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Civil Society: Expert Partners

i Jul 14th No Comments by

RWM are experts in packaging nuclear waste, but have no experience in creating local democratic institutions. As RWM explore how to engage constructively with communities, there is a wealth of expertise, and a huge amount already going on, in the civil society sector.

In a consent-based local democratic decision-making process which requires the active participation of the community, there seems to be no reason for RWM not to engage in a more collaborative way with the civil society sector. The sector’s expertise and activities can help flesh out the barebone principles of the ‘Working With Communities’ policy.

What that collaboration looks like remains to be discussed, but the kinds of areas where civil society organisations can play an important role can be easily seen in a high-level overview of announcements and activities from just the past 4-6 weeks. The following list is far from comprehensive. It is simply provided to stimulate ideas, raise mutual awareness, and encourage further discussion.

  • The organisation formerly known as the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) have launched a new initiative called ‘Impact Partnerships’. NESTA wants to go beyond traditional methods of partnership working, to create processes which help find solutions to problems, rather than partnerships simply becoming ‘talking shops’. Impact Partnerships should clearly set out the steps for partnerships to take decisions and make their actions sustainable – this approach is central to the proposed work and ‘culture’ of the proposed GDF Community Partnerships.
  • Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) recently held a Community Wealth Building Summit and launched a Community Wealth Building Centre of Excellence. Given the emphasis in the GDF siting policy on supporting communities to develop and deliver a long-term vision for their community, the network which CLES drives could be an invaluable resource for RWM, while the funding behind the GDF siting process may help CLES deliver its ambitions.
  • For example, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance has just published a Report looking at how place-based funding streams can be designed to empower the communities deemed most ‘left behind’ by the economic system. The report offers a set of principles for designing really impactful and long-lasting funding programmes, which have community control at their heart — completely relevant to how a GDF community might approach sustainable community investment from the funds the siting process will provide.
  • Power To Change & IPPR North argue that ‘Stronger Towns Fund’, despite its imperfections and limitations creates an opportunity to build on lessons learned from previous projects, and to trial and evaluate new models for creating local wealth and well-being. They set out 5 principles of success, all of which are core to GDF policy and will underpin a successful GDF Community Partnership — Locally-led and locally owned, Flexible & open-ended, Integrated into wider economic strategies, Open to experimentation & knowledge sharing, Concerned with long-term legacy from the outset.
  • Participedia offer some very thoughtful academic analysis of how to improve two-way dialogue and support impactful deliberative community discussion and participation. Their insights play to the core of how a GDF Community Partnership might operate.
  • Centre for Public Impact believe that for communities to thrive, they need to be given the tools and resources to find solutions that work for them and for the places where they live. This however, requires changes in public attitudes and behaviours, and a project in Gloucester is presented as a case study in such change.

This is but a snapshot. GDFWatch has previously profiled a wide range of organisations and their work, and how the GDF siting process would not only benefit from these organisation’s input, but that the siting process might also actually help deliver these organisation’s wider ambitions, eg:

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