But how can the Australian development and humanitarian sector can drive a broad movement for change through its advocacy and action, leadership and organisational structures?
The overall theme of ACFID National Conference this year is Transformational Change and Development – an exploration of how the Australian Development and humanitarian sector can better understand, and drive, transformational change. In doing so, we will focus on three domains of change:
- Engage – Action and Advocacy for Change
- Create – Transformational Organisations for Change
- Lead – Transformational Leadership for Sustainable Development.
The Conference will be about enabling an understanding of, and connection to, social movements driving significant change, here and abroad; surfacing and sharing good practice against these domains of change; re-engaging with concepts of thinking and working politically, particularly from an activist/advocacy perspective; and also, thinking about what we need to do now, to make change happen – providing a platform for Conference participants to commit and take action.
Why transformational change?
Transformational change is not merely a goal – it is a way of working for a better world. It recognises that complex social problems are not discrete and easily defined, but exist within broader systems that, unchecked, perpetuate inequality, marginalisation, and environmental degradation. It works for change which is embedded and sustainable, prioritising interventions that will create lasting impact beyond the life of any one project. It recognises that change is not a linear process, and requires constant iteration and adaptation to factors outside of our control. It requires us to work together to achieve more than we ever could alone.
The challenges facing the world today are not simple; they are linked together in complex webs connecting people, economies, and the environment. These problems are resistant to simple solutions, instead requiring us to go beyond business as usual and find new ways of working. The Sustainable Development Goals recognise this complexity, but instead of suggesting we look for easy solutions, they make a powerful call for us to reach those furthest behind, first, and leave no one behind. Now is the time for development actors to consider what it is that we need to do now, in order to be working for a transformative future.
Transformational change poses significant conceptual and practical challenges. Rapid and significant transformations are needed across social and environmental domains to address contemporary challenges such as from climate change, threats to human and ecosystem health, wider systemic issues such as growing inequalities, the rise of middle income countries, the threats of extreme political and religious ideologies, and more. All of these challenges pose significant questions about what it means to transform or to have been transformed, who or what is the focus of transformation, what this means in practice, and how it can be achieved from a systemic, integrated approach.
At ACFID Conference 2017 we will interrogate the meaning and nature of transformational change, hear from early adopters with practical, real world examples, and consider what we might do to engage, create, and lead a world where transformational change for sustainable development might become the norm… Register now for what will be a stimulating, challenging and exciting two days!