Why are we questioning the power of knowledge?
There is no denying the global development sector and the partnerships are shaped by the legacies of colonisation. To this date, the flow of funding, institutional structures and patterns of thinking are still colouring the flow of knowledge, and to an extent they perpetuate the legacies of a time that we are urgently trying to address. These unconscious biases often surface in intrinsic aspects of the sector like partnerships.
The flow of knowledge often defines the flow of power
Globally, several guidelines and frameworks have been developed that seek to promote equitable partnerships, e.g., concerning cross-boundary research collaborations or more general international collaborative partnerships. Over the past decades, and more recently triggered by global ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Decolonizing global health’, several scholars also provided guidelines, imperatives and suggestions for equality in international collaboration.
Questioning existing frameworks
KIT’s experience working on a wide variety of projects with numerous partners has also highlighted the need for more equitable partnerships. Those that are more collaborative or critical. For instance, KIT – sometimes in collaboration with other partners from the Global North – often takes the lead role, with southern organisations having the role of ‘beneficiaries’ or being sub-contractors to contribute to (part of) projects or programmes. Such a model of collaboration does not reflect equality, nor does it do justice to the essence for success, and the quality of Southern expertise.
Often, partly because of donor requirements, partnerships are based on resource transfer from the global north to the Global South and, therefore, can invariably result in donor-recipient behaviour. While Northern organizations may not intend to reproduce inequalities based on a colonial past, often, collaborations have been seen as unequal, paternalistic, or neo-colonial.
Changing the North-South paradigm
KIT’s partners are integral to its work. And we would like to work together on changing the existing north-south paradigm together. We would like to create a structure that brings partners together and where co-creation, shared values and mission, and a shared market are at the forefront.
The Power of Knowledge event plays a crucial role in this endeavour. Through this annual event, we will bring together representatives from national and international governments and policy organs, think-tanks, corporates, philanthropists, NGO practitioners and knowledge organisations from around the globe. We will gather these diverse actors and examine how the North-South paradigm shapes partnerships adversely and how we can effectively move away from this imbalanced structure towards more equitable partnerships.
While we do have possible directions on how KIT could move to more equitable partnerships in the future, we would like to hear from our partners on how we could harness the power of knowledge for a sustainable, inclusive and just world.