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Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network of

networks for advocacy in the Global South


PARTNERING FOR IMPACT
My experience in the management team for the Empowering Civil Society Networks in an
Unequal Multi-Polar World Programme (ECSN BRICSAM) by Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez

www.csnbricsam.org1
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN About the author Partnering for Impact series
Introduction Thomas is a dual Mexican/British national who now To do the work it does, Oxfam works closely with
lives in Mexico City. For the past three years, he partners at all stages of the programme, in all kind of
Key achievements contexts: humanitarian, influencing, development, etc.
has been working as Deputy Manager for the ECSN
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South
global programme which supports CSO networks in But what does it mean for our staff? Each day brings
- Deepening understanding of inequality
- Joint advocacy achieving change the BRICSAM countries. He has recently changed new challenges and opportunities, so how do they do
- Building links from local to global levels role, and is now influencing adviser with a specific it? Following a reflective and productive writeshop2 ,
focus on Latin America. He is passionate about this Partnering for Impact series was developed to
Lessons learnt: Network management: supporting the work of social movements which share and explore learning from experienced
Oxfams role: practitioners about what it takes to work well in
mobilise around a human rights and social justice
- The network formation stage is crucial
agenda, and partnership.
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
accountability right feels that too
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital often the voices
- The network secretariat role is important and of people
needs to be agreed upfront involved and
leading such
Lessons learnt: Network development
accountability and sustainability movements are
- Networks need time to evolve not heard
- T here should be clarity on the networks main within
function international
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation development
of women, different ethnic groups and circles.
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding Left, For richer or poorer? This report was commissioned by civil society
networks across the BRICSAMIT countries.
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in
Previous page: Morro do Papagaio at Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
networks Photo: Fred Cardoso
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN

Introduction
RUSSIA
Key achievements
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South
- Deepening understanding of inequality
CHINA
- Joint advocacy achieving change MEXICO

- Building links from local to global levels


INDiA

Lessons learnt: Network management:


Oxfams role: INDONESIA
- The network formation stage is crucial
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for BRaZIL

accountability right
SOUTH AFRICA
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and
needs to be agreed upfront

Lessons learnt: Network development


BRICSAM refers to Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, achieve change not just at their respective national
accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve China, South Africa and Mexico. It is an acronym used levels, but also in their regions and globally. Since the
- T here should be clarity on the networks main by Oxfam that refers to the group of emerging start of the ECSN BRICSAM programme, Turkey and
function economies that are likely to become increasingly Indonesia have been added to this grouping within
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation important not only due to their growing economic size, Oxfam, which is now referred to as the BRICSAMIT. In
of women, different ethnic groups and but also their political weight in multilateral five of these countries Oxfam has an established
geographic regions institutions. These seven countries are also home to presence through a national Oxfam affiliate.
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
the majority of people living in poverty in the world ECSN Empowering Civil Society Networks in an
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
around 2.5 billion people living on less than $5 a day Unequal, Multi-Polar World is a programme currently
of funding
live in just these seven countries. Oxfam also funded by the European Union and Oxfam. The acronym
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in recognizes that this set of countries hosts diverse ECSN BRICSAM is used in this document when referring
networks and vibrant civil societies that have the potential to to this programme.
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Introduction and have the potential to act as progressive forces for
more just regional and global development.
Introduction Oxfam regards working with partners as central to its
model of change. While Oxfam is an organization with The ECSN4 BRICSAM programme demonstrates the
Key achievements value of working as part of a truly global network, with
a strong global and international presence, working
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South
within networks and with other civil society capacity and legitimacy to influence the governments
- Deepening understanding of inequality
organizations brings significantly more depth, of the emerging powers. It provides important learning
- Joint advocacy achieving change
- Building links from local to global levels outreach and legitimacy to its influencing work. for Oxfam in terms of its proposal to build a worldwide
influencing network.
Lessons learnt: Network management: Oxfam needs to respond to shifts in the global balance
of power by developing its ability to influence the Oxfam and partners have found that there is still a
Oxfams role:
- The network formation stage is crucial governments of the emerging powers, particularly significant gap in the capacity of civil society from
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for BRICSAM.3 More than ever, it must also look for ways to emerging powers to engage in South-South dialogue
accountability right help strengthen existing civil society networks in and to work in a coordinated way to influence their
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital governments in the international sphere. In terms of
these countries, and develop links between them. This
- The network secretariat role is important and civil society participation, international spaces
needs to be agreed upfront
should be a core strategy to influence global
processes in which the governments play a key role, continue to be dominated by large international NGOs.
Lessons learnt: Network development Representation from the Global South in the
accountability and sustainability international sphere tends to be from business
- Networks need time to evolve sectors or academia, and far less from civil society.
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
This is also the case at the national level, in that in
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation most of the BRICSAMIT countries, business has much
of women, different ethnic groups and greater influence over relevant ministries and officials
geographic regions leading policy negotiations at the international level
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network than civil society. Given the increasing importance of
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) BRICSAM governments in global decision making
of funding
processes, it is vital that the voices of people living in
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in poverty and suffering from the grave inequality in
networks Photo: Oxfam India these countries are also heard.
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN The ECSN BRICSAM programme builds on this is to engage collectively and influence policy making
opportunity for a solidarity movement in the Global at global policy making forums, such as BRICS and G20.
Introduction
South5 to engage in global-level advocacy, and This is delivered via active working groups on issues
Key achievements specifically aims to support a coalition of seven related to inequality, such as access to health, food
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South national civil society network partners one in each systems, economic models and gender. In each of the
- Deepening understanding of inequality of the BRICSAM countries to do the following: BRICSAM countries, Oxfams role is to lead the capacity
- Joint advocacy achieving change development efforts with each of the seven civil
a) Strengthen mechanisms for participation of civil
- Building links from local to global levels
society in global forums, such as BRICS6 and G20.7 society networks, providing intelligence and advocacy
Lessons learnt: Network management: b) Influence the agenda in these global forums. approaches, and sharing its own experience of
Oxfams role: c) Achieve changes in policy within global forums to engaging with the G20, BRICS, and other global
- The network formation stage is crucial the benefit of poor and marginalized people not only in processes. The current programme phase is funded by
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for the BRICSAM countries, but also around the world. the European Union.
accountability right
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital Each network has its own local and national This paper seeks to highlight learning from the
- The network secretariat role is important and membership base, together constituting an successes and challenges of developing a network of
needs to be agreed upfront international network of networks. The purpose of this networks across countries in the Global South.

