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What does a poverty alleviation charity like Oxfam and a global food corporate like Unilever have in common? They are both serious about smallholder farmers. More than 2 billion people depend on small farms for their livelihoods; the majority of them struggle with poverty and vulnerability. At the same time, these small farms represent an under-utilised source of food to meet a growing global demand. With investment in skills, knowledge, networks, and technology, small farms could hugely improve their productivity and environmental sustainability.

The idea of working together on smallholder supply chains was born when two senior managers from Oxfam and Unilever attended a learning journey in Honduras as part of the Sustainable Food Lab. In 2010, their collaboration was formalised as a joint project called “Sunrise”, and Azerbaijan was selected as the first country in which they would attempt to build a sustainable supply chain.

The Sunrise team formed a plan to source onion powder from marginalised farmers for use as an ingredient in Knorr brand soups and stocks. Implementation of this plan proved far more challenging than both Oxfam and Unilever had expected. Menka Sanghvi and Mia Eisenstadt from Reos Partners have researched the work done and produced a case study sharing key lessons from this ambitious undertaking.

August 2014 was a ripe period for conversations about the future of Indonesia. In July, the country had held a successful election that saw a new government come to power, which during its transition period was urgently exploring the country’s most important opportunities and challenges. One crucial domain was the country’s energy sector and the many national and international trends that would affect the country’s social, political, and economic evolution.

In this context of government institutions, energy companies, and communities facing an uncertain future, the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) invited 28 leaders from across the energy sector to participate in a strategic conversation about this situation, in which they are stakeholders, and the actions they might take to address the future of energy in Indonesia. The participants included representatives from state-owned enterprises, private companies, and civil society organisations including Greenpeace, along with researchers, politicians, and public servants. Shell Indonesia and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German foundation, provided resources for the project. The result is the Bandung Scenarios—four scenarios of possible futures of Indonesia’s energy system.

A year and a half ago, in June 2013, José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), presented a two-part “Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas” to the Foreign Ministers of all of the countries in the Americas at the OAS’s annual General Assembly. The first part was an Analytical Report about the past and present of this problem, and the second was a Scenario Report about possible futures.

The preparation of these reports had been mandated a year earlier by the Heads of State of these countries at their Summit of the Americas. The Summit’s host, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, had articulated the imperative for this work. He pointed out that the “war on drugs,” which his country and others in the hemisphere had been pursuing at enormous cost for 40 years, was not being won. In spite of progress in some areas, the problems of drugs had remained terribly and frustratingly stuck, with continued high levels of addiction, incarceration, and violence. “Sometimes we all feel that we have been pedalling on a stationary bicycle,” he said. “We look to our right and our left and we still see the same landscape.” At the conclusion of the Summit, he announced: “We, the region's leaders, held an invaluable discussion on the global drug problem. We agreed on the need to analyse the results of the current policy in the Americas and to explore new approaches to strengthen this struggle and to become more effective. We have issued the OAS a mandate to that end.”

If you had half a million pounds to experiment with creating projects to improve the mental health and personal resilience of children and young people aged 10-14 what would you do? Where would you begin? Who would you need to help you to make a systemic positive impact on young people’s lives? What daily or weekly activities would you propose children and young people undertake to avoid acquiring serious mental conditions and keep their minds healthy and strong?

We all know that we must brush our teeth daily to insure our long-term dental health and prevent tooth decay and both parents and schools (and dentists) pass this on to children, it is common knowledge. However, when it comes to our mental health, how to stay healthy and well in an increasingly complex world is more ambiguous. We are left to fend for ourselves. In general, our education systems do not teach children what they must do daily, or weekly to look after their long-term mental health and become more resilient to any adverse events they may face. Children may learn techniques or experience tools and ideas that may support them with their own mental well being and resilience at home, but this is in an ad-hoc manner and varies widely amongst families and communities. The Big Lottery Fund has developed an investment fund called HeadStart to give 12 regions of the UK precisely this opportunity: to support multi-stakeholder partnerships in developing new approaches to improve children’s and young people’s mental health and personal resilience.

“What I take is a deep appreciation for every voice in the room today…. It helps hold my passion in some way that there are other people who can genuinely speak with care about the longer-term outcome and vision for women and children. So much on general media is punitive and sexist and racist. Knowing there are other visions and sharing—that is what I leave with today.”
—Workshop Participant

Violence against women is an issue that permeates communities in many insidious ways. It includes family and domestic violence and sexual assault. It crosses socio-economic boundaries in every community and intersects with other complex social issues such as mental health, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and youth crime. Violence against women is a community issue, not just a women’s issue. In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the need to engage with perpetrators of violence against women. The thinking is that a proactive approach is necessary, one that goes to the source of the problem—the perpetrators of abuse—and that also involves working with young males in building responsible attitudes.

From the Toolkit

This exercise helps workshop participants share ideas about an issue. It invites input from 100% of participants and flattens power dynamics around who shares ideas in the group. The activity is also useful in supporting introverted thinkers (think first, then talk) to have more space to share their thoughts around extroverted thinkers (talk while formulating the thought). Thus, Flash Cards is a great antidote to discussing ideas in plenary, where the process favours the most powerful and extroverted participants’ styles.

How it works:

We often underestimate the power of walking and talking. Most of our meetings are sitting meetings. Have you ever thought about how sitting in the same chair throughout a workshop can contribute to our remaining rigid in our positions? How we sometimes feel stuck? By walking together, we can seek inspiration, connect with nature, allow for synchronicities, generate energy and focus, connect with our force of movement, and deepen our collective reflections.

Reos is a social enterprise that helps businesses, governments, and civil society organisations address complex social challenges.

We convene, design and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives on issues such as employment, health, food, energy, the environment, security, and peace.

Our approach is systemic, creative, and participative.

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Recent Press

Telling new stories enables us to create new futures. Political leaders in the Americas are beginning to tell new stories about the problems of illicit drugs, and this is enabling them to begin to find new and more effective ways to address these problems.

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