STICHTING OIKOSNET POLICY PLAN 2012 - 2014
1. Brief History
OIKOSNET is a global network of Christian laity retreat centres, academies and movements of social concern working for inclusive, just, participatory and sustainable communities. OIKOSNET was founded in 1972, as part of the development of the ecumenical movement. Stichting OIKOSNET as the legal entity in the Netherlands was founded in 2007.
Since its inception, OIKOSNET has been closely connected with the World Council of Churches (WCC) through the Education and Ecumenical Formation Program. OIKOSNET's theme for 2000-2010, "Nurturing Peace, Overcoming Violence," was the same one as the one which was embraced by the WCC.
OIKOSNET is the expression of collaboration between the following 6 regional associations with a common identity:
- Oikosnet Africa - African Christian Lay Centres Association
- Oikosnet América Latina - Red Ecuménica de Centros Laicos (Ecumenical Network of Lay Centres)
- Oikosnet Asia - Association of Centres and Institutions of Social Concerns in Asia
- Oikosnet Europe - Ecumenical Association of Academies and Laity Centres in Europe
- Oikosnet Middle East - Middle East Association of Training and Retreat Centres
- Oikosnet North America - North American Retreats Centres Association
Our network embodies a variety of organisations with trained teams and qualified professionals, working on different issues, enriching one another and nurturing their development processes. This provides an invaluable means of cooperation which enables members to exchange information, share resources, and participate in projects, as well as to share strategies that contribute to improve the life of those living in exclusion, poverty and social inequality.
This global network brings together more than 200 different organisations and centres across five continents, trained to carry out joint actions at local, national, regional and international levels. The management skills that we have developed enable us to run projects supported by government sources and multilateral cooperation organisations, as well as by private and ecumenical development agencies.
As one of the global partners in the ecumenical world, OIKOSNET understands that the current international context and the resulting perspectives are an invitation to renew the calling and ecumenical commitment in order to contribute from its mission and vision to peace-building and the defence of those who are suffering the most.
2. Mission and Vision Statements
OIKOSNET International embodies the global commitment of six regional networks working together to foster dialogue, peaceful change, sustainability and ecumenical formation.
It is a dynamic interface for advocating and promoting the issues and concerns in question and translating them into actions, from the local context to the global context, and vice versa.
Oikosnet is a strategic partner in the ecumenical and interfaith arena, whose work is recognised by other partners in civil society who share our values.
· Equity in Diversity. Equity: Seeing to it that every person receives their share, ensuring equal opportunities for all and promoting a differential distribution so that the specific needs of individuals or communities are met. Diversity: We are an inclusive organisation that welcomes all kind of people regardless of race, age, gender, sexual preferences, ethnic origin or social background.
· Solidarity. Exercising solidarity by acting in a comprehensive manner, embracing the causes, interests and needs of the vulnerable people and communities as our own.
· Accountability. We value our stakeholders and we are committed to managing our programs and resources in an ethical and accountable manner. Accountability is the process by which we hold ourselves responsible for what we believe in, for what we do or do not do, for what we say, for how we say it, and for the things we choose not to say, in ways that show the involvement of all concerned parties and engage them in active response. Transparency: we are committed to being as transparent and open as possible by disclosing information regarding projects, programme evaluations and audits. Transparency is about providing information, speaking openly and honestly about what we do/do not do, about how we do it, and about the resources we use.
· Sustainability. Sustainable development enhances the capacity of individuals and communities to determine their own future and to tap into the local financial and human resources available.
3. Programmes and Priorities
Stichting OIKOSNET is the umbrella of regional associations, which are umbrellas for centres and communities in their respective regions. Our major assets are the people which do the work. Exchange and encouragement: learning opportunities come through face to face exchanges, then can continue electronically/virtual. Our role is to provide safe spaces for support and encouragement, to identify what is working in each region, to share the information with the rest of membership, to collect stories on struggles of centres in different regions, to share information on innovative activities and to promote linkages among centres around interesting projects and ideas.
Strengthening good communication, virtual and face to face, about what is happening where. Centres have newsletters, websites, electronic newsletters, etc. to exchange information; without communication and knowing about each other, other things will not work. Also regions' representatives should bring the stories: ears and eyes open. Sharing need take place at all levels. Also communication training is necessary.
We need to communicate internally first, and figure out the best way to do that, and think about how to communicate effectively, establish good qualitative method and guidelines. Serve as conduit for ideas: highlight a couple of examples of good practice in centres that fit in our priorities, share information about it. If each member chooses two a year from their region, that is manageable.
Communications levels needed: a) internal intentional: global mailing list and Google drive; b) outside public: blog and website with centres directory/identity of organizations/links to specifics; c) public informal: Facebook and Twitter; c) internal board: Facebook group, Google drive and Skype d) guidelines; e) global communications team (one per region); f) printed three-fold flyer; g) meetings summary send to regions and centres.
Expand frequency of meetings to 18 months. Meet next early 2014: dates and venue to be proposed by Oikosnet Africa.
Board – elected in June 2012
President – Jean Richardson (North America)
Secretary – Afia Darkwa Amanor (Africa)
Treasurer – Jaap van der Sar (Europe)
Members – German Zarate (Latin America), John Zechariah (Asia)
Auditor – Walter Lüssi (Europe)
Coordinator – German Zijlstra (Latin America) – until the end of 2013.
Work plan for 2013 and 2014
At the meeting in the United States in June 2012, the Board discussed the new situation of Stichting Oikosnet. Until 2010 there were regularly funds coming in from donor-agencies, mainly from Europe. They changed their policies regarding the funding of global organisations. As a consequence Oikosnet International was not eligible anymore for these organisations so general funding is not a reality for the near future. This forced the Board of Oikosnet International to review the policy-plan, having in mind that still some funds are available for the support of our work.
As a result of this review, the Board of Oikosnet International decided:
a) To concentrate on the communication among the regions. This was translated into the promise to support different ways of communication among the regional bodies of Oikosnet. The promise was specified in more detailed tasks for the different members of the Board.
b) To support members of the different associations, be it individual persons of member-organisations. We recognised that several of our members found themselves in challenging situations, both in their region as well as in their own organisations within their country. We recognised that more than once nothing can be done from people and organisations abroad. And yet it is important to be in contact with representatives of these organisations. The decision was taken that this type of support would be organised in such a way that – in case anyone in difficult or very challenging situations is determined – one of the other members can be asked to have the function as a contact person for that organisation in need. The person in charge will function as the linking pint between Oikosnet International and the identified member.
c) To organise the exchange of experiences among the members. This is realised through offering opportunities to participate in different activities. In addition to this a regular meeting of Oikosnet International will be organised. The first is scheduled for 2014. The continent in which this event will take place is Africa. As a consequence the General Secretary of Africa will function as the organiser for that meeting, asking for help for any assistance from other Board members of Oikosnet International.
d) The funds, which are available for Oikosnet International, will mainly be used for organising the meetings among the representatives of different regions. After the end of 2013, the person who organises the next meeting will act as the coordinator of Oikosnet International until the venue for the next meeting is determined.
Wageningen, July 2012, updated November 2013.