Accelerating Inclusive Power Shift

In recent years the debates around shifting power, localisation and decolonisation within the development and humanitarian sectors have gained prominence, resulting in an increasing number of actors seeking to foster a paradigm shift with the ultimate aim to rebalance the unequal partnerships that have characterised such sectors to date. The concerted efforts to discover new ways of working that transfer decision-making power from ICSOs to those affected by the work, have led to transformation processes towards sustainable solutions to address the power and resource imbalances between donors, ICSOs and local communities. 

The International Civil Society Centre wants to contribute to the current energy on shifting the paradigm and support ICSOs and their partners in the ambitious yet exciting journey towards power shift. To this end, in 2022 the Centre’s is scaling up the existing thematic work around Power Shift and governance reform, as it has now become part of the Centre’s strategic cycle for 2022 –2024. The initial Power Shift Lab series has been expanded into the Accelerating Inclusive Power Shift project, which seeks to accelerate power shift and raise the ambitions of ICSOs as they begin to reimagine its future position in the global civil society sector. 

The project aims to foster more inclusive governance models, create more equitable partnerships, and support ICSOs in revising their future mandate while intensifying structured donor dialogues to achieve a meaningful power shift in the sector. The project further aims to facilitate learning and exchange, produce guidelines and engage with related initiatives such as the Re-Imagining the INGO initiative (RINGO) and the #ShiftThePower movement.  

The Accelerating Inclusive Power Shift project pursues four key objectives:  

  • Accelerate ICSOs’ uptake of more inclusive governance models by developing guidance and expanding engagement 
  • Strengthen ICSO-donor collaboration to enable more equitable partnerships with Global South-rooted actors 
  • Support ICSOs in their ability to commit to more equitable partnerships 
  • Support ICSOs in revising their mandate and future role 


Power Shift

The Centre pursues these objectives through several events, collaborative initiatives, and other activities. The following activities are not exhaustive and will further be added to during the year: 

1) A benchmarking study to identify the state of play in governance power shift practices and plans of the Centre’s shareholders, supporters and like-minded organisations. The study will provide insights into how governance transformations are addressing inclusiveness and legitimacy and outline key steps being undertaken or planned in shifting power in governance, allowing for future exchange and learning from each other’s practices based upon comparable observations. This will help calibrate the next phase of the power shift work of the Centre’s community. The findings of the study will be shared with the study participants.  

2) A Power Shift Lab (29–30-31 March) on power shift progress to date. The online event aims to gather the Centre’s community to review and assess the inter-relationship of power dynamics, organisational intent and governance reform. Participants will share their progress against ambitions, reflect on successes and failures and learn more about feedback mechanisms and horizontal accountability. A first look at benchmarking results will orient their various efforts against progress in the sector. Further, the lab will include creative ways of overcoming blockages through a Change Execution Clinic on 31 March. The event is invitation only. In case of interest, please contact Myriam Ciza Gambini.  

3) Curated conversations (June – December) on themes of equitable partnerships, donor roles and ICSO mandates, including the continuation of discussion amongst and between stakeholder groups (as initiated in the Hard Talk event of 2021). Curated conversations will be on invitation to ensure a trustful environment, but the circle of invitees will go beyond stakeholders of Power Shift Lab to include key stakeholders and ensure diversity of perspectives.  

4) An ICSO-Donor dialogue building upon the dialogue series of the Centre, which offered an avenue for constructive dialogue between ICSOs and donors, and an opportunity to start jointly overcoming some of the structures and narratives that prevent more substantial and systemic power shift. This year, the dialogue will tackle the topic of the restructuring of risk management and the re-conceptualisation of risk.  

5) A community gathering of the involved organisations and Lab cohort, as part of the November ‘Global Perspectives’ engagement month, reflecting on ambitions and progress, and connecting with relevant other initiatives in the sector. 

6) As part of the partnership with the Re-imagining INGO initiative (RINGO) project, the Centre will support the RINGO Lab in its prototyping phase and in making the learnings available to the Centre’s stakeholders.  

 For further information on the project, please contact Myriam Ciza Gambini, Project Manager – Accelerating Inclusive Power Shift.