Conference in London, March 2011

In March 2011, the international Smart CSOs Conference in London convened around 100 CSO leaders, academics and funders to collectively take the Smart CSOs thinking to the next level and to develop practical ways forward.

This conference looked at why CSOs should work towards a more holistic and systemic transition to a sustainable society instead of pursuing the narrow technical policy focus of many of today’s strategies. It then focused on the different existing areas of knowledge that can help CSOs become more effective in pursuing the vision of the Great Transition.

The conference ended with a commitment from a number of organisations to take this work forward and create a Smart CSOs hub which would foster the development of a community of practice of CSO leaders, funders and researchers who are committed to becoming stronger change agents (and internal champions in their organisations) for the Great Transition. It would act with an external voice mainly in NGO/CSO/funders fora on effective CSO strategies for the Great Transition.

Key questions explored at the conference were:

  • What insights can help CSOs better understand how a socio-technical transition to a sustainable economy can happen?
  • What role do societal values play in social change towards a sustainable society, and what can CSOs learn from cognitive science?
  • How can CSOs use bottom-up approaches to experiment and practice with the new economic models and unlock policy processes?
  • What capacity-building, knowledge-transfer programmes and new research are needed to support CSOs in developing more effective strategies?
  • How can we engage funders in CSO strategies towards systemic change and in new collaborative research that can strengthen the role CSOs play in the Great Transition?

The Smart CSOs Conference was the final conference of the Action Town project. Action Town was an FP7 project and kindly funded by the European Commission. The official name is CSOContribution2SCP.