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Accepted Paper:

International CSO consortia and the challenge of shaping a locally owned climate justice programme.  
Margit van Wessel (Wageningen University) Wenny Ho (Wageningen University and Research)

Paper short abstract:

This case study of CSO collaborations in an East African country shows how an international CSO consortia’s collaboration challenges were reproduced at country level, obstructing the consortium’s aim to build locally owned climate justice programs. It also proposes how to address these challenges.

Paper long abstract:

Spurred by debates around decolonisation, Southern leadership and local ownership gain traction in designing CSO administered development programs. However, as donor funding is commonly allocated to international CSO consortia, upon approval of the program, the consortium constituents simultaneously need to create an effectively collaborating consortium, and also facilitate a leading role for country-level CSOs. In a case study of an international consortium working on climate justice, we explore the implications of this twin challenge as it played out over the first year of program implementation in an East-African country. Based on 20 interviews with consortium members and country partners, document analysis, participation in meetings and participant observation, the paper shows how typical challenges in consortium collaborations were not only reproduced at country level, but complicated further the development of a locally-led climate justice programme. Collaborations were primarily set up around single consortium partners working from diverse organizational aims and approaches, resulting in a hub-and-spokes model of collaboration. This limited partners to connect with other partner organizations, and overlooked important starting points partner organizations already created regarding collaborations. At the same time, the program offered many opportunities for meaningful bridging that could advance movement building, learning and engaging opportunities for advancing climate justice at country level. The paper concludes that consortium-led program facing similar conditions can meaningfully address these by incorporating in program development critical factors for coalition formation identified in social movement literature, as confirmed by our findings. This can help programmes to both overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities.

Panel P22
Barriers to NGOs and CSOs: the current crises of environment and development ( NGOs in development Study Group)
  Session 1 Thursday 29 June, 2023, -