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How do we build a brighter, fairer future? What we learned at our AGM

On Wednesday 2 December we held our first digital Annual General Meeting and All Members meeting online. It was a packed day, with elections for two new trustees at the AGM in the morning; and a panel discussion about power dynamics and perspectives on development assistance, the launch of our 2021-26 policy priorities for the Scottish Parliament and a Keynote speech by Jonathan Glennie launching his new book about global public investment, all in the afternoon.  

The day in numbers

  • Two new Trustees were elected to our board. Our warmest welcome to Jon Novakovic from Mercy Corps Europe and Yukara Weekes from CBM UK!

  • 123 individuals tuned in to our all members meeting from eight different locations around the world- Scotland, Kenya, India, Colombia, Nigeria, the USA, Norway and Luxembourg. 

  • We answered 27 different questions across the day, including: how do we shift the donor status quo? How do we bridge the gap created by COVID-19 to deliver when there is no digital option available? What are the Alliance doing to convene the voices of members on the cuts to ODA? How does emergency aid fit with the idea of Global Public Investment? 

What did we learn about practice?

A brighter future will involve us all thinking critically about power dynamics in all aspects of development assistance. Karimi Kinoti, Head Christian Aid’s of Africa Division asked us to think more about the voice and agency of local communities and what it means to ‘support’. Tatu Gatere, Co-founder and CEO of Buildher in Kenya, challenged us to listen to the things we often dismiss as irrelevant, that people around us think are important and try to really understand their reasons. Anusha Bharadwaj, Executive Director of Voice 4 Girls in India, summarised that funding opportunities going forward have to be collaborative, organic and dynamic, and that practitioners should rely on both project data and the stories coming from the ground.  A video of this session will be available to watch back from 8 December on the previous events page of our website.

What did we learn about policy?

Recently released polling that we commissioned suggests that over 73% of the Scottish public think it is important that the Scottish Government ensure the global effects of policy decisions made in Scotland are taken into account. The findings support the Alliance’s call for all of Scotland’s political parties to demonstrate global solidarity ahead of next year’s 2021 Holyrood election. Lewis Ryder-Jones, Deputy CEO at the Alliance stressed that “We hope this polling encourages all political parties to support our calls for a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill. Tackling global poverty and inequality and standing in solidarity with the most marginalised and vulnerable people must be at the heart of everything we do, not just our external relations.” 

What did we learn from academic thinking?

Jonathan Glennie advocates for a shift from the language of aid to global public investment, where all countries are contributors and recipients of international monies. The paradigm shift away from the current model with its associated narratives of white saviours, would require us to think big, think public and take the lead. The COVID-19 pandemic might be used as a reason for us to shift models, because health is a global issue and global public goods need investment. Jonathan argues that development starts when acute poverty has been alleviated, and the goal should not be to ‘do ourselves out of a job’ and leave a country after a project. 

What did we learn about digital delivery?

Digital meetings can bring us together from different corners of the globe but it can also be isolating. We learned that sometimes the simplest technologies can be the best (for example to enable trustee votes) and that having dedicated technical support is crucial. How to make Zoom meetings the most engaging possible and finding tactics to battle Zoom fatigue are perpetual challenges we are all still trying to solve. Creating time for introductions, using video and creating a space to convene discussions afterwards are all steps we are trying to take. If you attended the day, please let us know how we can improve future events by taking our feedback survey.  

Finally, thank you to all those who attended, presented and reflected with us. And a special thanks to our Chair, Simon Anderson of IIED, session facilitators Geraldine Hill of SCIAF and Cathy Ratcliff of Thrive Scotland. If you attended the day and would like to continue the conversations with members, please use the Alliance Community discussion thread about perspectives on development and global public investment. 

To find out more about our achievements and activities from the year just gone, you can read out Annual review for 2019-20

How can I revisit the day and access the session recordings?

If you missed out on the day, or would like to revisit it, recordings of the sessions within our All Member meeting are now available via teh dedicated Previous Events webpage as well as on our Youtube channel.

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