Spring Inspiration: Exploring Risk, Accountability, and Radical Collaboration

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“Open your heart because everything will change” (2023) by Frieda Toranzo Jaegar. Modern Art Oxford. Photo by R. Clay.

Oxford in spring is a melting pot of ideas and fresh perspectives. I am feeling re-energised after recent encounters and sessions at Skoll World Forum and Marmalade and find myself reflecting on the abundance of ideas and insights from so many amazing people. Here are some key takeaways that have left a lasting impression: 

  1. Understanding risk could build foundations of strong partnerships. The Risk Pool Fund highlighted: “Funders can under-estimate those obstacles they cannot see for themselves.” Building trust and transparency is essential if partners are to jointly understand the taxonomy of risk they face in their partnerships and if they are to meaningfully assess and manage the real risks. 
  1. Impact investing in system change is developing. There is some great thinking going into impact investment at the system change level and the kind of ‘system health’ indicators we will need – meaningful indicators of the shifts in the system. For example, attitudes to driving cars as an indication of a shift in urban transportation. 
  1. Lessons on scaling with government from practitioners highlights the importance of political will. That means you need technical partnerships, but also to build champions and support the mindset shift to partnership working. I loved the Spring Impact message that “you need to fall in love with the problem, not the solution”, to support co-design between partners. 
  1. Accountability mechanisms are essential to ensure justice for communities affected by impact investments. I was heartened by the work of the Accountability Counsel and aware that many more communities need support.  The Environmental Justice Atlas (EJ Atlas) is another initiative that documenting an incredible volume of social conflicts around environmental issues worldwide. 
  1. Radical collaboration is needed to match the scale of global challenges we face – that’s going to take commitment to Public, Private, Philanthropic Partnerships, but also creative ways to connect grassroots to this large-scale approach.  See also our latest blog post for more reflections on radical collaboration.  

Additionally, I’d like to spotlight a few more inspiring initiatives and resources: 

Amidst the wealth of inspiration, I also took time out to be inspired by the “Frieda Toranzo Jaegar: A future in the light of darkness” exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. This piece above is called: “Open your heart because everything will change” (2023). 

By Rachael Clay