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The Broker's year in review: manifesting change for the future

Jacqueline Vrancken | 17 January 2019

Over the course of 2018, The Broker realised some big changes. With the start of a new year, it is time to reflect on this exciting time and take a look at what you can expect from us in 2019.

Changing place and people
The tone for change was set when, 10 years after publishing the first issue of The Broker magazine, the sceptre was handed over to new management. With renewed energy, The Broker continues to pursue its core objective: improve Dutch and global development policies and practices through knowledge brokering activities. Before the year was halfway through, the team found themselves supported by an almost entirely new board and several new knowledge brokers. Finally, The Broker moved its office from Amsterdam to The Hague and is now housed in the ‘Bazaar of Ideas’, just minutes away from the city’s policy-making centre.

What have our knowledge brokers been up to?

Renewed opportunity for brokering in knowledge platforms
In 2018, The Broker dedicated a significant portion of its (wo)man power to the INCLUDE and Food & Business (F&BKP) knowledge platforms for global development. These platforms are at the heart of what The Broker aims to do: broker knowledge to improve political agendas, policies and practices in the field of global development. We are happy that we can continue our work in these platforms until at least 2023.

Diving into thematic issues for global development
In addition to our engagement in INCLUDE and the F&BKP, The Broker shared its expertise in several thematic knowledge trajectories. To contribute to improving conflict sensitivity in food and nutrition security (FNS) programming, for example, a project was initiated, which resulted in the development of  a tool for conflict sensitivity, which has already been put to use in South Sudan. As (in)stability and food security will continue to feature high on the development agenda in years to come, The Broker will stay on top of these themes to feed into the debate and policies. The scoping paperStrengthening the humanitarian assistance and food system development nexus in protracted conflict areas’ was a first example of this commitment.

Knowledge brokers at the frontline, where knowledge meets practice
As knowledge brokering is both an on and offline job, our brokers regularly leave their desks for conferences, workshops, training, lectures and brainstorming sessions. In 2018, these activities included, for example, delivering a lecture on knowledge brokering at Radboud University Nijmegen and hosting a workshop in cooperation with DRIFT on journalistic writing for social innovation professionals. At the frontline, where knowledge meets practice, we contributed to organizing and reporting on cross-sectoral conferences, of which this report, blog post and video impression are some examples.

Putting knowledge brokering into practice in the field, Rojan Bolling took part in a scoping mission of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Sudan (Darfur) and Somalia (Somaliland), to inform an upcoming resilience programme led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. Frank van Kesteren and Kim van Wijk co-hosted an INCLUDE and EPRCconference in Kampala on social protection for inclusive growth in Africa and Vanessa Nigten organized knowledge brokering activities on joint strategies for inclusive agri-business in Kenya and on research impact for food and nutrition security in Ethiopia. 

A celebratory read: joining forces, sharing power
Our most colourful publication in the past year is without a doubt Joining forces, sharing power: civil society collaborations for the future, written by Yannicke Goris. This booklet – the second in a series of publications by The Spindle – follows the 2017 publication Activism, artivism and beyond: inspiring initiatives of civic power. Like the previous year, The Broker joined forces with Partos and its innovation platform, The Spindle, to produce this publication, which celebrates inspiring and innovative collaborations in civil society. After this year’s success, another publication is sure to follow in 2019. Stay tuned. 

Our top-five articles of 2018
While the largest chunk of our work is devoted to our services and projects, The Broker also publishes articles on issues related to our core themes. Here are the top-five articles from 2018 recommended by our team: 

Beyond good intentions – fair research partnerships essential for resilience in low income countries 
by Harry van Schooten and Carel IJsselmuiden
For anyone wondering why after decades of development funding countries are still at square one when it comes to addressing their own problems, this article draws attention to a fundamental, yet neglected, bedrock of development. 

Expect the unexpected: focus on the unintended effects of international cooperation
by Dirk-Jan Koch
Development cooperation has more unintended effects than we would like to think and, strikingly, little attention is paid to its consequences. Dirk-Jan Koch argues that these ignored and the invisible effects should be studied more. 

The big migration debate: time to cut the link with development 
by Wim Naudé
As migration continues to feature high on the political agenda, and policymakers often treat development as a way to end migration, despite evidence to the contrary, we recommend reading this article to sharpen your position in one of the great debates of our time. 

Does the world know what it wants in the Sahel? 
by Zoë Gorman
This publication warns that weak governance, youth unemployment, porous borders and discontent over development initiatives make the Sahel ripe for illicit trafficking, armed banditry and jihadist groups. Gorman argues that the G5 should prioritize the needs of local populations to put a stop to such troublesome developments. 

Obsessed with impact – towards a systems approach for social change 
by Tessa de Geus
“Many forms of resistance do not take place in squares”. With civic space under threat worldwide, we recommend reading this article in which Tessa de Geus explains what is needed to unlock the creativity of citizens and move beyond the next frontier for social change. 

Stay tuned for 2019
Looking back with satisfaction at the changes made and looking ahead with confidence, we will keep welcoming new ideas, directions and partnerships in 2019. Feel free to contact us, get to know us more and see if we can be of service to you.
Stay updated on new publications and our activities by subscribing to our newsletter, following The Broker on Twitter, and keeping an eye on our website (spoiler alert – this will be entirely renewed this year). Happy new year!

Photo credit main picture: Stefan Lins via Flickr