Lessons learnt: Network development


accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation
of women, different ethnic groups and
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding

Lessons learnt: The implications of working in


networks Ostashkov market, Russia. Street-sellers offer a small range of goods that require little or no capital outlay. Photo: Geoff Sayer
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Key achievements Representatives from partner networks have taken up
leadership roles in BRICS and G20 civil society dialogue
Introduction Leadership in Global Forums from the processes. During the 2015 Civil 208 process the
Global South official space for civil society participation within the
Key achievements
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South Through the programme, seven national civil society G20 they co-led thematic working groups on
- Deepening understanding of inequality networks have been able to position themselves as inclusive growth, gender, sustainability and taxation.
- Joint advocacy achieving change civil society leaders from their respective countries at At the Civil BRICS summit in 2015, the Russian network
- Building links from local to global levels the global level. They now provide crucial links was part of the steering group for the summit, and as
between certain international institutions and the a result, was able to lead a panel to discuss
Lessons learnt: Network management:
Oxfams role: voices and concerns of their constituencies at the inequality, an issue that had not been on the original
- The network formation stage is crucial grassroots level. agenda for the summit. Both Civil BRICS and C20
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for declarations were presented to high-level government
accountability right
officials. In the case of the C20, this was presented to,
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and
and well received by, the Deputy Prime Minister of
needs to be agreed upfront Turkey, the seat of the G20 presidency in 2015.

