor comes in.

We’re used to finding the right people and creating an environment for them to share insights and innovations. We play this role for a broad range of actors, from Board members and CEOs to innovation managers and global strategists. This year, we’re bringing our convening expertise to a new community of global urban leads. We want to help bring your innovations to benefit a wide civil society audience.

Innovation is the name of our game

Innovations can be game changers for civil society organisations. But what if they haven’t heard about the latest innovations of others, or don’t know how to apply them in the world?

Our aim is to highlight and explain how innovations can benefit the civil society sector and be used to tackle common challenges. In 2019, we looked at populism, and how civil society tools and tactics are evolving and innovating in response. We included a huge diversity of organisational missions, profiles and experiences from across our events and networks and around the world, highlighting universal practical tips and inspiring insights.

These diverse organisations and people may never have had the time or the resources to bring to a wide audience their stories of innovation. Yet the wealth of diverse experience generated a fantastic resource for the civil society sector.

In 2020, we’re turning our attention to the complex landscape of working in cities, where there are many common challenges…

In 2016, a report we produced, ‘Exploring the Future’,highlighted that for international CSOs, working on urban issues or at the city level was not as big a priority or area of expertise, as poverty alleviation experience in rural settings or national-level focused advocacy.

Arguably, not much has visibly changed since then in terms of focus or resourcing. However, urban settings and actors are central to the changing nature and locales of poverty and inequality. They also hold the key to solving the climate crisis. The speed and complexity of change in urban contexts is faster than ICSOs can currently keep up with. The interplay with other trends is also multi-directional and unpredictable, requiring greater agility and speed to shift operational modes. 

Urban contexts pose additional complexities requiring ICSOs to innovate, including:

  • Multiple levels, powerful actors and competing agendas requiring simultaneous engagement and multi-stakeholder approaches, from community mobilisation to city-wide sector, market, policy and institutional capacity-building;
  • Several different roles may be necessary: community mobiliser, programme broker, strategic facilitator and convenor, service providers, and/or institutional capacity builder;
  • Proximity to resources and services does not necessarily mean access for urban poor residents to structures and spaces, due to informality and marginalisation of some groups;
  • Proactive city administrations may outpace national governments, more quickly adopting climate positive policies, or emerging technologies (including for social control).
Urban Innovation Report 2020 image
Urban Innovation Report 2020

Our 2020 Innovation Report will collate and contrast roles and approaches to co-produce new insights, provide a common learning agenda, and communicate effectively to wider audiences about the important urban impacts these organisations are achieving

Join the Centre and our partners at the World Urban Forum (WUF) on 10 February!

Where better than the world’s foremost meeting of leaders shaping the agenda of our urban future, to begin our journey to develop our 2020 Innovation Report, build our community of civil society collaborators and supporters for this project, and shape plans for our future sector convening.

If you’re coming to WUF10 in Abu Dhabi next month, get in touch and come to our networking event with Habitat for Humanity, World Vision and Slum Dwellers International. Or if you can’t, but still keen to join this journey, get in touch anyway!

JOIN US on 10 February 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.

Leading Together on transforming CSO culture

15th January 2020 by Åsa Månsson

About Leading Together

Under the new name of Leading Together, in June we will convene Global Heads of Division of international civil society organisations (ICSOs) for high-level strategic discussions on global trends, best practice and joint challenges. This meeting presents a unique chance for senior leaders to network with and learn from peers. It is a space for leaders to explore opportunities for collaboration and discuss how to push for change in the sector together.

Previous Participant:

“The fact that I managed to meet and connect with my peers was amazing. The collaborative spirit and safe conversations were highly appreciated.”

This year, Leading Together will have a specific focus on Organisational Culture. Organisational Culture is a critical element of an organisations potential success or failure. Most ICSOs are investing considerable amounts of time and resources in strategy development and implementation. In some cases, however, organisations pay only a little attention their culture, which – since ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – means there is a high risk of undermining their strategy. Yet, there are also plenty of examples of good organisational culture playing a key role in strengthening strategies, making them more relevant and legitimate. There is a need for ICSOs to develop a deeper understanding of how culture functions and develop a broader toolset on how to shape culture.

About Leading Together

Event format and focus: Leading Together 2020 offers two separate but interlinked conference elements:

  • Joint sessions: Space to explore, discuss and shape burning issues related to the future of the civil society sector – with all participants.
  • Parallel meetings: Space for peer exchange and exploration of collaboration – in parallel groups of Directors.

Joint sessions theme: Organisational Culture

  • Understanding organisational culture
  • Learnings from changing CSO culture

Parallel Meetings: Peer exchange and exploration of collaboration

In the second part of the conference, the following four groups will meet in parallel:

  • Policy & Advocacy Directors: The Centre has convened this group annually since 2016.
  • Programme Directors: The Centre convened this group for the first time in 2018.
  • Human Resources Directors: The Centre convened this group for the first time in 2019.
  • Heads of Urban: The Centre has convened a thematic group of ICSO innovators annually since 2017, this year’s focus on urbanisation in the Innovation Report adds this group to the Leading Together format for the first time.



