Foundations and development organizations must do more to restore trust in government, regulatory authorities, and NGOs working to advance human well-being, the Bellagio Initiative's final report on the future of philanthropy and international development argues.
The report, Human Wellbeing in the 21st Century: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities (17 pages, PDF), is the culmination of a Rockefeller Foundation-funded global initiative led by the Institute of Development Studies and Resource Alliance to explore how philanthropic and development organizations can work together to better protect and promote human well-being. Based on findings from a series of meetings around the globe, commissioned papers, and a high-level summit, the report calls for less risk-averse approaches to development work as well as greater inclusivity, transparency, and accountability from those engaged in that work.
The report notes that in the wake of the global financial, food, and fuel crises of 2008-09, entities that should be promoting good governance are not seen to be doing so, while those agencies charged with regulating the global system are seen as ineffectual and/or untrustworthy. The report also suggests that philanthropic organizations are often viewed as being inhibited by narrow evaluation parameters, limited time horizons, and an aversion to failure.
To address these vulnerabilities, the report urges foundations and development agencies to work with people on the ground to build new models that are environmentally and politically sustainable; recognize the role of politics in development debates and philanthropy's role in advocacy; develop new human-centered indicators of development; invest in innovation; and involve and empower citizens in global development efforts, especially marginalized groups such as youth, women, and migrants.
"One clear message to come out of this global consultation is that communities no longer trust governments, aid agencies, charities, and regulators' abilities to promote better governance systems," said Allister McGregor, director of the Bellagio Initiative. "Trust is one of the most basic qualities on which solid relationships are founded, but it has been eroded in the wake of the global crises that emerged in 2008. The real well-being challenge for the twenty-first century is not just to find ways to live well, but for us to find ways to live well together."