Anticipate, listen patiently, and build a peer network – three lessons from Leading Together
For the first time in four years, the Centre convened its Leading Together conference in person again. Leading Together is our annual space for the global directors of the ICSO divisions of Human Resources, Policy/Advocacy, and Programmes. These groups have parallel peer group discussions as well as joint sessions over topics that concern them all. This year, the Scanning the Horizon community of futures-focused senior sector professionals also joined the group. We were thrilled to welcome participants on our home turf in Berlin and spend 48h learning, debating, and reflecting. The Centre team is busily following up on those 47+ items/ideas/insights generated during the event, and we would also like to share three insights that were key to us:
1. Exercising that anticipatory muscle is challenging, liberating – and necessary
At Global Perspectives 2022, we heard and stressed how anticipatory capacity in (I)CSOs is a collective muscle we need to exercise constantly. We took this advice and focused peer and joint sessions on this topic: Discussions with Russell Reynolds on the role of leadership and using AI for the good of ICSOs as well as shaping the future through participatory strategy making were sessions where participants engaged with trends and how to “organise futures”. The Policy/Advocacy Directors discussed with David Griffiths, Associate Fellow at Chatham House the future of the Human Rights diplomacy.
We also really challenged participants with some freshly generated scenarios created in a collective exercise (ParEvo) the Centre has just concluded. Participants had to discuss and reflect on how civil society (organisations) might deal with and shape civil society space after a series of mega-tsunamis hit the world and severed all IT infrastructure. While some scenarios stretched the goodwill of participants to further consider, the exercise was highlighted by many as important to encourage imagining futures differently. A series of mega-tsunamis will throw the world into disarray (not unlike a global pandemic) and might need primarily our crisis-response capacity. However, spending time on creating long-term visions for different futures can put us as civil society sector professionals in a different kind of driving seat versus racing to manage with futures narratives others – usually more powerful actors – are creating.
2. Taking time for nuance and learning advances us collectively
What was particularly enriching at this year’s conference was the participants’ willingness to engage in the substance of discussions and openness to critical challenges, and generally a learning mentality. We tried not to gloss over differences with buzzword definitions like “power shift” or “decolonising” but acknowledged the complexity of the matters we deal with and that we may get some things right and others wrong along the journey. Similarly, a joint discussion between the Programme and the Policy/Advocacy directors in exchange with AWID over anti-rights groups and the threat they pose to civic space was exemplary for constructive engagement: Participants brought so much nuance to the discussion and – it might sound like a cliché – embraced the diversity of viewpoints and created patience for understanding our individual or organisational contexts. These high-quality discussions were incredibly enriching and displayed a high degree of collective responsibility for advancing as a sector.
3. Our organisations are shifting fundamentally – from strategy making to recruitment processes – and peer support may just help keep the head above water
A few years back someone said “’powershift’ is the water we all swim in”. This was certainly true for Leading Together. In so many sessions participants explored topics that come from our journeys to become organisations that are at least more power-aware or even mirror a decolonised, equitable and just society that we want to see. It was hugely encouraging to see the spread of organisational initiatives and the degree to which ambitions for change are permeating the organisations: to learn from the experience of WaterAid’s participatory strategy making journey, engage with Superrr Lab in what it takes to break western-centred views of futures making. In similar vein, Mission Talent and the cohort of Human Resources directors discussed the challenges and possibilities our changing sector holds to build more diverse organisations; the Programme Directors explored with Comic Relief what ways there are to work differently with bilateral donors to enable more equitable partnerships; and the Policy/Advocacy Directors are already experienced how shifting mandates of ICSOs hold increased expectations for their departments. Senior leaders from the ICSOs are demonstrating resolve and yet acknowledge that these are unchartered waters where peer exchange, inspiration and support is just what you need.
If you are also an ICSO senior leader and you want to learn more about our offer, do reach out. We already look forward to the next round of Leading Together in 2024 – online – and in-person in 2025!
Discover and learn from the Solidarity Playbook on cybersecurity
With increased digitalisation (international) civil society organisations – (I)CSOs – have faced an increase in digital threats and cyberattacks carried out by malicious actors interested in financial gains and access to sensitive data or identifiable personal information.
In recognition of this growing challenge, we captured case studies on how (I)CSOs responded to cyberattacks and collected lessons on how to better protect organisations online.
Solidarity Playbook case studies on cybersecurity
The latest edition of the Solidarity Playbook features four case studies of how (I)CSOs dealt with actual cyberattacks. We partnered with the CyberPeace Institute to showcase these case studies and provide insights into how (I)CSOs can prevent and mitigate similar incidents.
