Transformative Scenario Planning for civil society with CIVICUS

CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists. They aim to strengthen civil society worldwide. In their daily practice, CIVICUS’s Affinity Groups of National Associations (the AGNA Network) noticed the following trends:

  • Funding is shrinking
  • Governments are limiting access to resources
  • Donor dependency and a traditional aid modality is (still) prevailing
  • Questions of CSOs trust and accountability are rising

To back up these trends and provide support for their members, the AGNA network was scanning their horizons for new ways of thinking, innovative tools and strong methods to build their capacities and resilience around improving civil society resourcing. These challenges and their desire to be better equipped to operate in uncertain times, brought CIVICUS to Perspectivity.

Perspectivity’s Monique Janmaat and Anna Kogut offered the AGNA Network the possibility to learn about strategic scenario planning on a big scale and to experiment with transformative scenario planning, the power of multi-stakeholder dialogues and a pressure cooker in facilitation skills. Monique and Anna provided for a four-day training course in the art and craft of Transformative Scenario Planning in Johannesburg at CIVICUS’ headquarters in February of this year. They trained 13 diverse members of AGNA, coming together from around the entire globe, such as Senegal, New Zealand, Cambodia, Argentina, Italy, Pakistan and Fiji.

“This workshop is what I envision as capacity strengthening”

The key question of the training  was: “How can we be a member-led organisation that is more effective and relevant, when looking at good governance and resourcing?” This question made it possible for all members, independent of their context and geography, to benefit on their individual/national/regional level.

“I believe that this methodology can serve to contribute to a resilient civil society”

Participants went through a ‘learning by doing’ experience where different techniques were used to construct four scenarios about the future of civil society organisations and to design the strategies needed for each scenario to play out.

Members could learn what it takes to perform a transformative scenario process and what they would need to bring to set up a process like this in their national or regional organisation. These could be conducted on any number of multi-stakeholder topics.

“The training is very relevant for the work of everyone in our sector and it can be a real transformative initiative –  it is extremely innovative and relevant for strategic planning”

After the successful four-day training, the AGNA leaders now have to bring Transformative Scenario Planning thinking back to their networks and incorporate the method into strategic planning processes. In so doing, they are able to spread the seed we planted together and have more meaningful and innovative discussions around civil society resourcing with the wider system. This approach can provide steps towards a transformation in thinking, strategising, collaborating and dialoguing, whilst facing the uncertainties of the future for national and regional civil society networks.

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