Immersion Days 2021

Re-imagining the future of International Cooperation – shaping up for stormy times and tapping into emerging potential

Online, 18, 20 & 21 January 2021

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Covid-19 has challenged most of the certainties we had a year ago. The pandemic is a catalyst of what already existed but was hardly noticeable. This applies both to the positive (home office, telehealth, etc.) and less positive aspects, such as inequalities, lack of political cooperation, lack of sustainable management and effective leadership in situations of crisis.

Business as usual has no future. Tomorrow depends on technology and how we use it, on how we shape cooperation and succeed in building trust, and on our ability to adapt in stormy times. How will the “new normal” look like? All we can assume is that it will be marked by increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. A key success factor will be our ability to navigate the unknown and project ourselves into the emerging future. This is true for both individuals and organisations.

A key success factor will be our ability to navigate the unknown and project ourselves into the emerging future.

After our Immersion Day in November 2019, we invite you to continue our collective exploration of the unknown: Welcome to Immersion Days 2021.

Join us online for the kick-off of this new series of co-sensing, co-shaping and prototyping. "Shaping up for stormy times and tapping into emerging potential" consists of 3 initial online sessions. 

For whom

Be prepared for inspiring inputs, and space for individual and group reflection. We offer a platform; you define your field of action and what you take with you.

We welcome humanitarian and development professionals working in the field abroad or at headquarters – whatever their function and specialisation. 

We aim for a diverse group of participants, allowing for a rich exchange of perspectives and experiences. We encourage participation in all sessions to facilitate community building among participants.

Online sessions

Pressing the fast-forward button

#1st session
Monday 18 January, 1 to 3.15 pm (Swiss time)

Embark with us on a lively exchange with the leading futurologist Gerd Leonhard, who will help us shake off the remaining dust of 2020. Awareness of our secret intuitions, concerns and hidden feelings will be the starting point to grow new seeds in the soil.

In his input, Gerd will take us on the path of "Total transformation: what to expect in the next 10 years – and what the impact on international cooperation will be". Gerd is convinced that "the future is better than we think". He will share with us his main observations and foresights for the next 10 years and what they might imply for geopolitics, international collaboration and the work of development actors.


Mobility down? No worries – localisation, new formats of collaboration and networking are key

#2nd session
Wednesday 20 January, 1 to 3.30 pm (Swiss time)

Thank you, virus, for showing us the importance of strong local structures and roots. During the crisis, local employees were the most important actors, they kept things going. You also broke the illusion that travelling around the world was the best and only way to interact effectively with partners and stakeholders.

Theoretically, we wanted to build up capacity locally and shift power for years and technology would have allowed us to consult with colleagues, build teams, manage projects and data, and exercise our leadership remotely for a whole decade.

Now this theory must become practice: let's gather our collective courage to open our minds to new realities and prepare for localisation and human interaction online. Our pioneers Faye Ekong, Ernesto Izquierdo and Makram Soua will lead the flock and protect us from paper wolves. 


Withstanding in stormy times thanks to inner calmness 

#3rd session
Thursday 21 January, 1 to 3.15 pm (Swiss time)

In stormy times like the ones we are experiencing now, stability and calm must come from within – from within ourselves. This session is about YOU. Your inner place – not only your head, but also your heart and even your guts. This session comes with a warning: if you are addicted to looking for stability in strategic plans, power points, logframes and report sheets, this session could be detrimental to your current hairstyle. With the advice of experts for the inner world, we will explore and experiment with tools and approaches to enhance individual resilience – including body, heart and mind. And we will highlight how individual and organisational resilience go hand in hand.


Secure your seat

Register now →

There is one ticket for all sessions. Our advice: We recommend that you attend at least the first and one of the other two sessions. Of course, you will benefit most by attending all sessions.

Keynote speaker and co-hosts

Gerd Leonhard will be keynote speaker for the #1st session

"The future of humanity, of culture and society and of business in the face of exponential technological progress are my passions.

In a world dominated by technology, data and algorithms, by robots and intelligent machines, what does it mean to be human? Are humans and machines really meant to 'grow together'? What can we contribute today to ensure that human happiness and collective prosperity remain the most important goals? Is our current economic system fit for a future of truly unlimited technology?