Cybersecurity needs to be a shared responsibility – it requires attention across the whole organisation and cannot be borne only on the shoulders of IT staff.
Visit the Solidarity Action Network Webpage to find out more about the aims of the Solidarity Playbook and all the case study content.
For more information or feedback, reach out to Eva Gondor, Senior Project Manager
Official reference to our work in the UN Secretary General’s recent SDG progress report
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s report, “Work on the review of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)” recognises the usefulness of citizen-generated data (CGD) and the UN’s interest in exploring new avenues to make better use of such data in SDG processes and beyond. The report also underlines the key role of civil society actors and community-based organisations in advancing CGD to make SDG processes and public policies more inclusive and equitable. The close collaboration between the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the International Civil Society Centre (in its role as the global LNOB secretariat) has been explicitly mentioned in the report, emphasising our mutual role in fostering collaboration between civil society and national statistics offices at the national level.
The report recognises CGD, such as community-driven data and citizen science, as useful data sources, both for filling gaps to inform policy and decision-making and as complementary information by citizens, civil society and community-based organisations in order to better reflect the realities of less visible and marginalised groups more broadly.
The report also highlights that national statistical offices are increasingly exploring mechanisms and tools to engage and connect with citizens and communities throughout the data value chain to make data more relevant and better utilised.
The Secretary General’s report refers to the expert group meeting on the topic “Harnessing data by citizens for public policy and Sustainable Development Goal monitoring: a conceptual framework”, which was held in Bangkok on 10th and 11th November 2022 to discuss concrete ways to involve civil society in all steps of the SDG process. At the meeting, it was concluded that there would be a new UN-anchored collaborative co-led by UNSD and a network of partners, bringing together diverse stakeholders, including national statistical offices, CSOs, academia and regional and international organisations. The goal is to share knowledge and experiences in leveraging citizens’ contribution to data and to inform further normative work required in this area.
For additional information, download the full report.
Accelerating Inclusive Power Shift: An aggregated benchmarking study
Following four years of Power Shifts Labs, the Centre wants to build on all of its collective work through analysis and deeper engagement around progress made. In February 2022, it commissioned a benchmarking study where its members were invited to discuss what shifts are currently underway within their organisations, as well as their challenges and next frontier ambitions.
The study’s results were discussed and shared with study participants in the hope that it would feed into their future exchange and learning while allowing them to benchmark their progress over time and with each other. The Centre is presenting an aggregated version of the Power Shift benchmarking study as it believes that it will be both relevant and interesting to a much wider community outside of its member base.
Learn more about the project
Discover the ‘Anticipating Futures for Civil Society Operating Space’ report
This report contributes to the Centre’s multi-year initiative Anticipating Futures for Civil Society Operating Space to strengthen the anticipatory capacities and future readiness of civil society professionals who are working to defend civic and civil society operating space. It is intended to provide a basis for further activities, especially in identifying gaps that require collective sector commitment.
The report is the outcome of an exercise to map the current landscape: the issues impacting civic space, the strengths and weaknesses of civil society organisations’ (CSOs) responses and their reflections.
Explore the Centre’s ‘Civil Society Innovation and Digital Power Shift’ report
Civil society organisations are innovators. They test new approaches to both traditional and emerging problems. Rapid digitalisation is one of today’s most prominent and influential global drivers of change, but decisions on how future digital development and data use proceeds still sit almost exclusively with the governments and businesses already powerful and privileged enough to influence and receive its benefits today, further growing the equity gap to the half of humanity who remain unconnected.
While civil society organisations have achieved some success in shifting power around these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for organisations to learn and benefit from the lessons others have encountered.
The report will share effective and inclusive innovation approaches, solutions and new ways of working which are helping to shift power in the digital ecosystem, and achieve more people-centred or nature-positive outcomes enabled by digital technology, by showcasing eight case studies from international and national CSOs around the world. Get inspired by real-life examples of new approaches.
Plan International – Equality Tech
Code for Pakistan – Fellowship Program
Internet Society and Murambinda Works Community Networks
Listen to our Futures and Innovation Podcast – an audio series streaming on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud – and hear the stories of their inclusive innovation approaches to advance people-centred digitalisation, to either address system power imbalances or capitalise on emerging people power and technological capabilities.
Visit our Innovation Webpage to find out more about the aims of the report and all the case study content.
Call for Applications: Evaluation Consultant
The Centre is looking for an experienced consultant or a team of consultants with expertise in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) to conduct an independent evaluation of the Leave No One Behind (LNOB) Partnership and its Making Voices Heard and Count project. The consultant will be expected to review and evaluate the activities the LNOB Partnership has conducted on global, national and local levels since its inception in 2017.
