How can poor people's voices be heard and represented in global decision-making? How can horizontal linkages be fostered among poor people's organizations to support capacity building, knowledge and information exchange? How can global knowledge, resources and power support poor people's social and economic entrepreneurship at the local level? How can foundations, the private sector, venture capitalists, and international organizations support local to global connectivity and entrepreneurship?
Many decisions which affect the lives of poor men and women are not made at the local level but at the national, regional and global levels. Yet poor people have few opportunities to inform such debates, especially at the global level.
This website is dedicated to supporting the advancement of coalitions, both horizontal and vertical, that aim to create spaces in international fora for the voices and priorities of poor people. A series of working meetings have been convened to strategize and brainstorm about how we can best support connections between poor people's grassroots networks and global dialogues and decision-making.
One of the most striking findings coming out of Voices of the Poor is the disconnect between global decisions, macropolicies, and local people's priorities. While global policy networks are increasingly multi-sectoral - public, private and civic -- poor people still lack access and voice during macrolevel policy debates. There are no mechanisms for poor or disenfranchised people to participate and inform global programs and policies. The voices of the poor are calling for the creation of new local-global links so that local people and their own organizations can influence development. The poor want to move from being decision takers to being decision makers.
Local-global links require the establishment of channels by which information on local priorities and needs can flow up while technical assistance and resources flow down. Agents and intermediaries need to be identified to carry information to and from grassroots membership-based organizations and senior policy makers in government, private sector, NGOs, and multilaterals.
Can we conceive of and implement networks and intermediaries which will enable the voices of the poor to be heard at various decision-making levels?
What is happening already on the governance agenda among other donors, CBO networks? How can we effectively build upon on-going efforts to inform global decision-making with local priorities and experiences?
What is the role of the World Bank? How can the Bank help to establish a system of direct and honest communication between macro-level decision-makers and micro-level actors with intermediaries playing some role?
Today there are new opportunities and modalities that can help poor people connect globally, as well as within and among their communities to better address their needs and various options for solutions. The Global Coalitions for Voices of the Poor workshops found that there are three critical gaps dividing the rich and the poor at various levels:
knowledge and ideas;
resources and finances.
Poor people know best their problems and priorities. Despite their limited power, they exercise leadership and organize to overcome their problems, and these initiatives sometimes give rise to social movements for change. Moreover, the poor have valuable resources and assets. But the knowledge, ideas, options, leadership, and resources at the local level are not connected - either to those of other poor people or to the larger global community. And the knowledge, ideas and resources available at the global level cannot reach or connect with the struggles of poor people. The challenge is to try to close these gaps so that poor people's knowledge, ideas, and leadership inform global decision-making, and at the same time global resources and knowledge support poor people's initiatives at the local level.
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