Hivos International

Thick Problems and Thin Solutions: How NGOs Can Bridge the Gap

Imagine life in a low-carbon community that delivers jobs, justice and human flourishing, all within the ecological limits of a finite planet. It’s an attractive proposition, but to get there we’ll have to transform our societies, politics and cultures in order to prosper together in an inter-locking web of steady-state economies. Eventually that will mean lowering our consumption (not just adding in more energy efficiency), as well as sharing work, resources and responsibilities with each-other, managing the conflicts that arise from scarcity and the turmoil that comes with change, and accomplishing a thousand other things for which we are completely unprepared. If the values and visions of agencies like Hivos are going to mean anything in the future – whether expressed in terms of ‘development’, social change or human happiness and fulfillment – then we had better start preparing for these transformations now.

This paper was commisioned by Hivos in the Netherlands, and it led to a much wider debate in the Broker magazine on the future of NGOs in international development.