Lessons learnt: Network development Deepening understanding of inequality


accountability and sustainability Inequality has become the key common thematic
- Networks need time to evolve
thread for the ECSN civil society networks. As several
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
BRICSAM governments increasingly speak of the need
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation to reduce inequality, the networks have been able to
of women, different ethnic groups and challenge the approaches taken by their countries
geographic regions where necessary and emphasize the need to tackle
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network the structural drivers of the problem. The main ways of
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
achieving this have been through research pieces,
of funding
position papers, direct advocacy with governments
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in Brazil. A Guarani-kaiow indigenous community who were evicted from and participation in global forums. For example, the
their land to make way for a sugar plantation now live in a temporary camp.
networks Photo: Tatiana Cardeal networks were able to lead a key joint piece of
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN research, For Richer or Poorer: The Capture of Growth Joint advocacy achieving change
and Politics in Emerging Economies. This research ECSN partner networks have engaged in joint advocacy
Introduction
draws out trends causing concern regarding the at a series of global processes, namely BRICS in 2014
Key achievements concentration of income and wealth in the BRICSAM and 2015, the G20 process in 2014 and 2015, the
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South countries, and the political implications this has. This Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa
- Deepening understanding of inequality work is innovative in that it has enabled the network in 2015, and the Sustainable Development Goals
- Joint advocacy achieving change
of networks to build its own narrative, led from the Adoption Summit in New York. This has enabled the
- Building links from local to global levels
Global South, on the nature and implications of ECSN network partners to gain considerable knowledge
Lessons learnt: Network management: inequality in this set of countries. This pool of learning on how global policy making processes work, and how
Oxfams role: from a South to South, civil society perspective is an to get some form of citizen voice and a more diverse
- The network formation stage is crucial important contribution to global debates around set of ideas and perspectives into these meetings. The
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
inequality. It also yields potential to influence the ECSN network of networks played a crucial role in
accountability right
positions of BRICSAM governments as they continue to establishing both the C20 and Civil BRICS processes, as
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and take on leading roles within global governance and channels for participation from civil society in the
needs to be agreed upfront new global financial institutions.9 Global South, and within these processes, ECSN was

Lessons learnt: Network development


accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation
of women, different ethnic groups and
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding

