Partnerships for humanitarian aid and sustainable development have fast become the norm in the past 20 years – reinforced by the fact that one of the United Nations’ 17 Strategic Development Goals is ‘partnership’. It is increasingly clear that one key feature of this growth in partnering as a delivery mechanism is that many (perhaps most) partnerships operate largely or completely remotely.
What is ‘Remote’ Partnering?
We have defined this term as:
People from different organisations partnering to achieve a common purpose by undertaking pre-agreed activities on behalf of the partnership but having, for a range of different reasons, to operate long-distance rather than face-to-face.
Partnering long-distance is often positioned as a matter of necessity (for example: cost considerations, reducing carbon footprint or inaccessibility due to challenges in the local context) rather than choice. Remote-ness is often used as a major reason for partnerships falling short or even failing. But we are asking the question: Could remote partnering have advantages and opportunities that make it first choice and not ‘second best’?
The Remote Partnering Project was established two years ago by the Partnership Brokers Association working with a small group of founding partners to:
- Assess the situation (action research with front-line practitioners)
- Explore ideas for making remote partnering more innovative and successful (through a creativity lab) and
- Pilot a new on-line course for practitioners working remotely (successfully completed in April 2018 by 60 practitioners, most of whom are operating in remote and challenging contexts).
As a result of this work, we believe that it is possible to see remote partnering as an opportunity rather than a problem – if we can use the challenges as drivers for breakthrough thinking and innovative practice.
Our first output Current Status of Remote Partnering makes for very interesting reading and confirms our ‘hunch’ that this is a critically important area for exploration. For access to all our research and findings go to outputs.
A more recent product of this work is an online Tool Box developed in collaboration with the DEPP (Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme) and Action Against Hunger now available for practitioners worldwide on defyingdistance.org.
Our next publication The Remote Partnering Work Book – is a practical manual that builds on the accumulated knowledge, experiences and insights of partnership practitioners who are working remotely – is already seen as a key resource and is available here for free download.
Download: The Remote Partnering Work Book (pdf)
The pilot of our new on-line Remote Partnering Certificate – developed in collaboration with the Geneva Learning Foundation – was completed in April 2018. It was an exciting and innovative experiment with 70 partnership practitioners nominated by our 10 partner INGOs. Course participants produced their own peer reviewed Remote Partnering Action Plans and described the course as exciting, informative and confidence-building.
Building on this pilot experience, we have exciting new plans for a range of learning / training opportunities for individuals, partnerships and organisations designed to build capacity for remote partnering across the globe.
From a programme partner:
Our staff and partners have benefited from tools, guidance and support on remote partnering and this has led to enhanced effectiveness. It is also already contributing to global learning and good practice in remote partnering.
Making our findings available and accessible to those who need them most is central to this project. The founding partners are all ‘mission-driven’ and feel strongly that what we learn and produce must be put into the public domain in an open-source model – hence this website.
There is a real need to continuously train professionals in remote partnering skills for only when remote partnering works effectively and centrally will partners be able to truly walk together to attain sustainable development – otherwise it will remain an unachievable dream.
Remote Partnering Certificate Level 2 – extract from a participant’s journal
We warmly invite you to join this movement for change – contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW PAPER: New Research on Remote Partnering Realities with Local Partners in Syria
Kristina Delgado has conducted vital research on the realities of remote partnering with local partners in Syria and prepared an executive summary and case study for this website outputs.