cinfo Launches Community Platform to Promote Localisation in the Swiss Global Cooperation Sector

The recent launch of cinfo’s Community Platform on Localisation brought together stakeholders from across the Swiss international development and aid sector in Biel-Bienne and online. The event introduced a dedicated platform aimed at supporting and strengthening locally led practices within organisations. 

2 Luglio 2024
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The meeting (see PDF programme) featured a panel of experts and practitioners from the multilateral system, non-profit conservation and trans-boundary research, who shared their perspectives on experiences of putting localisation commitments into practice. Reflecting the objectives of the community platform, the World Cafés that followed invited participants to learn from the experiences of Terre des Hommes Lausanne, Somaha Foundation and UNHCR in operationalising recently launched policies or commitments, and to share their own practical steps and learnings.

Encouraging dialogue and exchange across sectors

The cinfo platform offers actors in the Swiss global cooperation sector a structured yet flexible framework for engagement, hosting regular interactions and engagement to support and maintain momentum in the implementation and refinement of localisation strategies. It aims to remain inclusive, giving a wide range of stakeholders the opportunity to contribute equally.

Integrating global insights with local expertise

The platform integrates global perspectives with local insights, connecting Swiss-based organisations with global, regional and local initiatives. It will also serve as a resource hub, providing access to practical case studies and approaches, research and best practices that support continuous learning and the practical application of more equitable practices in our work. The platform will focus on actionable steps to operationalise localisation, enabling stakeholders to develop tangible solutions and learn from the experiences of other actors and their peers.

Key takeaways from the panel discussion

Our panelists reflected the diversity of the global cooperation sector. The exchange aimed to expose the audience to the different realities of operationalising sector commitments and organisational policies and guidelines through the lens of three actors and bodies working in the humanitarian, development and research fields (UN IASC Task Force on Localisation, Maliasili, KPFE). Through interviews, research and meetings with dozens of global actors, our panelists shared these operational challenges and learnings:

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Growth and impact

  • Funding constraints: Local organisations struggle with a lack of core funding, which affects their ability to cover essential operating costs and grow sustainably. Most funding is tied to specific projects.
  • Short-term planning: Reliance on short-term, project-based funding hinders long-term impact and capacity building.
  • Unequal distribution of resources, with a significant proportion going to intermediaries or larger international NGOs, hampers the capacity of local organisations.
  • Low visibility in the global arena limits access to funding opportunities, and inflexible funding limits their ability to adapt and innovate.
  • Stifled innovation: High expectations of immediate results and lack of R&D funding make it difficult for local leaders to innovate.

Participation and partnership

  • Participation in decision-making: Local actors often have limited involvement in strategic decisions.
  • Language barriers: The use of inaccessible languages prevents full participation.
  • We need to listen more to local organisations and value their unique challenges and strengths - local voices need to be heard and their input acted upon.
  • We should encourage joint strategy development: Partnerships involve the joint development of visions and strategies that enable local organisations to shape their future.
  • Providing tailored support: Support includes helping organisations to develop strategic plans, build robust systems and secure resources for growth.
  • Effective support for local leadership shows positive results when local actors are given autonomy.
  • Equitable partnerships are essential for diverse, interdisciplinary approaches to global problems.
  • The value of local knowledge must be recognised and local partners must be given an equal voice.
  • International coordination should complement local efforts and understand local contexts.

Trust-based funding and measuring commitment

  • Honest conversations: Openly discuss financial dynamics and power imbalances to build trust.
  • Learn from failure: Allowing local organisations to learn from their mistakes fosters innovation and long-term growth.
  • Retention and growth: Providing unrestricted funding helps retain trained staff and build infrastructure for sustainable success.
  • Financial dynamics: Meeting the 25% funding commitment to local actors is challenging due to inconsistencies in measurement.

Challenges in localisation

  • Setting the agenda together: Successful partnerships start with setting agendas and defining responsibilities together.
  • Sharing the benefits: Ensuring that local partners benefit from research findings and can apply them in their context.
  • Integrating knowledge: Combining local and global research for comprehensive solutions.
  • Long-term impact: Balancing immediate project impact with long-term capacity building.
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Beyond the launch

cinfo is committed to ensuring that the platform evolves and adapts to reflect the needs of its members. Through existing Communities of Practice, we have learned that regular engagement and peer-to-peer exchange can and does help to sustain dialogue. In this way, we look forward to accompanying and supporting the practical implementation of localisation strategies of the platform’s members.

For more information