Lessons learnt: The implications of working in


networks Caarap Municipality , Brazil. Photo: Tatiana Cardeal
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN central to civil society calls for reducing inequality to
be at the centre of the agenda. In fact, in 2015, the
Introduction
Turkish presidency of the G20 made inclusive growth a
Key achievements core theme, and commended the participants of the
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South C20 for their work and positions on this issue. As with
- Deepening understanding of inequality many forms of advocacy it is impossible to attribute
- Joint advocacy achieving change this to ECSN alone. However, we are clear that a
- Building links from local to global levels
contribution to this process was made.
Lessons learnt: Network management:
Oxfams role:
Building links from local to global levels
- The network formation stage is crucial Each of the networks has held a series of outreach
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for activities at the national level. This has helped their
accountability right constituencies to understand how the particular
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
discussions and decisions taken within BRICS and the
- The network secretariat role is important and
G20 impact their national-level work, and in several
needs to be agreed upfront
countries the ECSN partner network has become the
Lessons learnt: Network development key convenor of civil society for input into these global
accountability and sustainability processes. Critically, this is opening up a typically
- Networks need time to evolve
closed space to allow for alternative views, ideas and
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
perspectives to be considered. In Brazil, Indonesia and
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation South Africa the civil society networks now hold
of women, different ethnic groups and regular discussions with representatives from their
geographic regions respective foreign ministries, a key entry point in order
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network to influence the position of their governments at
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) BRICS, the G20 or other global institutions. In these
of funding
three countries, they are considered the go to civil
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in society interlocutor on issues related to global
Leonard Kufeketa,brush seller in Parkhurst, an expensive suburb of
networks engagement and foreign policy. Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Zed Nelson
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Lessons learnt: Network The importance of getting internal
mechanisms for accountability right
Introduction management Oxfams role
Linking organizations and national networks from
Key achievements The network formation stage is crucial
seven different countries implies working across very
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South The way in which networks are formed is crucial. In this different contexts and levels of capacity. It is
- Deepening understanding of inequality case, the ECSN BRICSAM network was formed through a unrealistic to expect each network member to be at
- Joint advocacy achieving change selection process led by Oxfam, based on its long- the same level to engage with global advocacy. Clarity
- Building links from local to global levels
standing relationships with partner networks in each of on differing levels of experience and ability needs to
Lessons learnt: Network management: the BRICSAM countries. This process was not conducive be established otherwise, varied levels of
Oxfams role: to the rapid formation of a global network of networks expectation can lead to considerable frustration.
- The network formation stage is crucial because for most of the member networks, it was the Secondly, it is important for a suitable governance
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for first time they had collaborated, and it took structure to be in place within the network, so that it
accountability right considerable time for them to get to know one is the collective itself which holds individual members
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
anothers political positions and ways of operating, and
- The network secretariat role is important and
therefore to build trust. A more flexible process
needs to be agreed upfront
involving potential network partners and considering
Lessons learnt: Network development their pre-existing links would probably ease the
accountability and sustainability formation stage. A clearer and perhaps more detailed
- Networks need time to evolve
set of selection criteria would also help to ensure that
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
each member was engaging more or less from the same
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation level or starting point. These aspects would also help
of women, different ethnic groups and ensure that all network members consider the decision
geographic regions making process around selection sufficiently
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network democratic. Beyond this, a clearer inception process,
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) by which each member of the network of networks took
of funding
ownership of the programme design, but also signed up
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in to a kind of MoU with each of the other network
networks members would be important. Suburban rooftops, Kunming city, China. Photo: Peter Wollinga
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN to account for delivering on specific roles and tasks making from Oxfams side. There is a tension between
within the network. Traditional, more top-down delivering on the financial and programme
Introduction
accountability mechanisms, such as the donor- management side, and providing an autonomous
Key achievements recipient relationship, are not conducive to a true space for network members to take independent
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South networked approach, which should be more horizontal. decisions and to hold each other mutually accountable
- Deepening understanding of inequality The experience of ECSN BRICSAM shows that this is, for taking the leadership of the network forward.
- Joint advocacy achieving change perhaps, one of the most difficult aspects of network
- Building links from local to global levels
building to get right. Even though an autonomous An autonomous space to set the agenda is
steering committee with one member from each vital
Lessons learnt: Network management:
Oxfams role: network was established, the funding relationship Within ECSN BRICSAM one of the first things the global
- The network formation stage is crucial managed by Oxfam meant that, in reality, there has programme unit (based within Oxfam) did was to set up a
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for always been a degree of dependence on decision steering committee, composed of one senior
accountability right representative from each of the networks. While Oxfam
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital played the role of facilitator of this committee, this space
- The network secretariat role is important and
was the main decision making body for the direction the
needs to be agreed upfront
network should take. In this case, in an attempt to
Lessons learnt: Network development protect the space for partner networks to lead on the
accountability and sustainability strategic direction of the initiative, Oxfam did not
- Networks need time to evolve participate as a member of the steering committee.
- T here should be clarity on the networks main However, our learning is that most of the other networks
function
would have been happy for Oxfam to be part of this, if not
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation
of women, different ethnic groups and
as an equal member, with a clearly defined and mutually
geographic regions agreed formal role including aspects such as programme
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network management, facilitator of capacity development, and in
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) some cases as political partner. Clarity on each
of funding stakeholders role, including Oxfams, as either a
facilitator or full network member, should be agreed from
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in
networks the outset. If Oxfam is to be a full network member, then
Vegetable plot, West Timor, Indonesia. Photo: Tom Greenwood
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN as for all members, individual roles and responsibilities It is important for Oxfam to reflect with the network
need to be made explicit, preferably through a written members on the implications of its particular relation to
Introduction
document, such as a terms of reference. Without such the network as a funder as well as a donor contract
Key achievements transparency, it is more likely that Oxfam will be seen to manager, as facilitator, as political partner and to
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South be having a more manipulative, behind the scenes role, decide with the members what the best option for
- Deepening understanding of inequality even if this is not the intention. Oxfams role and for the network structure should be.
- Joint advocacy achieving change Clearly this can be different in each network depending
- Building links from local to global levels The network secretariat role is important and on context, capacities and needs. If Oxfam is to take on
needs to be agreed upfront more than just the management of the funding
Lessons learnt: Network management:
Oxfams role: Throughout the three years that ECSN BRICSAM has relationship, then this needs to be decided by the
- The network formation stage is crucial been running, Oxfam, through the global programme network itself and formalized clearly as a joint decision.
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for unit, has operated as a de facto secretariat for the
accountability right network, ensuring that regular communication is
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
maintained, and deliverables stipulated by the donor
- The network secretariat role is important and
agreement are completed. Nevertheless, an official
needs to be agreed upfront
decision for the global programme unit to take on this
Lessons learnt: Network development role was never made by the steering committee.
accountability and sustainability Recognition that a secretariat is needed, and the
- Networks need time to evolve
choice of who acts as a secretariat is a key decision
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
and should not be assumed. If the managing entity for
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation a funded project is also the de facto secretariat, this
of women, different ethnic groups and can lead to certain tensions. They are two entirely
geographic regions different roles: one is treasurer and the other is
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network chairperson and they should not be merged if the
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) network is to be autonomous and sustainable. The
of funding
management of a funding relationship is not
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in necessarily conducive to a role in network building or
Ekaterina Konstantinova, 76, selling cranberries at the edge of the road
networks leading advocacy. These are very different functions. outside Ostashkov market, Russia. Photo: Geoff Sayer
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Lessons learnt: Network concern. However, with the pressure of external
funding and the drive to show constant results,
Introduction development accountability tension can clearly occur. In ECSN BRICSAM, the rhythm
Key achievements
and sustainability of the deliverable outcome set out in the proposal and
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South Networks need time to evolve the timelines presented to the donor were, in
- Deepening understanding of inequality Networks are complex and they need time to develop. hindsight, too ambitious. Specific activities, resources
- Joint advocacy achieving change and sufficient time allocated to network development
True networks are not linear processes. There will be
- Building links from local to global levels
times when networks have intense activity, and there to ensure strong communication and decision making
Lessons learnt: Network management: will be other times when members will retreat to their processes for the network would be helpful to
Oxfams role: own individual agendas. This should not be cause for consider, particularly for a complex, cross-country
- The network formation stage is crucial network of networks like this one.
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
accountability right There should be clarity on the networks main
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital function
- The network secretariat role is important and
Achieving a clear understanding of the networks
needs to be agreed upfront
functions is imperative. Within ECSN BRICSAM, the
Lessons learnt: Network development overall focus was clearly to build a cross-country
accountability and sustainability network for advocacy in global forums, and as such to
- Networks need time to evolve amplify the voices of the constituencies of each of the
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
seven national partner networks. Oxfam attempted to
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation strengthen the network as a community of practice for
of women, different ethnic groups and learning. However, the value of such attempts was
geographic regions limited, as it was clear that the main focus for network
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network representatives remained the global advocacy
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) engagement. Such attempts for learning need to be
of funding
closely tied to the central aim of the network;
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in otherwise there is a risk that the true function of the
networks network becomes unclear.
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Efforts should be made to ensure


