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.
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.
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?
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:
Check out this introductory presentation from this year’s Global Foresight Summit for more.
Any strategic, funding or policy decision can be assessed in five ways, to see if it:
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.
There are two main angles for CSOs:
Our conversations also identified two exciting potential wider applications:
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/.
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.
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.