Building partnerships in Global Citizenship Education

Ms Maeve Galvin from Bridge 47 project was a key-note speaker at South-East Europe and Mediterranean Regional Seminar on Global Development Education Follow-up meeting that took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia on  November 6, 2018. Ms Galvin gave a motivational speech on partnership in global citizenship education (GCE) and presented the project and its activities.

Ms Galvin posed a crucial question to the audience: what good is GCE if we are keeping it to ourselves? “In order to really prove that GCE can do all of the wonderful things we believe it can do, we have to bring GCE out of its comfort zone. We have to stop talking to ourselves and get reaching out to new people.” At Bridge 47, they are challenging themselves to partner with varied and influential partners including academia, private sector, government, media and more who can help us bring GCE to new audiences and demonstrate that the SDGs cannot be achieved without GCE.

Learnings from GCE partnerships:

  1. When it comes to partnerships, there is no need to start from scratch

“We’ve found that leveraging existing relationships and building on what has been done has been very important to help us get started. For example, our consortium member EADI had some existing work with the United Nations System Staff College a UN entity leading education on the SDGs. This relationship has led to our ongoing discussions about a global partnership with them which has the potential to bring GCE to huge numbers of people, including one million civil servants in India.

Looking at opportunities to build upon existing work is also important. For example, in Denmark, we are leading conversations with two major NGO platforms in order to enhance the great advocacy work that they are already doing and move them towards advocating on GCE.”

  1. It’s important to invest in your language

“In our early conversations with prospective partners, we spent a lot of time explaining who we are and what GCE is. It’s been challenging to do this without reverting to jargon or over-explaining ourselves. To become more effective communicators, we’ve invested in our messaging and in ourselves. We’ve been working with a tone of voice expert to learn how to use simpler, more engaging language and to use stories in order to make stronger connections.

  1. Failure is a learning experience

Our project has a big focus on disseminating lessons to benefit all GCE practitioners. But that doesn’t mean only learning from our successes: failure is okay as long we learn from it, reroute our course and share what we learned. We’ve made great headway with a potential partner only for our progress to become impeded when our main contact moved jobs and we’ve had great first meetings only for it to prove inexplicably difficult to get a second one. To manage these setbacks, we’ve learned to be adaptable and to anticipate some attrition. Partnerships are after all made up of people and sometimes other priorities get in the way.”

  1. Research is important and takes time.

“In the beginning, we underestimated the amount of research needed to make the right impression on a prospective partner. However, the investment in learning who a partner is and how to approach them pays off and we’re seeing the results of this in places including Ireland where we are in talks with a responsible business network about a partnership bringing their private sector members and our civil society organisations together. It sounds quite obvious but if you know them, they are impressed and far more receptive.

Alongside this, you have to find areas of mutual interest and sometimes this requires tough analysis. For example, when thinking about approaching the police academy in Denmark, we really had to question ourselves about what we can reasonably offer them that may meet their needs. The police in Denmark are highly trusted by Danes but the investment in police education has lowered significantly meanwhile Denmark has become a much more diverse place. While we have many differing priorities, our mutual interests are peace and helping solve community problems. Our thinking is that by training the police in GCE it can help to ensure they have greater understanding of communities that may differ from their own.”

       5. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for partnerships

“The formula of how partnerships are assembled matters far less than the substance of the partnership. Sometimes we need to expand beyond traditional one on one partnerships to strengthen the work. For example, in Estonia to get things moving in the right direction, we created the Coalition for Sustainable Development bringing together NGOs, private sector, academia and state institutions. The coalition format is designed to get each of these actors committed in spite of areas of different interests.

We’ve also had to learn flexibility in terms of how partnerships are formed. For example, we’re developing a media partnership in Ireland with a sustainability NGO. In order to engage the right journalists in this, we are starting by having open trainings for them and then building on the opportunities this provides.”

      6. It takes courage

Real courage is needed to initiate partnerships with those who may never have heard of GCE or the SDGs and may work in an entirely different arena. This isn’t always comfortable. It takes perseverance to approach and chase up someone who you are worried may not initially be interested in talking to you. We’ve been uncomfortable a lot it our pursuit of partnerships.”


 Projekt Bridge 47 sooblikuje in izvaja 15 evropskih in globalnih organizacij civilne družbe, med njimi je tudi platforma SLOGA. Namen projekta je mobilizacija civilne družbe, da s pomočjo globalnega učenja prispeva k pravičnosti in izkoreninjenju revščine po svetu. Projekt Bridge 47 sofinancirata Evropska unija in Ministrstvo za zunanje zadeve Republike Slovenije.Bridge 47 logotipi