representation of women, different ethnic
Introduction
groups and geographic regions
Key achievements It is important to build in opportunities for network
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South members, particularly member organizations
- Deepening understanding of inequality
representing women, different ethnic groups and
- Joint advocacy achieving change
different geographic regions, to take part in as many
- Building links from local to global levels
of the networks activities as possible in a meaningful
Lessons learnt: Network management: way. Even though in ECSN BRICSAM, partner networks
Oxfams role: generally had considerable national outreach in their
- The network formation stage is crucial own contexts, the question as to how representative
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
of women, different ethnic groups and different
accountability right
regions they are is complex. Many have members who
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and represent such groups, but in practice these groups
Aruk village, Indonesia. Mr Alexander, 36, and family. Alexander lost his
needs to be agreed upfront may not be highly engaged with network activities, or 10-acre plot last year to a palm oil company. Photo: Tom Greenwood
represented in the networks leadership or secretariat.
Lessons learnt: Network development Effective communication and consultation with such consultation processes appear to have been able to
accountability and sustainability
groups is sometimes lacking. The need for resources encourage more active participation from a broader
- Networks need time to evolve
- T here should be clarity on the networks main to strengthen internal communication and encourage set of network members. This is not just about
function active participation from a broader range of network participating in activities, but actually being
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation members, particularly those representing marginalized supported through a longer-term capacity
of women, different ethnic groups and groups, must be considered a key priority in work to development process so that they are actually well
geographic regions support civil society networks. This needs to be placed to take on leadership roles within the network
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network balanced with ensuring the best person for leadership in a meaningful way. Another limiting factor, specific
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
and advocacy roles is selected, to avoid tokenistic to international engagement, is language. Members
of funding
gestures of participation from marginalized groups. who do not speak English are less likely to be willing
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in For example, those networks that earmarked funds for to travel to international meetings that are to be held
networks holding national assemblies and local-level in English, even if translation is provided.
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Sustainability should be decided by network clearly demonstrated an interest in continuing with
members, not simply by the availability (or the initiative, despite the imminent end in funding
Introduction
lack) of funding from the original donor. A test will be to see what
Key achievements A key factor in the long-term sustainability of a success there is in mobilizing further resources, not
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South network is clarity on the network function and a joint only from Oxfams side, but also from all network
- Deepening understanding of inequality agreement that the function is still required. Ultimately members involved. This need not only be funds. Simply
- Joint advocacy achieving change the sustainability of the networks needs to be defined a commitment to dedicate staff time to the network
- Building links from local to global levels
by the network members, not by the availability of activities is already a huge commitment and speaks
Lessons learnt: Network management: funding. For ECSN BRICSAM, the seven networks have well of the level of sustainability achieved.
Oxfams role:
- The network formation stage is crucial
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
accountability right
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and
needs to be agreed upfront

