Saturday, March 31, 2007

Knowledge and Information Sharing Strategies in Dutch Development

On 21 March 2007, Euforic with WOTRO organized a half-day workshop on Knowledge and Information Sharing Strategies in Dutch development organizations.

For the host organization, Cora Govers introduced the work of WOTRO - Mobilizing knowledge at the interface of science, policy and practice; Sarah Cummings talked about the KM4D Journal, the IKM Emergent research proposal, and Dgroups as examples of a development 'polder model' bringing policymakers, researchers and practitioners together in knoweldge sharing partnerships.

Thereafter, four major actors in Dutch development shared some perspectives on their knowledge and information plans.

Julie Ferguson talked about the knowledge-based programming of Hivos, 2007-2010. Under the banner 'knowledge entrepreneurship', Hivos has developed a knowledge 'integrating' strategy that will prioritize knowledge development through research, knowledge sharing through linking and sharing, knowledge leveraging for lobby and advocacy, and knowledge application through spaces for reflection and learning. These activities will be focused on in-depth programmes focused on themes like civil society building in closed societies, freedom of expression, fundamentalism and democratic pluralism, and civil society building strategies.

Maarten Boers introduced the plans for knowledge sharing and learning of the ICCO Alliance capacity building programme. The plans are based around learning networks on different themes - such as peacebuilding, religion and development, food security - in which the knowledge of different partners will be mobilized and applied to development problems.

Kathelijn Hendrikse updated participants on Cordaid's new partner-oriented information sharing portal. This has multiple objectives, such as: To strengthen relationships between Cordaid partners and to create new ones, to exchange knowledge, lessons learned and practices, to keep Cordaid partners well informed about conferences, events, workshops, and news, and to create a platform for Cordaid related initiatives and information. The first testing phase is now almost complete and 75 partner organizations will soon be invited to test the platform. Some challenges identified by Kathelijn included: initiating thematic discussions, dealing with delicate subjects, getting partner organisations enthusiastic about the tool, and the complexity of the target group.

Finally, Ingeborg Denissen introduced efforts by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to use knowledge and research effectively in efforts to combat poverty and bring about sustainable development. The issues are seen in a 'systems approach' that considers that knowledge relevant to poverty reduction (PR) and sustainable development (SD) is "not automatically generated and applied"; that PR and SD are promoted by "knowledge development and interactive learning within networks"; and that research is seen in "combination with other forms of knowledge acquisition." Two important instruments are the 'IS Academy' that promotes relations between research and policy makers; and the Ministry's 'Chief Scientist' who acts as an overall champion for knowledge management activities in the ministry.

After the plenary session, participants gathered in participatory 'world cafe' style groups - facilitated by Lucie Lamoureux - to discuss issues raised by colleagues attending from Stop AIDS Now (Adolfo Lopez), IICD (Joitske Hulsebosch), Bernard van Leer Foundation (Reinhard Skinner and Vera van der Grift), PSO (Bram Langen), and ECDPM (Niels Keijzer).

See also the Euforic dossier on information, knowledge, communication.

by Peter Ballantyne