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New transparency platform for Guatemala emerges from LAC Hub Innovation Lab

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A new platform seeking to strengthen the transparency, supervision and accountability of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Central America has been created through I4C’s co-design methodology.

The Platform for Transparency (Plataforma por la Transparencia) was developed during LAC Hub co-design sessions in Guatemala.

During the workshops, also known as Innovation Labs, organisations are trained in exercises and tools aimed at making economic, human and technical resources more efficient, and to help them rethink internal project design and creation processes to achieve more innovative results.

There are two processes used in the I4C Innovation Lab sessions that are relatively well-known methodologies but are not used in the civil society sector specifically: design thinking and human-centred design (HCD). The key to success for these sessions is “fail fast to get it right soon”, as it is only through trial and error that a quick but ideal outcome will be achieved.

To ensure that they are using the methodology well, I4C takes into account certain practices including the diversity among participants, the diversity of cultural contexts in the LAC region, and the importance of good moderation by people familiar with the methodology and topic.

As equally important is that creative tools - Post-it notes, stickers, pipe cleaners, and even Lego and Playdough - are used to bring out creativity and that there is an adequate physical or virtual space to unleash innovation. The design thinking methodology implies that significant results are obtained in a short amount of time. An Innovation Lab is executed in just three days, beginning with an idea, and ending with a prototype project.

There also needs to be seed funds to reward the best initiative and encourage participation.

Uniting the tech and private sector with civil society

The LAC Hub has so far held 12 co-design workshops in Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. More than 300 organisations have participated. An objective of the sessions was to also promote collaboration between different organisations from different areas, such as the tech sector and private sector.

The Platform for Transparency, created in 2017 and 2018, has now evolved into an CSO with its own legal structure.

“This shows how an idea born in an Innovation Lab later became an organisation, said LAC Hub coordinator Cristina Ordóñez.

“It also shows the success of the Innovation Labs.”

The Platform for Transparency highlights the contribution of CSOs towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also acknowledges the National Development Plan K’atun: Our Guatemala 2032, said Patricia Melgar Orozco, the president of the Asociación Civil Ernesto Shneider. They are among 25 organisations registered with it.

“Another objective is to influence the accountability of CSOs,” said Ms. Melgar Orozco.

Other organisations registered with the site are Northern Alliance 6, Network of Women for Democracy Guatemala, and Fundación Sobrevivientes.

During the platform’s design, a series of talks titled “Dialogues for Transparency” were held across Guatemala. More than 400 civil society representatives participated.

Ms. Orozco said that the current pandemic had put a strain on the sector, with an increased need from society for the services offered by CSOs, but no capacity to manage this. Another challenge was the lack of financial resources for CSOs to carry out their work.

“In Guatemala, there is a persistent threat of the approval of a law that wants to control CSOs, violates the right of freedom of association and opposes a multicultural vision,” she said.

“CSOs are at risk of disappearing due to lack of resources, bureaucratic entrapment, and the high cost of having a legal status and a legal representative.”

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