Lessons learnt: Network development


accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation
of women, different ethnic groups and
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding

Lessons learnt: The implications of working in


networks Photo: Oxfam India
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Lessons learnt: the implications out partners, potential partners and other members of
civil society networks in these same countries. This
Introduction of working in networks relates to the possibility of the new organisations
A common challenge facing INGOs which decentralise becoming integrated into national-level civil society
Key achievements
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South
and set up new national affiliates, as Oxfam is doing in networks, and participating as a national organisation
- Deepening understanding of inequality several BRICSAMIT countries, is how these new in national debates. A commitment to a networked
- Joint advocacy achieving change organisations can raise their own profile, and funds, as approach for new nationally registered organisations,
- Building links from local to global levels nationally registered organisations, without crowding for advocacy but even for fundraising, would hold
Lessons learnt: Network management:
Oxfams role:
- The network formation stage is crucial
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
accountability right
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
- The network secretariat role is important and
needs to be agreed upfront

Lessons learnt: Network development


accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve
- T here should be clarity on the networks main
function
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation
of women, different ethnic groups and
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding

Lessons learnt: The implications of working in


networks Children play around a waste water canal, Masephomolele township, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Zed Nelson
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN significant potential for these organisations to what working with others and within networks means:
establish themselves in a new kind of way in BRICSAMIT being prepared at some points to step back and let
Introduction
contexts, as equal members of civil society. others define the agenda and lead. This is a powerful
Key achievements move, and would bode well for Oxfams aspiration of
Another tension is in the approach to undertake
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South building a truly worldwide influencing network.
- Deepening understanding of inequality advocacy in itself. Within global forums, like the BRICS
- Joint advocacy achieving change and G20, Oxfam often adopts an insider approach in
- Building links from local to global levels that it prioritizes engagement in formal, invited spaces
for civil society within such spaces. On the other hand,
Lessons learnt: Network management:
within the ECSN partner networks there is strong
Oxfams role:
interest in also continuing to occupy outsider or
- The network formation stage is crucial
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for claimed spaces, such as independently organized
accountability right peoples forums, even if they have no direct channel
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital of dialogue with government representatives. This is
- The network secretariat role is important and particularly the case where there is suspicion about
needs to be agreed upfront the motives for the official spaces for participation
Lessons learnt: Network development for example the Civil BRICS process, which was largely
accountability and sustainability led by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or where
- Networks need time to evolve civil society organizations question the legitimacy of
- T here should be clarity on the networks main the global forum in itself as is the case for some of
function the network members in relation to the G20, which
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation they see as an informal and illegitimate grouping of
of women, different ethnic groups and
the worlds most powerful countries that ultimately
geographic regions
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network undermines other multilateral institutions that are
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) more inclusive and democratic, such as the UN.
of funding
As part of a broader civil society movement for change,
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in Oxfam needs to remain open to these other
networks approaches and political positions. This is a key part of Squatter camp, Cape Town city, South Africa. Photo: Zed Nelson
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN Notes