The Centre is commissioning a consultant to:
- Review various work documents and outputs of the LNOB partnership from 2017 through 2022 to assess the partnership’s overall work and achievements.
- Based on the review of relevant documents and outputs, sketch the overall scope of the evaluation, analysis framework and methodology.
- Draft evaluation questions, design the methodology and develop the assessment and research tools, including surveys and interviews.
- Conduct surveys or interviews with representatives from LNOB secretariat, country coalitions and other partners to support the evaluation.
- Review the 2022 baseline impact assessment results from LNOB country coalitions and their partners.
- Present results/findings and suggest recommendations for future programming and scaling up of the partnership, providing specifics for acting upon these recommendations, in a detailed 20-25 pages evaluation report.
Find the full tender and how to apply here
The Centre invites qualified individuals, pairs or small teams to submit a proposal for the requested services. The application needs to be submitted by 18 July 2022.
If you meet the selection criteria, please send an email with your CV and a short proposal including a proposed timeline and detailed budget, including daily rate in Euros (EUR) to Chandani Lopez. The proposal must be in English and preferably in PDF format. The subject of the application should read ‘Evaluation Consultant LNOB Partnership.’ Only shortlisted candidates who meet the criteria will be invited for interviews.
Call for Applications: Strategic Research Consultant
The Centre is looking for a strategic research consultant to conduct a mapping and support event content preparations during the initial phase of its new initiative “Anticipating Futures for Civil Society Operating Space”. The initiative’s overall aim is to strengthen anticipatory capacities and future readiness of civic space-focused professionals in international and national civil society organisations.
The Centre is commissioning a consultant to:
- Draw out the potential connections between how governments frame and respond to crises, including complex, uncertain future events like climate disruptions, and the implications for civil society action and operating space.
- Explore how states have pivoted to security framings in crises, the impact this has had on civic space and operating conditions, and the signals CSOs should increasingly become aware of.
- Explore emergent opportunities for civil society from previous crises – such as COVID-19 – which served to change or influence state perceptions, narratives and framings of civil society.
- Outline previous and current work in the field on “civic space futures” (e.g. International Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s (ICNL) Civic Space 2040 initiative of 2020).
- Identify gaps that require collective sector approaches and initiatives.
- Prepare the results of this mapping in writing (report of ca. 15 pages) or as a visualisation/map.
- Cover letter (no more than 3 pages), including:
- A brief description of your experience and expertise in the field that illustrates your overall qualifications and capabilities for this scope of work, including two examples of your previous comparable work;
- A brief description of your understanding of the scope of services and proposed methodology for the work;
- Your consultancy rate (amount in EUR/day) and amount of working days.
2. Your CV.
3. Two references that can be contacted should you be shortlisted.
Call for Applications: Research Consultant
The Centre is looking for a research consultant to support its Solidarity Action Network (SANE) by capturing three to five case studies looking at how international civil society organisations (ICSOs) and CSOs have dealt with cyberattacks and digital risks. This will be an extension of the Solidarity Playbook – a collection of case studies and best practices on strategies, resilience, and solidarity mechanisms – with a topical focus on cybersecurity.
SANE focuses on strengthening resilience of and solidarity among civil society actors when faced with civic space restrictions or changing operating conditions. It connects organisations across all sub-sectors and brings them into discussions on civic space challenges and opportunities.
The Solidarity Playbook is an integral part of SANE with a focus on collecting case studies and best practices to help other ICSOs respond to undue scrutiny and challenges, and to enable learning on how to act in solidarity with civil society actors, particularly local partners.
The Centre is commissioning a consultant to:
- Review and adjust the existing framework of the Solidarity Playbook case studies to accommodate the topical focus on cybersecurity.
- Conduct desk review and analysis of any written documentation (either publicly available or made available by contributing organisations).
- Conduct interviews with case study partners.
- Produce drafts of three to five case studies in a written form, including executive summary.
- Refine the case studies based on feedback received from the case study partners, the Centre and the CyberPeace Institute.
- Submit final case studies.
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 25 July 2022.
If you meet the selection criteria, please submit your application to Eva Gondorová including:
- Cover letter (no more than 3 pages), including:
• A brief description of your experience and expertise in the field that illustrates
your overall qualifications and capabilities for this scope of work, including two
examples of your previous comparable work
• Your consultancy rate (amount in EUR/day) and amount of working days
- Your CV
- Two references that can be contacted should you be shortlisted.