I got an opportunity to attend the #ShiftThePower Summit held in Bogota, Colombia in December 2023. This blog highlights the most interesting experiences during and beyond the summit that helped me gain diverse perspectives, especially on how trust can shift power.

The summit was very different from the other conferences I have attended until now. The summit made sure to give the local (Colombian) touch, which is often absent in international conferences. We had stalls to try Colombian fruits, juices, and coffee, and even learn basic Spanish words. To add to the flavor, there were more open and insightful conversations on the role of communities in forming more equitable and dignified development. The majority of the discussions led to one primary conclusion i.e., it is important to build trust between diverse actors that play a role in finding solutions to global challenges. It included trust between government and citizens, trust between different activists and their organizations, between aid providers and CSO leaders, CSO leaders and communities, and more. In the paragraphs below, I highlight some cases where trust was noted as an important factor for inclusive and fair development.

  1. Development during crisis and war: One of the most thought-provoking remarks that I heard during the Summit was from Soheir Assad, Rawa Creative Palestinian Communities Fund, who said, “Instead of an immediate ceasefire, the government is focused on humanitarian aid in Palestine.” She mentioned that the citizens are losing their trust in both the government and humanitarian aid system as they are not focusing on ending the root cause of the problem and are focused on addressing the damage the problem has created.
  1. Safe space over isolation: Altzimba Baltazar Macias, founder of two consulting firms Porbatio and Cometa in Mexico, shared that she is prioritizing staff wellbeing in her organization. She started a 4-day work week for her staff which led to a two-fold increase in income in just a year.
  1. Measuring transformation: Meiska Irena Pramudhita from Indonesia for Humanity a local grantmaking organization shared about “Pemakna” a model established by the organization that provides an alternative to current Monitoring and Evaluation methods. Coined in Indonesian grammar, Pemakna – a person who carries out the meaning of giving – emphasizes qualitative impact, allocating funds for intermediary steps toward genuine transformative change. Recognizing transformation may take up to 25 years, the model trusts communities’ narratives to define what change means to them, contrasting with prevalent models focusing on numerical metrics.
  1. Acknowledging privilege and shifting power: During the summit, we engaged in roleplay, assuming different roles as development actors. A key takeaway for me was the significance of shifting power not only within communities but also from our positions. Reflecting on how frequently we recognize and are willing to share our privilege is crucial.

Read the full article about shifting power by Soni Khanal at Alliance Magazine.