This is a selection of work over the last fifteen years, where I’ve helped clients with particularly difficult or interesting challenges.
The products are usually internal, but where they are available I have linked them. If you’re interested to discuss how these approaches might be relevant to your circumstances, please do get in touch.
Re-thinking how humanitarians should engage with a changing landscape of armed conflict
We are in the midst of a twenty-year high in the frequency and duration of conflict, and the level of forced displacement. This poses enormous challenges for humanitarian organisations, with rapidly shifting expectations from both the communities they serve and traditional financial partners.
This work put the evolving evidence base for peace-building initiatives alongside a diagnostic of the agency’s comparative advantages. The goal was to identify strategically sound pivots for global programming, going into the next five-year strategy, as well as possible “10x” changes to make a more radical contribution.
A second phase of work mapped out feasibility in detail, including country use-cases, operational implications, risks, and how to pilot.
(International Rescue Committee, 2018-19
Making UN peace operations more “people-focused”
Sustainable peacebuilding must be inclusive, and not dominated by a small elite. But that isn’t easy in the tough political and security environments that characterise modern peacekeeping.
This project identified practical measures to improve the responsiveness of peace operations to regular peoples’ needs, fears, and ambitions, and produced the first-ever policy guidance on community engagement.
A key feature was a one-year “pilot” in the Central African Republic, looking at communication, consultation and priority-setting in field offices across the country.
(UN Secretariat / UN Stabilisation Mission in C.A.R., 2015-18)
Effective implementation of Recovery & Peacebuilding Assessments
Why do some strategic frameworks get implemented, and others just remain on paper?
This project looked at collaboration between the World Bank, UN and EU, across a dozen countries and nearly twenty years.
The aim was to map out “what worked” for steering and operational coordination; monitoring and tracking results; and organising funding streams. This informed practical policy guidance for the in-country teams charged with implementing RPBAs.
(World Bank, European Union, UN system, 2016-17)
Creating dialogue and reflective learning amongst practitioners
How can we revitalise the policy conversation on fragile and conflict-affected places, and ensure that is based on ground truth?
The Rethink Fragility podcast is a long-form oral history project, involving one hundred practitioners from a range of different disciplinary perspectives.
This was preceded by a series of in-person reflection events (the London Conflict / Fragility group), and pilots with wiki and community-of-practice tools.
(Rethink Fragility, 2015-)
Targeted capacity-building for M&E
- Advice on how to adapt M&E tools to a fluid political situation and tough operating environment in eastern Congo (Integrity / WYG)
- Ensuring that M&E tools are “fit for purpose” in the highly specific stakeholder landscape of UN peace operations. (Saferworld / SIDA)
- Review and re-working of first-phase metrics for "stabilisation", to reflect lessons learned from other countries. (UNDP / MONUC)
Making decisions faster and smarter at the peak of the UN system
The UN family is notoriously complicated. This advisory project helped clarify decision processes at the inter-departmental level.
The goal was address well-known structural challenges, including overall speed and responsiveness, connections between political and development work, and the mainstreaming of human rights.
The products fed into changed internal management processes; SOPs and tools for policy-planning; and medium-term planning to strengthen capacities.
(UN Office of the Secretary-General, 2015-16)
Benchmarking the "draw-down" from protracted refugee crises
Scaling back support for vulnerable populations is never straightforward, but it must be done if we want to meet emerging challenges.
This engagement was to develop workable metrics for when and how UNHCR should scale back its involvement with protracted refugee situations, with “pilot" work in eastern Sudan.
The diagnostic mapped out needed changes to strategic planning processes; performance standards and evaluation; relationships with stakeholders and donors; and human resources.
Planning transitions from humanitarian to development assistance
Linking humanitarian and development actors is never easy. Expectations are different; systems are often incompatible; and there are very different sets of stakeholders.
This project developed common planning and M&E frameworks, that could be used to jointly guide the shift in responsibilities.
The scope included both the design of global-level initiatives for strengthened collaboration, and practical support to initiatives in Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Zambia.
(UNHCR / UNDP, 2013-14)
Enhancing the effectiveness of "strategic review" processes
The UN Secretariat is charged with delivering independent advice to the Security Council. But the complexity of current crises, and stakeholder politics, rarely allows for easy answers.
This engagement was to provide practical help on how to approach the task. It looked back at a decade of strategic and technical assessments for countries on the agenda of the Security Council, and identified better practices that could be built upon.
The outputs included a policy toolkit for practitioners, and re-design of several key processes to make assessments more consistent, more inclusive, and to make best use of available expertise.
(UN Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, 2012)
Managing a robust, inter-agency M&E system for “stabilisation"
Eastern DR Congo hosts dozens of organisations involved with security, peacebuilding, and the strengthening of state authority, and as many financial contributors again.
This was a long-term role to develop and manage shared processes for information-sharing, measurement of overall outcomes, and integrated reporting.
The end-goal was to support steering mechanisms at the political level with a fully integrated, usable “dashboard” of efforts on the ground and overall trends.
(UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, 2009-11)
Real-time learning for initiatives to “integrate” the UN system
There is often a wide gap between policy intent and reality on the ground. This project was about engagement with field staff to map out how early guidance on “integration” was playing out in four key cases: Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Timor-Leste, and Haiti.
The products identified constraints and opportunities for short-term action within existing resources, and contributed to a substantially revised approach in the second generation of policy guidance.
(Harvard Kennedy School / UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, 2008-09)
Participatory M&E for community-level stabilisation initiatives
The 2002-07 period in Sri Lanka was marked by an uneasy ceasefire, and high levels of violence and repression on all sides.
This role was about finding opportunities for community-level initiatives to reduce tensions, facilitate early recovery where possible, and complement the ongoing political process.
Outcomes included common risk assessments to adjust approaches for a deteriorating security situation; and community-driven M&E tools across four participating UN agencies.
(AusAID / UNICEF, 2005-07)
Integrating risk management into decision-making processes
How can staff be helped to recognise and manage risks that are outside of their normal expertise?
In this role I led development of decision-support systems for large corporate clients. These ensured that the right questions were asked, at the right time, and with easy access to supporting expertise.
(LOTJ Pty Limited, 2002-04)
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