Building the future of development cooperation

What could the future of development cooperation look like? Which future scenario is the most desirable? What does this mean for Dutch development organisations? Various stakeholders from the Dutch development sector went to work with these questions. Perspectivity designed and facilitated the six-months-long process.
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Partner:

Partos

Question:

Can you help us with designing, facilitating and conducting a collective exploration of the future of Dutch development cooperation?

Process:

Transformative scenario planning: facilitation of four workshops with about 35 stakeholders.
Narrative research (Sprockler) among over a hundred professionals in Dutch development cooperation
Sharing of results in an (online) final report

Results:

Four lively descriptions of plausible scenarios for the future, including implications, challenges and opportunities for Dutch development organisations
An inspiring vision for the desired future of Dutch development cooperation, including an elaboration on what is necessary to realise that future.

Partos, the member organisation for development cooperation, wants to be prepared for the world of tomorrow. That is why Partos asked us to design and facilitate a process of transformative scenario planning. Transformative scenario planning gives people and organisations the change to experience that – certainly when dealing with complex challenges – the future is not set in stone. Participants collectively identify different variants of the future, the actions they can take in each of the scenarios and what the effects would be. In this way, new insights emerge about how the desired future can be realised.

Narrative research

For this assignment, we first collected a large number of experiences and insights, as input for the scenario workshops. Using our research tool Sprockler, we conducted narrative research among over a hundred professionals in the Dutch development sector. They shared short stories and anecdotes that showed us a glimpse of the near future. Several patterns emerged from these stories, such as the importance of empowerment of the Global South, the influence of the Dutch political arena, the changes in financing methods and the importance of focusing on youth.

Transformative scenario planning

For the workshops, we opted for a cross-section of players in Dutch development cooperation. With a diverse group of about 35 stakeholders, we identified relevant trends and large uncertainties that are crucial for the future of Dutch development cooperation. Based on these trends and uncertainties, we collectively outlined four plausible scenarios for the future. What implications do these future variants have for the different types of organisations in the sector? What challenges do they lead to, and what opportunities do they offer?

The future we want

Next to the potential future scenarios, transformative scenario planning can also be used to outline the desired future (‘the future we want’), including the joint actions required to get there. During the last workshop, we, therefore, developed an inspiring vision of the desired future: a regenerative society that cares for social needs and respects the capacity of the planet. To realise this desired future, concrete strategies, roles, financing models and competences are required. These are described in detail in the (online) final report.

    “The future exploration trajectory was one of most influential activities during the review period, as it had an effect on a large array of stakeholders”

    From the Mid-term Review Report of The Spindle, the innovation platform of The Spindle.

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