Community Advocacy for sustainable development

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Original Message

From: Philipp Grunewald, posted on 2014/02/28

Dear all,

It is time to turn towards the next focused discussion on the future of our beloved KM4Dev community.

We are all very good at outlining the challenges we face in our work, how much we disagree with how things are done in the development sector and how much of a pain it is to us, that we still have to justify the need for KM and learning in the context of development. We complain how little funding there is for such work and how often our M&E exercises lead to reports that either are not written with learning as an objective or never read again by people that maybe should have. Many of those problems and challenges originate outside of our spheres of influence when we act individually. We have to come together and change the “landscape of practice” we are part of.

There are at least two reasons why that is important:

  1. For our own sake: If we want our work to become more relevant, if we want more people to listen to us, if we want more funding for core functions like KM, if we want an environment that is receptive and supportive of the contributions Knowledge (management) for development can make then we have to take things into our own hands. We have to advocate for KM4Dev.
  2. For everyone’s sake: John says that “It is about time KM4Dev became more altruistic by taking on more complex issues in the interest of global development generally.” Sustainable development will not happen if we do not learn from past lessons, it will not happen if we do not champion human capacity, it will not happen by the people that are supposed to know about this stuff sitting quietly in a corner.

John Akude, in his study ‘Towards greater Advocacy’ (pdf) funded by the IFAD synthesis project, states that “in order to fully realize the potentials of K4D, it would be necessary to have an advocacy group promoting the relevance of its application. Due to the overarching position of KM4Dev, it somehow appeared natural to me that promoting K4D would be one of assignments of KM4Dev”. He goes on stating that he “was slightly shocked to hear … that this is not on the KM4Dev agenda”.

In that spirit, the first question I would like to ask you is:

''SHOULD KM4Dev take an advocacy stance? Why or why not?''

Looking forward to your thoughts and contributions!!!

Best wishes, Philipp


All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Martina Hetzel
Sophie Alvarez
Pete Cranston
Jaap Pels
Philipp Grunewald

Related Discussions


In this discussion some members of the community tried to tackle the question(s) outlined above. The first question about "should KM4Dev engage in advocacy" triggered very little interest on the mailing list. Jaap and Pete had some initial thoughts about how this could fit with the overall purpose of the community but engagement was low. To shift the focus slightly Philipp took a provocative stands and suggested that the "silence" of the community was to be interpreted as a negative repsonse to the question. He proposed that the community was unable to take an advocay stance due to the diversity of opinions, interests and viewpoints represented in the community. Sophie suggested that diversity and advocacy are not mutually exclusive and that the community could do theoetically. Martina went further than that and suggested that KM4Dev should do advocacy to progress certain ideals not only at the micro (and maybe meso) level(s) but also at the macro (policy) level.

Detailed Description

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Examples in Application

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