Friday, 13 March 2009

Leader to Leader

One of the more satisfying aspects of my job over the last few years has been the way ACEVO has been able to support third sector leaders in other countries. And to learn from them.

Today I am a guest at the launch of the Slovenian third sector leaders network, taking place in Ljubljana. At the moment the title is the Slovenian Association of NGO Managers but they are looking at something more snappy. They like the Italian one of "Leader to Leader"; which sums up exactly the founding idea.

This will be the 3rd national ACEVO to be established - with the 4th, in Japan, happening in September. I hope that one day we can look to a strong international network of leaders - crossing all continents - which gives ACEVO a clear global focus and establishes leadership learning across borders.

This morning we were at a meeting with the Secretary of State, in the Slovenian Prime Minister's Office, to talk about how the third sector/Government relationship works in the UK and how EUCLID will operate to support leaders here. They are considering establishing an Office of the Third Sector at the centre of Government so I was being quizzed about size, money and scale. They also want to support EUCLID's work across the Balkans and we are hoping to establish a link post here to coordinate our activities across the Balkans.

I had an interesting talk with the Minister about the increasing role the sector plays in delivering public services. He is particularly keen on how to develop new environmentally focused industries and hopes that the current crisis will provide a chance to do that. It's the same focus I think our Government needs to take, investing in the growth industries of the future. He was also talking about how they wanted to get a more EU focus on such activity. Now that's a task and a half!

It was an energetic discussion. Coming on top of the success of the major civil society conference in Albania (which was even carried on national TV News) it makes a satisfying end to the week. The power of Leader networks. But now I'm keen to get back to a good cup of tea and my wonderful Hound, who has been sorely missing me. As the years pass, the allure of travel palls beside the comforts of one's home and hearth. Or am I just getting very old?

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