The Broker in 2022: working on balance while moving forward for international development

Knowledge brokering,News23 Jan 2023Vanessa Nigten, Charlotte Stam

The year 2022 has been turbulent. The Broker team showed great flexibility in overcoming constant changes in Covid measures and in our team of knowledge brokers. Now, as 2023 kicks off, Covid restrictions -for now- seem to be behind us and we are operating at full capacity again, continuing to grow more. This meant we needed to find a new balance. Balancing working from home and at the office again, but also finding a new balance in the team. In 2022 we said goodbye to our Director Saskia and many other colleagues and welcomed new talented staff. Einstein once said: ‘Life is like riding a bike; to keep your balance you must keep moving.’ And that is what we did. In 2022 we kept moving forward by working on many interesting projects and stayed truly committed to working on sustainable inclusive international development.

A share of The Broker’s projects in 2022

Our knowledge brokers engaged in numerous interesting projects last year, all aimed at making knowledge work for an inclusive and sustainable world. Below, we highlight a few of these projects.

Future Brief series: Decolonisation of development cooperation

Decolonising the development sector is an essential step in resetting previous power imbalances. The Broker joined forces with Partos and created a timely three-part series that takes a deep dive into the past, present and future of a (de)colonised development sector. Our hope is that these publications will inspire similar conversations on the decolonisation of the sector within and across organisations and individuals. We are honored to have worked on such an important topic and are happy that the briefs were well received and look forward to continuing cooperating with Partos and partners on this important issue. A French, Spanish, Arabic, English and Dutch version of the Future Brief are available.

The Broker’s Dialogue Guide to working with faith-based actors for sustainable development

How to balance different world views in religious-secular partnerships for international development? Although examples of successful partnerships between secular and faith-based actors are numerous, misunderstandings and biases prevent even more fruitful partnerships. Earlier, The Broker ventured into a project called ‘Working with faith-based actors for sustainable development’ commissioned by Prisma and four of its members – Dorcas, Tearfund, Woord & Daad and WorldVision Netherlands. In 2022, this project resulted in a synthesis report and The Broker created a Dialogue Guide that seeks to provide a starting point for development practitioners and policymakers to engage in an open dialogue on the role of religion in development cooperation.

Getting iodized salt on the plate

Talking about balance, it is important to have a balanced diet. Did you know iodine is one of the most essential dietary needs of the human body? Together with UNICEF and Iodine Global Network (IGN) we identified ways to improve the regional trade of iodized salt in West and Central Africa. Our report describes the dynamics, barriers, and opportunities in relation to strengthening the flow of iodized salt in West and Central Africa. The document also looks ahead and provides 8 recommendations that can inform the dialogue and the process going forward.

The power of Benkadi

In all collaborations and partnerships, it is important to pay attention to power balances. The same goes for the Benkadi Project of Woord & Daad. The Broker, together with the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI), developed the Power Scan, a tool for power analysis. This tool – which is based on earlier tools to analyse power (im)balances in food systems transitions – provides partners operating in the Benkadi project with an actionable framework to integrate power dimensions and power relations in their baseline studies. It allows partners to identify leverage points to improve power relations, thereby realising the objectives of the Benkadi programme. The local partners involved in the Benkadi project are purposefully moving ahead, putting ‘Leading from the South’ into practice! 

Articles in 2022: The Broker’s top 3!

We selected our 3 most read articles from last year to bring to your attention again. Find them below and let them be food for thought!

Our colleague Jorrit, together with Associate Fellow at the Clingendael Institute Jorrit Kamminga, wrote a long-read on how the Dutch sanctions against the Taliban have disastrous consequences on people’s socio-economic rights like the right to food. This led to an invitation to discuss the matter on television at EenVandaag on June 23, in light of the earthquake that struck Afghanistan. 

This synthesis document summarizes the online consultation input from all relevant stakeholders in the field on the new Dutch policy for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The Broker was commissioned by the Ministry to bring all contributions together in an overview report to inform the decisions to be made in developing the new policy.

This article critically analyzes the new policy paper of the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, titled Doing what the Netherlands is good at. Should the development cooperation be based on what The Netherlands is good at, or should it be driven by the local context and owned by local stakeholders?

Our Brokers in the Knowledge Platforms

In 2022, The Broker dedicated a significant portion of its (wo)man power to the INCLUDE knowledge platform and the Netherlands Food Partnership (NFP). Over the course of the year, our Brokers have been engaged in multiple activities within these platforms, doing what we do best: brokering knowledge to inform and improve policies and practices in the field of sustainable international development. Here are some of the highlights of last year!

INCLUDE: strengthening youth employment

As Covid-19 still played a big role in the world in 2022, this also influenced the agenda at INCLUDE. A few of our Brokers worked on a synthesis report on Covid-19 responses in Africa concluding that many containment and mitigation measures deepend inequalities. Another important theme at INCLUDE is youth employment in Africa. Our Brokers supported the development of a series of evidence synthesis papers on themes relevant to youth employment, as part of the ‘Boosting Decent Employment for Africa’s Youth initiative. This initiative is a three-year partnership between INCLUDE, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), under the guidance of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. Furthermore, they teamed up with the Challenge Fund on Youth Employment to conduct a collaborative research on ‘Green jobs for youth in Africa’, the results of which can be found in this insight paper. Lastly, INCLUDE celebrated its 10 year anniversary of working on making evidence accessible and available for policymaking and implementation!

The Netherlands Food Partnership: supporting coalitions in 2022

The year 2022 marked the second year of The Netherlands Food Partnership. Besides following up on activities that started in 2021, new partnerships also unfolded. Our colleagues supported multiple coalitions like the Partnership for Healthy Soils, the Global Partnership on the True Price of Food, the Smallholder Farmers Digital Ecosystems coalition and the Ghana Urban Food Environment Coalition. Additionally, multiple of our knowledge brokers worked on developing quick-scans for the Ghana Urban Food Environment Coalition. Next to this, NFP hosted a policy consultation discussing the food security elements of the BHOS policy. The Broker gathered all ideas and input in a synthesis report. In June, our knowledge Broker Rojan shared his perspective on the current state of global food security in a podcast on New Business Radio. Furthermore, one of our knowledge brokers joined the CGIAR West and Central Africa food system transformation initiative workshop in Kigali as a resource expert. Also, together with ZOA and NFP The Broker delivered a lessons learned report and practical guidance materials on flexible programming in fragile settings. Lastly, we were delivered an insights report and policy brief on inclusive African Youth Agripreneurship for both NPF and INCLUDE.

Looking forward

What will happen in 2023? Our new year’s resolution is to continue finding new balance and to keep moving forward. One thing that will not change in 2023 is that we will continue developing and working together with all interested stakeholders worldwide to make knowledge work for international development. Are you interested in what The Broker can do for you? Would you like to learn more about the projects described here or on our website? Or partner with us in any other way? Do not hesitate to contact us! We are ready to kickstart 2023!

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