Developing Tools for Leadership in Fiji

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by Adel Briones

SUVA, FIJI - Seventeen participants from various Fijian civil society organizations participated in the "Tool Development Workshop on Participatory Governance and Leadership" on 22-27 June 2013 in The Pearl Resort Hotel in Suva, Fiji. The two-day activity was co-facilitated by Adelfo V. Briones and Kristina Marie Aquino, both ANSA-EAP staff.

The workshop’s goal was to contribute to the development and formation of a “Participatory Governance and Leadership Toolkit”, which is envisioned to enhance the capacities of South Pacific community leaders to implement effective change from community to national policy levels. The activity, sponsored by the Foundation of the Peoples of South Pacific International’s (FSPI) in partnership with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP), was expected a) to gather primary data and on-the-ground information about the local context, specifically in the area of participatory governance and the practice of leadership; and b) to test and validate tools that enhance leadership competencies in the context of participatory governance.

The learning event was a follow-up to the “Accountable Leadership in Advancing Participatory Governance” workshop held on 14-15 November 2012 in Nadi, Fiji, and was an opportunity for ANSA-EAP to establish and enhance partnerships among countries in the South Pacific.

Workshop Highlights

Formulation of a working description of “participatory governance”, which the participants described as “provid[ing] safe spaces for equal, inclusive and accountable decision-making processes to achieve mutually intended outcomes”. The process of coming up with this description was inductive and iterative, generated through a sharing of personal and concrete experiences, supplemented with conceptual input. The description provided the context for the discussions and was used as the platform to identify and determine issues and concerns related to participatory governance and leadership.

Application and assessment of two participatory/leadership tools: a) a modified Open Space Technique, and b) the Netmapping Tool. The Open Space Technique allowed the participants to experience a participatory process of self-organization, where groups are formed based on issues that each individual deems important to him/her (as opposed to groupings being assigned). The Netmapping Tool helped the participants describe and analyze, in a participatory manner, the networks and links between stakeholders, their interests, and the degree of influence each one has on a specific issue. Netmapping can be utilized in strategic planning, especially in prioritizing communication interventions. Both tools were regarded as relevant and useful to the current development context in Fiji.

The “Three Domains of Social Relationship and Influence” (Kabini Sanga, 2008) as a framework for understanding leadership practices in Fiji. The framework identified three domains of social relationship and influence in most of Pacific countries: a) Pacific cultures and systems; b) the church/religious system; and c) the formalized, institutionalized modern systems. Each system was analyzed in terms of value system, key actors, main features, structure, and decision-making.

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