Focusing on the next 5 to 10 years, I address such topics as digital ethics (ethics of technology), artificial intelligence (AI), the future of work, the new start of education, the digital transformation of business and society, the future of politics and many others during my keynotes, talks, presentations and seminars."

Ernesto Izquierdo will be co-host for the #2nd session

"I have worked on collective intelligence projects since 2012: at the European Commission, Somos Mas, ICRC and have recently co-founded Possibilistes to support managers host more interactive and participatory online meetings. 

Having worked at the intersection between internal communications, innovation, change management, learning & development and operations helps me find the sweet spot where digital tools and social technologies enhance our collective efforts. 

Born in Mexico, and having inherited over 300 years of colonialism, I believe that the development and humanitarian sectors should take more of a facilitator role, where people closest to the issues have the capacity to propose their own solutions. Localisation can be a way to enable this transition from a savior mindset to more of a facilitator. The methodologies we practice, such as the Liberating Structures, are new forms of collaboration and hosting meetings that enable participants to express their ideas, voice them in a safe way, and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.  

I am convinced that we can find better solutions to the challenges ahead of us if we learn to facilitate better conversations."

Faye Ekong will be co-host for the #2nd session

"What does the future of work look like? What does being fit for the future mean at organisational, team and individual level? What do we need to learn or un-learn to embrace and leverage the future of work? Those are some of the questions that intrigue me. Luckily, through my work, I get to delve into the concept of future readiness on a day to day basis. As managing director of RavelWorks Africa, I co-create organisational design, HR and professional development programs that are adapted to the modern workplace.

Having worked in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia, I have experienced the tremendous energy and synergy that can arise from diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, I've also seen the other side of the spectrum where the organisational reflection and dialogue necessary to bring out the best in people and enable people to bring the best version of themselves to work was missing. The future of work is marred by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) and the Covid-19 pandemic has surely helped to highlight this even more clearly. Navigating these unchartered waters successfully requires all of us to consciously and purposefully foster pride, purpose and belonging within our organisations and teams."

Makram Soua will be co-host for the #2nd session

"I know what it takes to enable decision-making closest to the place of implementation and to shift organisational approaches and responsibilities from a mobile centric approach to a more inclusive decision-making process, where all perspectives are considered and valued. 

I am particularly familiar with the odds and challenges of strengthening the responsibilities of resident positions. This approach on equal terms should be applied as well into our partnerships in the way we design our response. We need to capitalise on the diversity of perspectives to build better solutions.

I believe that Covid-19 has shifted my management perspective and given a boost to a more outcome driven management. 

I have been innovating with peers to digitalise ICRC's process to enable the organisation to deliver in faster times messages that connect people across countries affected by war and conflict. I have been a leader experimenting with social networks to cross boundaries and mobilise people remotely to help define common standards for needs assessments. Shifting exchanges from closed email loops to open collaboration across hierarchies, business units and countries."

Asma Khalifa will be co-host for the #2nd session

"As a Libyan activist and researcher, I have worked on human rights, women’s rights and youth empowerment since 2011. Since 2014, I have focused on Peacebuilding in Libya. My work in Libya includes improving women’s participation in local government and addressing gender-based violence. In 2015 I co-founded Tamazight Women Movement, a think/do tank that aims to research and advocate on women’s rights issues in Libya and North Africa. It was the first indigenous women’s movement in Libya. In previous years, I fulfilled several roles as consultant, advisor and researcher on gender issues and capacity building in peacebuilding in Libya. In 2016, I received the Luxembourg Peace Prize during The World Peace Forum in the European Parliament and in 2017 I was named as one of the 100 most influential young Africans by the Africa Youth awards. In 2018 I started my PhD at the German Institute for Global Area Studies, researching the impact of civil war on inter-gender relations.

As co-host for the 2nd session, I will focus with you on inclusion of youth and capacity building."

