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Sprouting Our Collective Wisdom: Towards a Politics of Practice for Activist-led Accompaniment: Lessons from the Global Resilience Fund

June 13, 2022

We have chosen the title 'Spouting Our Collective Wisdom' as an ode to the collective knowledge and learning that has emerged from different corners of the world during the pandemic. We draw inspiration from the natural world, the cycles of growth, of co-dependence, metamorphosis, and the connectivity across ecosystems in nature around us. Through our relationships across our work in the Global Resilience Fund (GRF), with activists and funders, we have created an environment for ongoing learning, unlearning, reflection and for sprouting new ideas and experimenting with care, love and friendship as our guide.This report gives an overview of the Global Resilience Fund's activist-led accompaniment with early reflections and observations. Our intention is to inspire others to center the vision and leadership of girls and young activists in providing accompaniment, and for others to learn from our experience. 

Powered by the People: Community-Driven Change in Urban Informal Settlements

June 1, 2022

A decade ago, a Muslim religious scholar named Hussain Khan was a vocal critic of the Mahila Mandal Federation (MMF), a Mumbai-based grassroots women's group, which has been nurtured by an NGO called CORO for the past 20 years. He questioned MMF's efforts to help women take on leadership roles in their communities in urban informal settlements. But instead of viewing Khan as an adversary, MMF believed he might one day become an ally.Today, Khan hosts MMF meetings at his madrassa (school), which traditionally excludes women. And he has developed a course, "Quran and the Constitution," which builds community members' awareness of their constitutional rights and their moral responsibility to help neighbours in need.What prompted Khan's change of heart?Along with MMF, CORO spent three years conversing with Khan about the challenges women living in urban informal settlements encounter, including domestic violence and low access to education. CORO was well-positioned to engage in those meetings, since it is largely led by Dalit and Muslim people who live in the communities in which they work. Khan was later selected into CORO's Samta Fellowship, where he spent a full year reflecting on the values enshrined in the Indian constitution and acquiring leadership and movement-building skills that he took back to his community.It is not an accident that Khan now champions the work of a grassroots group that he formerly opposed. It is an outgrowth of CORO's core approach to supporting community-driven change: to meet people where they are and earn their trust. The idea is to unlock their "power within" to advocate for the rights of Dalits, Muslims, and other historically marginalised communities to have an equal opportunity to advance their lives.To learn more about how this kind of ground up, community-driven change comes to life, a Bridgespan Group team spent several months researching and interviewing CORO as well as three other NGOs in the Global South: Mumbai-based Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA); Kenya's Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); and Ubuntu Pathways (UP), which works in South Africa's Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) townships.Our research reaffirmed that community-driven change is challenging to execute. Multifaceted power dynamics related to gender, caste, class, and religion often pose significant barriers to change. However, we also learned that, despite all of this, the four NGOs pushed past those challenges to build long track records of success by playing a supporting role as community groups built their own solutions. Tightly focusing on a few NGOs, rather than on many, gave us a close-up look at on-the-ground approaches to working with community members as they take steps towards leading their own change. One of our main insights was the similarities in how community-driven organisations think. Specifically, we identified five mutually reinforcing mindsets that help orient these NGOs around community members' priorities and lived experience. 

Mobilizing Money and Movements: Creative finance for food systems transformation

May 24, 2022

The report Mobilizing Money and Movements: Creative finance for food systems transformation provides investors with a roadmap of creative finance strategies that support entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and social movements to transform local food economies. Conducted by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative (TIFS), this report showcases six food-focused initiatives that have incorporated unique investment strategies that blend a spectrum of financial capital to both stimulate social enterprise and achieve sustainable, equitable, and secure food systems.

