Taking change actions to a new level

Civic Action01 Dec 2010Steve Waddell

This blog item was part of the ‘Engaging stakeholders for change’ dossier

Increasingly, multi-stakeholder processes are being used in response to ‘tough’ problems such as responding to climate change, fighting poverty, and creation of sustainable business models. Many development organisations and networks have become aware that these change processes are of an increasingly ‘emergent’ nature, and need to be facilitated. The Change Alliance is an emerging global learning network which aims to support good practice in facilitating and strategizing around multi-stakeholder cooperation for systemic change.

From 1-3 December 2010, 20 facilitators of multi-stakeholder processes from across Africa are meeting in Nairobi. Co-hosted by the Change Alliance and SNV, to exchange experiences with leaders, researchers and donors. This ‘Inspiring Change’ event aims to share and collate state-of-the-art experiences and explore ways of supporting and strengthening capacity for effective facilitation of multi-actor processes.

This blog provides an online discussion platform for speakers, participants and other experts in the field, where they can reflect on the discussions and opinions voiced at the Inspiring Change event as well as further discuss the wider topics it addresses.

After a few decades of working with big change issues, I realize that I am really fired up for three days at The Change Alliance’s first Nairobi meeting. Part of my excitement comes from the cases that people are going to discuss, including:

1. Institutionalising multi-stakeholder engagement in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC): making regional integration work for the poor.

2. Promoting local innovation in sustainable agriculture and natural resources management in Tanzania.

3. Breaking tribal and social barriers, for a united development spectrum, through regional Leadership Retreats.

4. Western Kenya Rights support Initiative addressing rampant abuse of human rights.

5. Promoting community engagement in sustainable fisheries management around Lake Victoria.

6. Strengthening the evaluation of Community Conversations (CCS) on HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

7. Addressing issues of access to land for the poor in Kenya, with a local-to-global stakeholder perspective.

Part of my excitement comes from anticipation about meeting with others who are also actively working on these sorts of big change issues, and learning from them to deepen my own practice and understanding about how to realize the depth and scale of change we need to address critical challenges.

And part of my excitement comes from the potential of the meeting, to launch an on-going network in this region as part of The Change Alliance, to advance our change capacity. The meeting promises to identify some of the key challenges to advancing big systems change strategies, and set an agenda to begin addressing them.

That this meeting is happening, is testimony to the importance of persistence. I think it was at least half a dozen years ago that Jim Woodhill, Bettye Pruitt, Katrin Kaufer, Minu Hemmati, me and maybe two dozen others met in New York to take stock of current big change knowledge. That led to the birth of The Change Alliance a couple of years ago, loosing a few people but also picking up some more wonderful ones like Skip Bivens, Nina de Roo, Hettie Walters, Jan Ubels, Philip Thomas, Herman Brouwer and Ramon Daubon. And this meeting wouldn’t have happened at all without the support of SNV and Julia Ekong. I’m looking forward to more joining to create The Change Alliance!