The future is calling

Development Policy05 Dec 2011Ellen Lammers

The Broker is hosting a new debate titled ‘Future Calling’ and we warmly invite you – also on behalf of Hivos – to contribute.

Our world is changing quickly and profoundly. Rich and poor – regardless of where they live – are faced with increasingly ‘thick’ problems and social change is more politicized and contested than ever before. And yet, most international development NGOs keep offering ‘thin’ solutions to these problems. Solutions geared to measurable material success. Solutions that are aimed at increasing participation, but in unsustainable economies and polities.

Michael Edwards argues that instead, what we really need is a transformation of societies, and INGOs should challenge themselves to leave behind the trodden path and contribute to this fundamental change.

His article titled ‘INGOs – retirement, replacement or rejuvenation?’ kicks off this debate on the future of INGOs. The questions he poses are:

  • Is it time for INGOs to leave behind the task of strengthening their leverage within a conventional development frame? How can they broaden their perspective to respond to the thick problems of our time?
  • How can INGOs rejuvenate themselves and seize the opportunities for being the much-needed agents of transformation?
  • Or is it perhaps time for INGOs to retire? Should they be replaced by other institutions or movements that better fit the messy political challenges of our day?

We look forward to a lively and inspired debate on these questions. On this project page you also find related background reading. For instance, have a look at the blogpost by Remko Berkhout, who directs you to other visionary exercises and their outputs.

If you wish to contribute, this is what we ask of you: a personal and critical reflection on the future of INGOs, phrased in 500 words (max 1000) and with a short bio and picture for your author profile.

Your contributions can be sent to and we will make sure it gets uploaded immediately.

We also encourage you to respond to the contributions of others by using the Comment function at the bottom of each blogpost. Let’s make this a true debate!