Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of networks for advocacy in the Global South | Oxfam

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Oxfam regards working with partners as central to its model of change. While Oxfam is an organization with a strong global and international presence, working within networks and with other civil society organizations brings significantly more depth, outreach and legitimacy to its influencing work. The ECSN BRICSAM (Empowering Civil Society Networks in an Unequal Multi-Polar World) programme demonstrates the value of working as part of a truly global network, with capacity and legitimacy to influence the governments of the emerging powers. It provides important learning for Oxfam in terms of its proposal to build a worldwide influencing network. This paper seeks to highlight learning from the successes and challenges of developing a network of networks across countries in the Global South. Partnering for Impact series To do the work it does, Oxfam works closely with partners at all stages of the programme, in all kind of contexts: humanitarian, influencing, development, etc. But what does it mean for our staff? Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, so how do they do it? Following a reflective and productive writeshop, this Partnering for Impact series was developed to share and explore learning from experienced practitioners about what it takes to ‘work well in partnership’.
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  Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of networks for advocacy in the Global South My experience in the management team for the Empowering Civil Society Networks in an Unequal Multi-Polar World Programme (ECSN BRICSAM) – by Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez PARTNERING FOR IMPACT www.csnbricsam.org 1  About the author Thomas is a dual Mexican/British national who now lives in Mexico City. For the past three years, he has been working as Deputy Manager for the ECSN global programme which supports CSO networks in the BRICSAM countries. He has recently changed role, and is now influencing adviser with a specific focus on Latin America. He is passionate about supporting the work of social movements which mobilise around a human rights and social justice agenda, and feels that too often the voices of people involved and leading such movements are not heard within international development circles. Partnering for Impact series To do the work it does, Oxfam works closely with partners at all stages of the programme, in all kind of contexts: humanitarian, influencing, development, etc. But what does it mean for our staff? Each day brings new challenges and opportunities, so how do they do it? Following a reflective and productive writeshop 2  , this Partnering for Impact series was developed to share and explore learning from experienced practitioners about what it takes to “work well in partnership”. ã BRICSAM and ECSNã Introductionã Key achievements  - Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South - Deepening understanding of inequality - Joint advocacy achieving change - Building links from local to global levels ã Lessons learnt: Network management: Oxfam’s role: - The network formation stage is crucial - The importance of getting internal mechanisms for accountability right - An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital - The network secretariat role is important and needs to be agreed upfront ã Lessons learnt: Network development – accountability and sustainability   - Networks need time to evolve  - There should be clarity on the network´s main function  - Efforts should be made to ensure representation of women, different ethnic groups and geographic regions  - Sustainability should be decided by network members, not simply by the availability (or lack) of funding ã Lessons learnt: The implications of working in networks Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of networks for advocacy in the Global South PARTNERING FOR IMPACT   Left, For richer or poorer? This report was commissioned by civil society networks across the BRICSAMIT countries.Previous page: Morro do Papagaio at Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Photo: Fred Cardoso  INDiARUSSIASOUTH AFRICABRaZILMEXICOINDONESIACHINA PARTNERING FOR IMPACT BRICSAM refers to Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, South Africa and Mexico. It is an acronym used by Oxfam that refers to the group of emerging economies that are likely to become increasingly important not only due to their growing economic size, but also their political weight in multilateral institutions. These seven countries are also home to the majority of people living in poverty in the world – around 2.5 billion people living on less than $5 a day live in just these seven countries. Oxfam also recognizes that this set of countries hosts diverse and vibrant civil societies that have the potential to achieve change not just at their respective national levels, but also in their regions and globally. Since the start of the ECSN BRICSAM programme, Turkey and Indonesia have been added to this grouping within Oxfam, which is now referred to as the BRICSAMIT. In five of these countries Oxfam has an established presence through a national Oxfam affiliate. ECSN Empowering Civil Society Networks in an Unequal, Multi-Polar World is a programme currently funded by the European Union and Oxfam. The acronym ECSN BRICSAM is used in this document when referring to this programme. Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of networks for advocacy in the Global South ã BRICSAM and ECSNã Introductionã Key achievements  - Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South - Deepening understanding of inequality - Joint advocacy achieving change - Building links from local to global levels ã Lessons learnt: Network management: Oxfam’s role: - The network formation stage is crucial - The importance of getting internal mechanisms for accountability right - An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital - The network secretariat role is important and needs to be agreed upfront ã Lessons learnt: Network development – accountability and sustainability   - Networks need time to evolve  - There should be clarity on the network´s main function  - Efforts should be made to ensure representation of women, different ethnic groups and geographic regions  - Sustainability should be decided by network members, not simply by the availability (or lack) of funding ã Lessons learnt: The implications of working in networks  Introduction Oxfam regards working with partners as central to its model of change. While Oxfam is an organization with a strong global and international presence, working within networks and with other civil society organizations brings significantly more depth, outreach and legitimacy to its influencing work. Oxfam needs to respond to shifts in the global balance of power by developing its ability to influence the governments of the emerging powers, particularly BRICSAM. 3  More than ever, it must also look for ways to help strengthen existing civil society networks in these countries, and develop links between them. This should be a core strategy to influence global processes in which the governments play a key role, and have the potential to act as progressive forces for more just regional and global development. The ECSN 4  BRICSAM programme demonstrates the value of working as part of a truly global network, with capacity and legitimacy to influence the governments of the emerging powers. It provides important learning for Oxfam in terms of its proposal to build a worldwide influencing network.Oxfam and partners have found that there is still a significant gap in the capacity of civil society from emerging powers to engage in South-South dialogue and to work in a coordinated way to influence their governments in the international sphere. In terms of civil society participation, international spaces continue to be dominated by large international NGOs. Representation from the Global South in the international sphere tends to be from business sectors or academia, and far less from civil society. This is also the case at the national level, in that in most of the BRICSAMIT countries, business has much greater influence over relevant ministries and officials leading policy negotiations at the international level than civil society. Given the increasing importance of BRICSAM governments in global decision making processes, it is vital that the voices of people living in poverty and suffering from the grave inequality in these countries are also heard. PARTNERING FOR IMPACT Photo: Oxfam India Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of networks for advocacy in the Global South ã BRICSAM and ECSNã Introductionã Key achievements  - Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South - Deepening understanding of inequality - Joint advocacy achieving change - Building links from local to global levels ã Lessons learnt: Network management: Oxfam’s role: - The network formation stage is crucial - The importance of getting internal mechanisms for accountability right - An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital - The network secretariat role is important and needs to be agreed upfront ã Lessons learnt: Network development – accountability and sustainability   - Networks need time to evolve  - There should be clarity on the network´s main function  - Efforts should be made to ensure representation of women, different ethnic groups and geographic regions  - Sustainability should be decided by network members, not simply by the availability (or lack) of funding ã Lessons learnt: The implications of working in networks
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