Everyone wants to make an impact, but what if that impact made things worse?
Well-meaning NGOs the world over come to communities in the global South to make their lives better – but how often do they really take seriously the needs felt within their community of beneficiaries? Without this dialog, could their well-intentioned efforts be perpetuating a cycle of dependence and colonialism?
One NGO, Health and Harmony, has made it their goal to take these questions seriously and has developed a new framework, dubbed “Radical Listening”, that systematically gives agency back to the communities they aim to benefit by facilitating structured conversations to identify interventions desired by the community itself.
For an example of just how effective this approach can be, implementation at HIH’s proof of concept site in Indonesia showed a 90% reduction in logging households, a 67% reduction in infant mortality, and $65 million in averted carbon loss. Results like these have earned HIH a UN Climate Action Award, a FastCompany 2021 World Changing Idea Award, and recognition from the World Health Organization.
The Radical Listening approach generates community buy-in, puts beneficiaries in the driver’s seat of their own development, and helps generate the dignity and agency often lacking within traditional aid and development.
In this episode, we explore the genesis of the Radical Listening approach, its success in communities from Borneo to the Amazon, and how other NGOs can begin adopting elements of this methodology into their theory of change.
Jonathan Jennings spent 13 years with Doctors Without Borders managing humanitarian medical programs across the Balkans, Africa, and India, in areas of war, outbreak and natural disaster. In 2013 he became the Deputy Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders Canada.
Eventually, Jonathan became frustrated going to work every day to deal with the humanitarian fallout of a sick planet, and he became increasingly focused on the drivers of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Recognizing that human and ecosystem health are fundamentally interdependent, he followed his vision for change, becoming Executive Director of Health In Harmony in 2017.
Listen to learn:
- How protecting and expanding Earth’s tropical rainforests is the simplest, most effective, and least expensive way to reverse global heating and mass extinction.
- Why the experts at protecting and expanding Earth’s tropical rainforests are the people who live in them
- How Radically Listening is a pathway to cool the planet, rejuvenate species biodiversity, thwart future pandemics, and restore social justice.