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Capacity development: how should we reframe it for the digital age?

By 25/02/2014

What’s the latest thinking on capacity development? Do social media and new digital tools play a key role? When Itad was asked to brief the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on these questions we brought together a team of staff and associates – me (Robbie), Cheryl, Isabel, Mel and Pete – whose varied perspectives and expertise helped us develop a conceptual framework for them, which we are calling Capacity Development 2, or CD2.

The birth of ‘Capacity Development 2’

I have just posted a summary of the CD2 framework on the Itad blog and we’re hoping that people working in research uptake, capacity development, and evidence informed policy will share their views on what we have presented as the core components of CD2.

In our desk-based research we looked at what capacity, and capacity development mean, and a central idea for our team was that capacity involves the ability of a society or sector to continue to develop necessary skills, behaviours, networks and institutions that enable communities to adapt and self-renew into the future. Obviously this broader and more sustainable framing of capacity requires more than just one-off workshops and training events, a point that was reinforced by Ajoy Datta on a previous R2A blog post.

The foundation of the CD2 framework is based on understanding of ‘capacity’ as an emergent property of the functioning of the different processes in a system. Capacity isn’t a single ‘outcome’ that can be influenced by a single intervention or organisation and capacity development isn’t a one-off workshop or training event. It’s also not about replacing ‘traditional’ capacity development activities with digital tools or bolting on a social media element, although we do believe engagement with digital devices and the Internet is central to any conception of CD2.

CD1 versus CD2

We go on to contrast the old and the new – where a CD1 approach typically focuses on building the skills needed to produce an output that meets today’s requirements, and a CD2 approach that aims to build skills, but also support new attitudes and behaviours, shift institutional relationships to sustain compliance, and support new, locally-driven policies and practices around the issues into the future.

Join the discussion

Over the coming weeks we will publish a series of follow-up blog postings which elaborate and attempt to illustrate the five core components of the CD2 framework. Throughout this process we would welcome your views and comments on how the framework could be enhanced and applied.

Image courtesy of suphakit73/


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