Hivos International

Pluralism and diversity are essential ingredients of a dynamic society. Yet, ingrained values, acquired privileges and established power structures often limit the acceptance people have for different values, identities and religions. In too many places around the world, people are faced with intolerance. Where belief or value systems become absolute - leaving no room for alternative interpretations - and are imposed on others, we speak of 'fundamentalism'. Fundamentalism threatens the peaceful co-existence of people belonging to different ethnic, social, religious or cultural groups. Particularly women, gay and lesbian people and people living with HIV/Aids are the first victims of fundamentalism.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a growth of intolerance, often manifested as fundamentalisms rooted in religion, ethnic affiliation, nationalism, social class and gender. In order to understand these threats to pluralism, Hivos has commissioned research on intolerance of differences across a wide range of communities worldwide. Civil society actors in particular play a crucial role in organising resistance against fundamentalist acts and opening up spaces for pluralism. This dossier departs from the daily realities of civil society actors and takes their experiences, questions and dilemmas as its foundation. Their experiences shed new light on how fundamentalism invades the work of civil society organisations and point to concrete initiatives that best promote pluralism - or fail - in development practice.

The dossier also provides the latest thinking around pluralism and democracy, one of Hivos’ core values. It deepens our understanding of the complexities of our times, such as resurgent nationalisms, the role of religion in societies and how morality can impede public spaces. It also shows how global and local dynamics inform the development of various expressions of fundamentalisms and intolerances. In addition, practical tools are offered for discussing the notion of pluralism with colleagues, fellow citizens and others.


Other Knowledge Dossiers

Citizen Action

Citizens are central actors in public and political arenas. Their ability to hold governments to account and to participate fully in democratic processes is contingent upon the opportunities to freely assemble, associate and express opinions. Around the globe citizens are claiming their rights, rising up to injustices occurring and proposing alternatives. They use “old” methods of social movements and “new” instruments such as social media. Increasingly citizens are also reaching out to a global constituency; think of Occupy, the protests against Monsanto and TTIP.

Gender and Sexual Rights

In the field of Gender and Sexual Rights, Hivos has a long and remarkable history.  We were one of the first organisations that campaigned for sexual rights, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs), but also men who have sex with men (MSM) without considering themselves to be homosexual. In the field of women’s rights, we have been supporting women all over the world to organise themselves and become a countervailing power in their societies. In both domains, we seek new ways to bring about change in people’s mindsets.

Green and Inclusive Energy

Climate change and sustainable energy production are high on the political agenda. However, public debate generally focuses on how the use of fossil fuels can be reduced. Much less attention is given to the lack of energy access for people living in developing countries. Remarkably, the solution to both issues is the same: renewable energy. In its projects, Hivos aims to demonstrate that green and inclusive energy is not a pipe dream or an alternative, but simply the best choice. Our research informs our stance in the debate and reflects on our projects in the field.

Methods of Change

Understanding how change happens is crucial to increase the effectiveness of development interventions. Our thematic Knowledge Dossiers show how Hivos thinks change can happen in specific areas. This dossier showcases the methodologies that can help us become more effective change agents.

Sustainable Food and Biodiversity

Hivos has a long history of working on food, agriculture and biodiversity. Our approach pays attention to soil fertility, agricultural biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, green knowledge development, a decent living for farmers, and gender inclusiveness. Research has and continues to underpin many of our projects in the field.

Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa

Since the outbreak of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011, the region is undergoing tectonic shifts. The pace, quality and quantity of political and social changes are unprecedented. In short, the MENA region is the scene of historic revolutions and counter-revolutions. In such a rapidly changing context, conventional wisdom about static societies and states in the MENA do not make sense and are out of context. There is no shortage of knowledge produced in the West about MENA.