Report on the “Way Forward GFCE Working Groups” Session

Report | “Way Forward GFCE Working Groups” online session | 20 July 2020

The GFCE Working Groups kicked off in the spring of 2018. Almost 85% of the community is involved in the Working Groups in some way. In 2018, the GFCE Secretariat developed a Mandate and Responsibilities document to guide the Working Groups process. Since then the Working Groups have evolved; all five Working Groups in their own manner. After two years of the Working Groups, it was considered that now is a good time to review the Mandate and Responsibilities and to brainstorm on the next steps for the Working Groups and Task Forces with the community. Therefore, on Monday 20 July 2020, the GFCE organized an online interactive session on the Way Forward for the GFCE Working Groups.

The session started with a short presentation by David van Duren, Director of the GFCE Secretariat, who explained how the Working Groups started once the five themes were identified in the Delhi Communiqué in November 2017 and how the Working Groups have evolved as one of the core functions of the GFCE community. David also explained the aim of the session, which was to discuss challenges and ideas related to the Working Groups with the GFCE community through an interactive discussion and using the online tool Mentimeter.

The discussion was moderated by Manon van Tienhoven, Program Coordinator at the GFCE Secretariat. After a few introductory questions, the discussion focused on the challenges that the Working Groups and representatives face. These challenges can be summarized as:

The discussion then turned to how the Working Group structure can be improved, looking in particular at stronger engagement of the GFCE community and increasing output of the respective Working Groups. Suggestions on improvements included offering incentives for people to volunteer their (work) time,  to create more focused tasks and deliverables, assessing roles and perhaps adding positions in the Working Groups to improve cross-cutting synergies with other GFCE structures, as well as giving individuals more recognition for the work they do for the GFCE. These proposals were welcomed by the participants, though it was also considered essential for the GFCE to strive for simplicity in the way it is structured. Further complicating the GFCE structures could discourage Members and Partners’ involvement. The GFCE should therefore look at ways of improving the existing structures through informal means, or better explain how formal changes would benefit the Working Groups.

Another proposal is to have dedicated project teams within a Working Group or Task Force that focus on a specific deliverable as identified by the group in the Work Plan. There was positive response to this idea if the process is outcome-oriented, and the work is transparent and communicated back to the larger group.

Further, the participants agreed that there is more that can be done regarding the promotion of the Working Groups within and outside of the GFCE community. This could also increase the added value and recognition of GFCE deliverables.

Overall, the session was successful as nearly 50 participants actively discussed the way forward for the GFCE Working Groups. Although there is room for improvement, everybody agreed that there is added value in the GFCE Working Groups and Task Forces for the GFCE community as well as for the broader community.

Based on all the feedback in the interactive discussion and that was gathered in Mentimeter, the GFCE Secretariat will work over the coming weeks on drafting a revised Working Groups Mandate and Responsibilities and the Way Forward GFCE Working Groups 2020-2021 documents. These documents will be shared with the Chairs, Task Force leads and Advisory Board for their feedback and input, before presenting the drafts to the GFCE community.

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