Åsa Månsson

Programme Director

International Civil Society Centre

Executive Director. Between 2010 and 2013, Åsa acted as manager of the INGO Accountability Charter (Accountable Now). In September 2013, Åsa took up the role as Director of Development, innovating the Centre’s fundraising and communication efforts. Since October 2016, Åsa has been Director of the Global Standard and has additionally taken on the role as the Centre’s Programme Director in mid-2017. Originally from Sweden, Åsa earlier worked for a consultancy, evaluating social projects within the public and civil society sector. Åsa studied European Studies and Sociology at universities in Gothenburg and Berlin. She completed her education with a Master’s thesis on the role of civil society in European governance.

Join us to help make voices heard and count in SDG implementation

15th January 2020 by Peter Koblowsky

In 2020, The Leave No One Behind global partnership enters a new 3-year phase after successful completing the pilot stage between 2017 and 2019. The focus remains on Making Voices Heard and Count through empowerment of marginalised groups, assessment of their local situation through community-driven data and advocating for sustainable improvement of their livelihoods.

In this new stage, the global partnership is expanding its scope with countries from both the Global South and North. This means a continuation of our scaling up in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Vietnam and Nepal. Additionally, we are exploring new national partnerships in Denmark, Canada, Malawi and the Philippines. The partnership plans to highlight the importance of implementing the SDGs in different socio-political contexts, demonstrating, that there is considerable room for improvement in countries in the Global North as well, thus recognising the universality of the Agenda 2030.

The International Civil Society Centre remains in the role of a host organisation. The increase in scale of Making Voices Heard and Count means that the Centre is additionally looking for new strategic partners to come on board and contribute to the bigger impact through their expertise. Currently we have 12 global international civil society organisations and national level coalitions, consisting each of numerous CSOs, throughout all action countries.

Join the Partnership

The Centre is expanding both the partnership itself and advisory groups on different topics, such as:

  • Data generation and analyse,
  • Working with margilised communities,
  • Implementation of the SDGs.

If your organisation has expertise in one or more of these fields, or if you want to build a deeper understanding of the project, feel free to contact Peter Koblowsky for further information and framework questions.

Let’s join forces for the practical achievement of the SDGs in a growing number of countries worldwide!


Peter Koblowsky

Project 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.

Power, Governance and Intent in Civil Society Organisations

15th January 2020 by Wolfgang Jamann

Power Shift Lab Event

Power is everywhere in human relations. Its dimensions are also observable in interactions between organisations and institutions and play an increasing role in international political arenas (geopolitical power shifts). While power might not be good or bad per se, the effects of power imbalances contribute to human suffering, inequalities, lack of participatory opportunities, civil unrest. They can be found in regional (North-South), economic and political divides and are often characterized by marginalisation of communities, abuse of political power, bad governance and corruption. 

The work of civil society organisations is conducted right in the middle of such relationships and they themselves are powerful actors and can become part of power imbalances, e.g. in their relationship with local partners and communities, and not least with the people they serve. In recent years, the international community has tried to address this more systematically, e.g. by the localisation agenda in humanitarian work, and by power transformations within governance models of larger federations. A recent ‘Pathways to Power Symposium’ in London came up with a Power Shift manifesto. It sparked an intensified debate on accelerating much-needed changes that #ShiftThePower.

Power imbalances within and between Northern and Southern, but also large and small, rich and resource-scarce international civil society organisations (ICSOs) often stand in the way of these organisations achieving their missions and mandates. To improve the livelihoods of people by delivering inclusive programmes and taking solid resource-allocation decisions, ICSOs need to shift power to these communities. However, ‘traditional’ governance models that are process-heavy and geared towards donor accountability, limit the engagement of communities from engaging in decision-making processes. ICSOs are also often organised in a parent-subsidiary operation model whereby a resource-rich entity controls implementing branches and partner organisations in the Global South. This is exacerbated by donor-driven, project-based operational models that prevent processes of inclusive resource allocation and prioritisation. 

About our Power Shift Lab

The International Civil Society Centre in conjunction with Conner Advisory conducted a first Power Shift Lab in September 2018 to address this appetite towards more legitimate and global governance. ICSO leaders from the Global North and South reviewed the inter-relationship of the ‘Golden Triangle’: Power Dynamics, Organisational Intent and Governance Reform’. They found that they are in a much better position to assess adequate governance models and necessary reforms if they know what the power dynamics inside and around their organisations are, and how they help or hinder their strategic intent. 

A few ICSOs have radically started to place the people they serve at the top or centre of their governance models, whilst others are seeking approaches that are more evolutionary. This moves towards an ambitious aim but is faced with significant challenges caused by organisational culture, open or hidden power structures and established business models. Building on the implementation successes (and failures) after the first Lab, the Centre will – in its next Governance Lab 2.0 in March 2020 – explore the questions of how to overcome these barriers and lead the necessary power shifts. 

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.

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.



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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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