Martina Wuethrich will be co-host for the #3rd session

"As a psychologist, I am convinced that people and organisations can and have to change. I follow certain principles in my work of counselling people, teams and organisations: to foster a systemic view of people in their environment and organisations, to have confidence that people are capable of finding their possible solution by themselves, to support and empower people in developing and strengthening their self-efficiency, to provide support in opening up and discovering new perspectives that allow for the creation of new options for action.

As I began my career in child psychology, I was confronted with resilience and what it makes possible for children and adolescents living in difficult circumstances. After these years, I took a step further in the field of organisational psychology and worked as a HR consultant for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). During that time, the interaction of organisational and individual development caught my interest. I decided to engage as a consultant for teams and organisations in order to support their development and transformation step by step – with the positive energy they have – and to encourage them to get involved also in difficult and struggling times. I am motivated by my conviction that something good can be created."

Dannette Haley, Abigail Hall and Jitka Peeters (United World Coaches, UWC) will be co-hosts for the #3rd session

"UWC is a pro bono coaching network that works with humanitarian and non-governmental agencies to offer coaching to their staff who work with affected populations. UWC is group of likeminded coaches that are so convinced of the value and impact of coaching that we offer it to people who wouldn’t normally have access to this valuable support: dedicated world workers who work tirelessly to try to alleviate some of the world's suffering. Our volunteer coaches (over 130 all over the world) accompany World Workers with their most pressing challenges. We believe as coaches, if we can help them be more aligned with their professional and personal desires, they will be better equipped to carry out their mission.

Dannette Haley (Co-Founder UWC; Career Development Advisor with the ICRC): My day job at the ICRC is being primarily responsible for inspiring the well-being of my colleagues. How? As a trained coach, I use coaching techniques as an approach to help individuals and teams find sustainable, deep transformative change to their biggest challenges. Through UWC, I believe that everyone deserves a chance a at more fulfilled and purposeful life.

Abigail Hall (Core Creations, Coaching, Leadership, Training; CoActive Training Institute (CTI); Leader UWC): With a background in communications, I have a contagious enthusiasm for increasing self-awareness which led me to CTI, where I'm now a Faculty member. As a coach, trainer and consultant, I take a strong stand for radical self-acceptance and leading and living from a place of truth. As a strong believer in ‘giving back’, I’m also one of the leaders of UWC.

Jitka Peeters (Co-Founder UWC; Jitka Peeters Coaching & Consulting; CoActive Training Institute): I have 20 years of corporate and entrepreneurial leadership experience, working in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the USA. As a coach, trainer and consultant, I’m passionate about connecting individuals and teams to their natural creativity and resourcefulness to create their best and biggest life, and to navigate their ever-changing environments with purpose and clarity.

UWC’s approach to resilience is from the perspective that when tough things happen around us, we get to choose how to respond. Being at choice in our reactions starts from a place of knowing who we are, what is important to us and responding from a position of this knowing (& strength) versus a reaction that is unexpected, not useful and wears us down."

Elsbeth Horbaty will be co-host for the #3rd session

"My work as a resilience trainer is shaped by the experiences from the various stages of my professional and personal life. During my work as a journalist and later in international cooperation, I witnessed how people get affected by religious and political upheavals, dictatorships, revolutions, etc. This motivated me to have a closer look at what it takes for people to develop strength and resilience. Led by these questions, I was inspired to study psychology, organisational development, coaching as well as a method called Somatic Experiencing®. This method helps people to find a way out of trauma trough the awareness of their own body.

With the aim of supporting communities in their challenge to survive difficult times, I've developed resilience trainings for groups. According to their needs, they work out their own resources based on the history of their families and communities.

In this workshop I'll give some brief information about what happens to our body and mind during a crisis. You'll learn how to do exercises with your body to make you feel calmer and safer. We'll look together at some common resources that people have developed and we'll develop yours. You can share these resources with another participant and stay in touch - in a social connection - afterwards."

Secure your seat

Register now →

There is one ticket for all sessions. Our advice: We recommend that you attend at least the first and one of the other two sessions. Of course, you will benefit most by attending all sessions.

Get in touch with...

Nina Prochazka
Project Lead Immersion Days 2021
+41 (0)32 365 80 02