Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Getting out of our silos

Our society – ministries, universities, etc. - is organized vertically along specializations. It means that biodiversity, wetlands, climate change used to be dealt with by specialists and specialist organizations in the relative isolation of their silo. To deal effectively with the challenges of sustainable development, the new trend is to get out of these silos.

Increasingly ecologists are not anymore totally sidelined when sanitation engineers do their work in slums: as both silos realize that the results will be much more sustainable, when the project design is not based only on thinking in terms of steel and concrete, but also in terms of wetlands and river basins. Biodiversity is becoming part of Integrated Water Management, Poverty Reduction Plans and Strategies and Climate Change mitigation approaches.

For international organizations and ministries of environment, this means a paradigm shift. The matrix illustrates e.g. the paradigm shift with regards to biodiversity. Getting out of our silos also affects communication. The new paradigm and culture shift has to be internalized in the organization: experts have to learn to tailor their messages to the language and concrete priority issues of the end users in other silos.

External communication has to improve horizontal exchange and relation management. Biodiversity e.g. has to be positioned and packaged as a credible solution for the priority issues of other silos. This often means to ‘reduce’ biodiversity initially to a concrete ecosystem service or species: the Maya nut as poverty alleviation, or the mangrove as climate change mitigation.

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