Introduction 1
 mpowering Civil Society Networks in an Unequal, Multi-Polar
E It includes countries with a medium human development
World is a programme currently funded by the European Union index and a low human development index.
Key achievements and Oxfam. The acronym ECSN BRICSAM is used in this 6
 RICS is an acronym for the informal grouping of Brazil,
B
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South document when referring to this programme. Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRIC, without South
- Deepening understanding of inequality 2
 writeshop is an intensive, participatory process that brings
A Africa, was originally coined in 2003 by Goldman Sachs, which
- Joint advocacy achieving change together experts and process facilitators under one roof to speculated that by 2050 these four economies would be the
- Building links from local to global levels produce simple, user-friendly materials in a short period of most powerful in the world. The inaugural BRIC summit took
time. place in Russia in 2009, which the four heads of government
Lessons learnt: Network management: from the BRIC countries attended. Annual leaders summits
3
 RICSAM refers to Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, South
B
have been held since. South Africa was added to the grouping
Oxfams role: Africa and Mexico. It is an acronym used by Oxfam that refers
in 2011, creating BRICS.
- The network formation stage is crucial to the group of emerging economies that are likely to become
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for increasingly important not only due to their growing economic
7
T he G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European
accountability right size, but also their political weight in multilateral institutions. Union, as well as representatives of the International
These seven countries are also home to the majority of people Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The finance ministers and
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital
living in poverty in the world around 2.5 billion people living central bank governors of these countries began meeting in
- The network secretariat role is important and
on less than $5 a day live in just these seven countries. Oxfam 1999 at the suggestion of the G7 finance ministers in
needs to be agreed upfront response to the global financial crisis of 199799. Since then,
also recognizes that this set of countries hosts diverse and
vibrant civil societies that have the potential to achieve there has been a finance ministerial meeting every autumn.
Lessons learnt: Network development Since 2008 the leaders of the G20 countries have also held an
change not just at their respective national levels, but also in
accountability and sustainability their regions and globally. Since the start of the ECSN BRICSAM annual summit.
- Networks need time to evolve programme, Turkey and Indonesia have been added to this 8
 ivil G20 is a meeting for policy dialogue between the political
C
- T here should be clarity on the networks main grouping within Oxfam, which is now referred to as the
leaders of the G20 countries and representatives of civil
function BRICSAMIT. In five of these countries Oxfam has an established
society organisations working on the issues related to the
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation presence through a national Oxfam affiliate.
agenda of the G20 Summit. The goal of the Civil G20 meeting is
of women, different ethnic groups and 4
 CSN: Empowering Civil Society Networks in an Unequal,
E to facilitate exchange of ideas and opinions about the agenda
geographic regions Multi-Polar World is a programme currently funded by the of the G20 Summit and discuss pertinent issues of relevance
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network European Union and Oxfam. The acronym ECSN BRICSAM is to civil society, with a view to making substantive
members, not simply by the availability (or lack) used in this document when referring to this programme. contributions to policy formulation based on the civil society
of funding assessment of the main agenda and issues of the G20
5
 hile the Global North is a term generally used to group the
W
Summit.
countries with a high human development index, the Global
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in South generally refers to the countries of the rest of the 9
 or example the BRICS New Development Bank and the Asian
F
networks world, most of which are located in the southern hemisphere. Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Lessons learned from supporting the development of a network
of networks for advocacy in the Global South
PARTNERING FOR IMPACT

BRICSAM and ECSN This case study was written by Thomas Dunmore Oxfam
Rodriguez. Oxfam acknowledges the assistance of Jan
Introduction Oxfam is an international confederation of 20
Bouwman, Helen Bunting, Mariano De Donatis, Audrey
organizations networked together in more than 90
Key achievements Lejeune, Steve Price-Thomas and Yo Winder in its
countries, as part of a global movement for change, to
- Leadership in Global Forums from the Global South production. It is part of a series of papers and reports
build a future free from the injustice of poverty. Please
- Deepening understanding of inequality written to inform public debate on development and
- Joint advocacy achieving change write to any of the agencies for further information, or
humanitarian policy issues.
- Building links from local to global levels visit www.oxfam.org.
For further information on the issues raised in this
Lessons learnt: Network management:
paper please email programme learning team at
Oxfams role:
- The network formation stage is crucial programmelearning@oxfam.org.uk
- The importance of getting internal mechanisms for
accountability right
This publication is copyright but the text may be used
- An autonomous space to set the agenda is vital free of charge for the purposes of advocacy,
- The network secretariat role is important and campaigning, education, and research, provided that
needs to be agreed upfront the source is acknowledged in full. The copyright
holder requests that all such use be registered with
Lessons learnt: Network development
them for impact assessment purposes. For copying in
accountability and sustainability
- Networks need time to evolve any other circumstances, or for re-use in other
- T here should be clarity on the networks main publications, or for translation or adaptation,
function permission must be secured and a fee may be
-E
 fforts should be made to ensure representation charged. Email policyandpractice@oxfam.org.uk.
of women, different ethnic groups and
geographic regions The information in this publication is correct at the
-S
 ustainability should be decided by network time of going to press.
members, not simply by the availability (or lack)
of funding Published by Oxfam GB under ISBN 978-0-85598-710-7
in May 2016. Oxfam GB, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive,
Lessons learnt: The implications of working in
networks Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK.