Embracing Radical Collaboration in 2024: Reflecting on ECOBARI’s Journey and Future Initiatives

~ by Arjuna Srinidhi, National Anchor, ECOBARI

In a recently published article titled “Radical collaboration to transform social systems: moving forward with love, power and justice”, Adam Kahane, a notable author and facilitator, explores the concept of radical collaboration. This approach involves working with diverse stakeholders to fundamentally transform, rather than superficially reform, a system, with a focus on speed, scale, and justice. It goes beyond conventional collaboration by embracing conflict, experimenting with solutions, and acknowledging individual roles within the system.

It was perhaps fortuitous that I came across this article at a time when I found myself reflecting deeply on the impact of our collaborative efforts, since our launch in 2021. Let’s highlight some of the achievements over the past two years before delving into areas that require improvement.

  • Conducted 6 webinars between Nov 2021 and Nov 2023, engaging over 1,000 participants. 
  • Collaborated in 3 partner-led events, including the SAGE fellowship program and the Building Resilience film screening. 
  • Hosted 3 in-person training events in collaboration with WOTR. 
  • Expanded membership from the original 10 to a current total of 22 members. 
  • Published 6 blogs, launched the ECOBARI website, and social media presence on Twitter.

Let us now reflect on what is the purpose with which we started ECOBARI. The outcome we aimed at was to upscale EbA for resilient incomes across India. This is an outcome that is of course time consuming and hard to gauge in just a couple of years. Towards this outcome, we were keen to be a leading platform that grounds EbA at scale through partnerships, policy enablement and resource provisioning. And towards this mission, we organized ourselves along three working groups for – i) platform development, ii) knowledge generation, and iii) principle development

Let us critically reflect on this mission:

  • The wide range of topics that our webinars have covered, the active participation that they have seen, along with the slow and steady increase in membership is certainly a sign of some reasonable progress along the ‘knowledge generation’ dimension and building awareness around EbA.
  • While WOTR, as secretariat and a member of ECOBARI, did organize a number of training programmes related to EbA, there is much more that can be done towards the ‘principle development’ dimension. To demonstrate “upscaling”, the trainings need to probably result in new demand-based trainings that also involve other ECOBARI members, or requests for new toolkits or package of practices for EbA implementation
  • Also, while all existing ECOBARI members are engaged in work that is broadly aligned with EbA, unless ECOBARI is able to give rise to new projects, partnerships and resource mobilization for new and collaborative EbA actions, I think we have to admit that a lot more needs to be done around ‘platform development’.

Where does this leave us? And what do we propose to do differently in 2024 to address these areas of improvement?

  • Founding Members Retreat: We are looking to kick start 2024 by organizing an off-site retreat for founding members in early 2024. We hope that this retreat will help foster further reflection and ideation for new initiatives from all involved in the initiating ECOBARI.
  • Member Engagement: We are keen to prioratise member engagement this year. We intend to get this going by creating spaces for interaction and collaborative actions through online and off-site events, sharing Stories of Resilience and Collaborative Action, EbA courses, and field visits.
  • Platform Development: We are also looking to expand ECOBARI’s scope of work to include new sectors such as media engagement, urban EbA issues, and collaboration with educational institutions. We would like our members to view ECOBARI as an experimental and fun space to help spur new ideas and radical collaborations. 

As we embark on a new year, let’s view ECOBARI not just as a ‘network’ that we all know about, but as a true collaborative effort that it was set up to be. Your inputs, feedback, and initiative can drive ‘radical’ collaborative action to upscale EbA across India and beyond. Wishing everyone a very happy 2024!

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