Morocco, Algeria, Egypt: Assessing EU plans to import hydrogen from North Africa

May 15, 2022

A new study commission by CEO and the Transnational Institute shows the EU's plan to drastically increase imports of renewable hydrogen from North Africa is not realistic from a cost or energy perspective, and instead diverts renewable electricity away from local needs and local climate targets.The study was written by energy expert Michael Barnard and sees production costs making renewable hydrogen potentially up to 11 times more expensive than using natural gas, and that's before storage and transport costs are factored in.The EU's unrealistic import targets are allowing Big Oil and Gas to sneak hydrogen from natural gas through the back door, using green hydrogen as a trojan horse to keep drilling and selling their main product.

Conflicts, Crises and Displaced People: How the Global Fund Works in Challenging Operating Environments

May 12, 2022

In 2022, the world faces unprecedented global health challenges that are putting the most vulnerable communities more at risk. COVID-19 continues to cause huge loss of life, human suffering and economic and social disruption across the world. Hard-won gains against HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are being reversed, with devastating consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable communities. Climate change and increasing conflict and displacement are affecting the epidemiology and transmission of existing diseases and facilitating the emergence of new ones. Inequities have deepened and poverty is increasing, particularly in countries affected by conflict, disaster and insecurity.

Future Africa Early Career Research Leader Fellowship: A reflection on the early career research leaders for Africa's future

May 3, 2022

It is with great appreciation that the University recognises the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY). Through the Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF), it provided a nurturing opportunity to twelve promising early career researchers from ten tertiary institutions in six countries across East, West and Southern Africa, as well as the Indian Ocean island country of Mauritius, over the past three years.This publication showcases the success stories of each of these postdoctoral fellows, and subsequently the successful interventions of their UP mentors, facilitated through Future Africa, to fill a critical gap in the African research capacity development ecosystem.

Rebuilding systems: National stories of social and emotional learning reform

April 25, 2022

Especially in a world where technology moves at the speed of light, climate change threatens drastic shifts, and a pandemic has upended how we live and work – for worse and better.Policymakers from around the world agree. We spoke to education leaders in Australia, Colombia, Finland, Peru, South Africa, and South Korea about how they've built back systems to foster these essential skills. We're sharing their ideas far and wide through our report, so we can help keep up momentum and drive the conversation forward.

Write for Rights 2021 Campaign Report

April 12, 2022

In 2021 Write for Rights (W4R) was 20 years old. Beginning as grassroots activism in Poland, the campaign now sees over 70 Amnesty entities taking part and people in 120 countries around the world taking action either in person or online.Covid-19 continued to impact campaigning for Write for Rights, with many countries still imposing strict rules around group gatherings. There was however light at the end of the tunnel for some national entities, who did manage to hold in person events. For those who couldn't, the innovations and 'outside the box' thinking continued, with creativity and technology helping make restrictions less restrictive!As we rapidly head into planning for Write for Rights 2022, now is the time to reflect on what we all did together and the amazing ways we worked for positive human rights change in the lives of 10 individuals and communities at risk. 

Weaponized storytelling a la francaise: Demystifying France's narratives around its arms export policies

April 6, 2022

Through the five conflict case studies, the report explores other arguments that make up this storytelling a la francaise. Two of its pillars are the idea that French export control processes are already "strict, transparent and responsible" enough as they are, and the proposition that weapons sales are an intrinsically essential support to the country's strategic autonomy and foreign policy interests. This latter priority include the crucial need to be a reliable long-term supplier and to sustain strategic partnerships often associated with such arms trade.

Ending Street Homelessness in Vanguard Cities Across the Globe: An International Comparative Study

