(The Humanitarian Social Network)
The other day Bonnie Koenig posted this over on her site, Going International:
She outlines five emerging trends in the aid and development world. They are:
- New international configurations and players (BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India, China) and beyond – Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, Turkey and Argentina).
- Increased focus on accountability and outcomes
- Virtual connectedness
- Changing demographics – the baby boomers who took NGOs and their support organizations to a new level are now feeling the influence of a younger generation less focused on labels and structure.
- The social entrepreneur movement is now over 3 decades old and is influencing discussions about structure and outcomes.
I'd see the first and the last (international configurations like BRIC - or is it BRAC?, and the whole #socent ball of wax) as the most significant.
Because those are the two which have the greatest potential to significantly challenge and modify the current menage-a-trois status quo.
BRIC, BRAC, and all of the other more up-to-date acronyms that basically describe countries that used to be "developing" but now are "donor" countries challenge our assumptions and expectations around "beneficiaries." For the first time since the aid industry came into existence we have people who once were beneficiaries, now implementing aid programs. We're challenged both practically as well as paradigmatically by this emergent reality.
Social entrepreneurship and the so-called "movement" around it have the greatest potential to challenge and change realities around the relationship between aid providers and aid donors. Simple as that.
Whether on their own, or taken together, I'd see these two out of Bonnie's original list, once again, as being the most important if one is to think about those emerging trends with the greatest potential to significantly change the aid industry. They strike at the core, fundamental relationships which make the aid industry what it is.
Why not the other three? Briefly:
"Increased focus on accountability and outcomes" is needed. It is good. It makes aid better. It's sort of new. But it won't substantively change the nature of what aid is, in my view.
"Virtual connectedness" can change the "how" of aid/development in many ways. It can make some things more efficient. It can grant access to conversations that might otherwise be out of reach to some. As such, I'd see this one as having great potential to contribute to accountability, transparency and even some aspects of #socent. But I wouldn't see it driving fundamental structural changes or, again, by itself challenging the menage-a-trois.
"Changing demographics." Again, perhaps an enabler for some aspects of larger change. But not by itself a driver.