The world in which we live is global, and interdependent, and that is what the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize. The new development agenda has a truly universal framework that goes beyond the separatism of simply environmental, social or economic sustainability. It is an inclusive agenda for world prosperity that incorporates the safe operating space of a stable and resilient planet, and includes so much more that is important to people: measures of voice, job security, social protection, equality, sustainability, and dignity.

The SDGs allow us to address capacity development in a smarter and more coherent way and to support the private sector, government, research and development organizations to work together more efficiently and effectively to address today’s complex and dynamic challenges. From a systems’ perspective capacity development, innovation, knowledge and learning are all interdependent means to the same end: a lasting capacity for better performance in the pursuit of wider goals such as equity, inclusion and sustainable livelihoods.

A systems approach to capacity accounts for contextual factors, such as individual constraints, organizational shortcomings, institutional interfaces and regulatory and cultural barriers, which may make efforts to develop capacities ineffective.

Organizational capacities are more than the collection of the individual capacities of the organization’s members and are determined by a number of factors including operating routines, organizational cultures, incentives, resources and leadership. Organizational capacities cannot be easily copied or bought; they have to be built through sustained investments and training programs aiming to strengthen organizations and individuals working (to provide a value chain exampe) on different issues in the same chain (parallel action, not aligned), working on the same issues in the same chain (parallel action, aligned) and working together on the same issues in the same chain (convergent action) through capacity development response strategies.

While the importance of (local) capacity development is acknowledged a dozen times in the SDGs, in addition to explicit references to partnerships, our experiences shows that this work often lacks concerted effort and concomitant investment.

Development Connect applies organizational capacity assessment methodologies across sectors (which mainstream topics like gender, climate change, nutrition, partnerships) around required capacities for new program design, project implementation, uptake of specific (service delivery, value chain, program) strategies generated by development programs, the public or private sector. Such assessments help establish a capacity baseline, identify key entry points where functional and technical capacities need to be developed, detect new areas for research, and spur (local) enterprise development because more (evidence based) data to convince resource organizations, investors, incubator funds (and the likes) so to direct and expand financial investment for local organizational (enterprise) development.

Capacity assessment is an analysis of desired capacities against existing capacities which generates an understanding of capacity assets and needs that can serve as input for formulating a capacity development response that addresses those capacities that could be strengthened, and optimizes existing capacities that are already strong and well founded. It can also set the baseline for continuous monitoring and evaluation of progress against relevant indicators, and help create a solid foundation for long-term planning, implementation and sustainable results.

Development Connect offers a wide range of capacity development approaches and tools to its clients shaped by local contexts to address needs and demands, and will help formulate response strategies , recognizing that countries and partners dynamics are different. Development Connect draws on the strengths of multi-skilled experts, who apply coherent approaches providing support to its clients, which establishes shared goals and values, mobilizes energies, (political) interests and passions, and, perhaps most important, builds on, rather than displaces, existing local capacities and initiatives. One of Development Connect’s focus areas for targeted organizational capacity development advisory support is (local) public private (community) partnerships that seek to outline the full range of actions that the public, communities and private sector can take to support and promote, for example, women’s socio-economic rights and income generating opportunities in for example rural agricultural value chains and serve delivery sector.

Human Resource Capacity

The role of formal tertiary education as the principal source of developing human resources capacity evolves towards more hybrid models and capacity development pertaining human resources’ “individual” capacity development will need to shift in character with continuous out-of-box thinking. In capacity deficit service delivery sectors and value chains, crowd-sourced intelligence and experimental skill sets will be real options on the table, in which case, formally trained doers may be less important than connectors and compilers who can construct effective packages of offer geared up to suggest optimal solutions to countries. Here, the conceptualizing, testing, adapting and disseminating of innovative training approaches, including ICT for development, as part of capacity development response strategies will play vital roles.

Education is frequently seen as a means to strengthen national (resource) capacity. Yet how exactly education contributes to the development of national capacity often remains a black box. Hence, there is a strong case to be made that the interplay between education and national development should be a focus of attention in the policy arena. Conventional thinking suggests that education, and higher education in particular, is a way of meeting the manpower requirements for development. Here, manpower preparation is assumed to be a major means of capacity development.

Development Connect likes to postulate a fundamental point of departure for developing Human Resource Capacity: one that calls for (public and private sector) leadership vision and commitment and sound public management to build resilient societies.

Government capacity is a function of both political and bureaucratic institutions, if the leadership is not developmental, even the best bureaucracies will only make a small difference in outcomes. Motivating civil servants for performance, capacity development and reform is far from being a straightforward issue and no blueprint solution can be advised.

Development Connect can help design incentive schemes on a case-by-case manner after careful assessments, and which should be implemented on an incremental basis with short?term solutions targeted on some categories of staff. A coherent leadership and incentive system should comprise both carrots and sticks (positive motivators and sanctions) and mobilize all types of motivations, materialistic or not, and should assess how factors pertaining to these levels may impact upon civil servants’ motivation and human capacity enhancement. Changes in organizational arrangements require attention to the values and incentives that govern the behavior and performance of public officials.

New public governance” places citizens and the public interest, rather than government, at the centre of its frame, conceiving the state as both plural and pluralist; government is no longer the sole force shaping public policy and implementation. It is argued that the focus of public management capacity should be on citizens, community and civil society, and that the primary role of public servants is to help citizens articulate and meet shared interests to: a) develop collaborative relationships with citizens and groups; b) encourage shared responsibilities; c) disseminate information to elevate public discourse.

Here, Development Connect can offer advisory and technical support.