April 5, 2022

Street homelessness is one of the most extreme, and visible, manifestations of profound injustice on the planet, but often struggles to achieve priority attention at international level. The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH's) A Place to Call Home initiative, launched in 2017, represented a concerted effort to support cities across the globe to eradicate street homelessness. A first cohort of 13 'Vanguard Cities' committed to a specific target on ending or reducing street homelessness by December 2020. Our independent evaluation of this initiative found that:Two Vanguard Cities – Glasgow and Sydney – fully met their self-defined target reductions for end 2020. In addition, Greater Manchester, while it did not meet its exceptionally ambitious goal of 'ending all rough sleeping', recorded an impressive 52% reduction against baseline.Overall, there was evidence of reductions in targeted aspects of street homelessness in over half of the Vanguard Cities. In most of the remaining cities data limitations, sometimes as a result of COVID, meant that it was not possible to determine trends. In only one Vanguard City – Edmonton – was there an evidenced increase in street homelessness over baseline levels.Key enablers of progress in reducing street homelessness included the presence of a lead coordinating agency, and coordinated entry to homelessness services, alongside investment in specialized and evidence-based interventions, such as assertive street outreach services, individual case management and Housing First.Key barriers to progress included heavy reliance on undignified and sometimes unsafe communal shelters, a preoccupation with meeting immediate physiological needs, and sometimes perceived spiritual needs, rather than structural and system change, and a lack of emphasis on prevention. Aggressive enforcement interventions by police and city authorities, and documentary and identification barriers, were also counter-productive to attempts to reduce street homelessness.A key contextual variable between the Vanguard Cities was political will, with success in driving down street homelessness associated with high-level political commitments. An absolute lack of funds was a major challenge in all of the Global South cities, but also in resource-poor settings in the Global North. Almost all Vanguard Cities cited pressures on the affordable housing stock as a key barrier to progress, but local lettings and other policies could make a real difference.The impact of the COVID-19 crisis differed markedly across the Vanguard Cities, with people at risk of street homelessness most effectively protected in the UK and Australian cities. Responses were less inclusive and ambitious in the North American and Global South cities, with more continued use of 'shared air' shelters, albeit that in some of these contexts the pandemic prompted better coordination of local efforts to address street homelessness.IGH involvement was viewed as instrumental in enhancing the local profile, momentum and level of ambition attached to reducing street homelessness in the Vanguard Cities. IGH's added value to future cohorts of cities could be maximised via a focus on more tailored forms of support specific to the needs of each city, and also to different types of stakeholders, particularly frontline workers.

Breadbasket to Bread Lines: Global Food Security After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

April 1, 2022

Global food prices were already rising significantly before the invasion of Ukraine. The invasion, however, has set off another round of price increases for basic foodstuffs including grains (notably wheat) and cooking oils such as sunflower oil. As the invasion continues into the spring planting season, pushing many Ukrainian farmers off their farms, the effects could easily become dire: the UN has warned of the distinct consequences of a severe food crisis later this year in many countries around the world, notably in the Middle East and Africa, with millions of people at risk of food insecurity because of higher prices and lack of supply.The Conference Board first addressed this broad subject of food security on March 15 with a paper asking "What If Russia/Ukraine Grain Trade Halts?" That paper stated that Russia and Ukraine together "supply 16 percent of global exports of grains" and examined current global "stockpiles that can be tapped for exports, and the capacity of internal infrastructure and labor to facilitate ramped up trade. India, the US, and the EU appear uniquely positioned to step in to feed the world." However, the paper also noted that "[t]he human suffering of the war in Ukraine could potentially extend out exponentially to the rest of the globe by exacerbating global food insecurity. The armed conflict . . . could seriously disrupt production and exports of grain to very vulnerable countries."This Policy Brief supplements that paper as the war has continued and also focuses on several specific issues regarding the serious prospect of global food insecurity, with particularly strong impacts in regions including the Middle East and Africa. 

The Unfreedom Monitor: A Methodology for Tracking Digital Authoritarianism Around the World

April 1, 2022

Digital communications technologies have been a powerful tool in the advancement of democratic governance, but in recent years there is concern that they are being used to undermine democracy as well. The Unfreedom Monitor, part of Global Voices' Advox project, aims to study and report on this growing phenomenon. This briefing document provides an overview of key developments in digital authoritarianism in a sample of 10 countries, while explaining the theoretical framework and methodology behind the project. The document also provides a basis for expanding this research to other countries so we can deepen our understanding of digital authoritarianism globally as well as its crucial implications for the future.