Working with partners worldwide

Civil society plays a key role in the process of achieving real system change for a more equitable and sustainable world. As an organisation based in Europe, Both ENDS considers strong partnerships with organisations from the Global South crucial to the success of our mission.

Our Southern counterparts are doing the vital work of identifying, developing and implementing innovations that ensure the fair management of natural resources and more sustainable livelihoods in line with the realities of their countries and regions. They play an equally vital role in calling attention to and combatting developments that are increasingly widening the gap between the rich and the poor, destroying the natural world and leading to human rights violations. These developments often have their origins in European policies and business practices, though their negative impact is felt more acutely in the countries of our Southern partners.


Both ENDS’ partners share our vision of a fair, sustainable and inclusive world. They include civil society organisations (CSOs), communitybased organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research institutions. While most are based in countries in the Global South, they theoretically can come from anywhere in the world. Both ENDS’ process of identifying which partners to work with does not follow a strict protocol. Mostly it is based on an organic process of getting to know each other, commonalities between our thematic work fields, similar strategies and approaches, complementary needs, and of course positive joint work experiences that have shown to deliver good results for all involved parties.

For two years now, Both ENDS has had a dedicated team of four employees who manage our cooperation with our Southern partners. This team aims to ensure that our partners’ realities, points of view and needs are reflected in all of Both ENDS’ important strategic choices and that their interests are reflected in key processes. For example, the team encourages other colleagues to engage in ‘scouting trips’ to regions where our partner network is still nascent, which has resulted in a significant increase of new partners in West and East Africa as well as in Central America.


Apart from working with civil society organisations all around the world, Both ENDS also forms strategic partnerships with different kinds of institutions. This involves cooperation with knowledge centres, universities, (semi) public institutions or companies in or outside the Netherlands.

Strategic partnerships are characterised by sustainable, long-term cooperation. These partnerships help both parties to reach our goals together by developing knowledge, working together in lobbying and advocacy or joint fundraising activities. It also helps each of us to become stronger as individual organisations.

In 2017, we continued our partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as coordinator of the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance. Other strategic partnerships include our cooperation with the World Resource Institute, the Climate Action Network and Wageningen University.


Mutual capacity development: towards a strong civil society

A civil society that is a strong player at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally – is essential for the work of Both ENDS. Therefore, strengthening and empowering civil society organisations in the Global South that work towards creating a more equitable and sustainable world is part of Both ENDS’ core business.

In our cooperation with partners, we often follow the concept of Mutual Capacity Development (MCD). With the FGG Alliance, we published a guide on our understanding and application of this concept in 2017.

We define MCD as the process of strengthening skills, knowledge and network contacts, involving Both ENDS and the other FGG Alliance members and our partner organisations in the Global South as equal partners. Together we develop, learn and become stronger lobbyists and advocates for positive change. In practical terms, this means that we:

  • Learn by doing: partner organisations and FGG Alliance members learn through joint projects, research, lobbying, advocacy and campaigning. Through reflective practice, they see what works and what does not and adapt their actions accordingly.
  • Train and advise each other: partner organisations and FGG Alliance members organise and take part in trainings and workshops, and they provide each other with
    strategic and operational advice.
  • Lobby and advocate for increased civic space and an enabling environment: to ensure civic actors can play their role, their space to convene and intervene in decision-making processes needs to be guaranteed. As these rights are currently under threat, we lobby together to create the necessary enabling environment.

The 6 capacities crucial to effective lobbying and advocacy are:

  1. Access: influence on and/or participation in decision-making processes
  2. Constituency: the capacity to speak with a loud and collective voice
  3. Knowledge: access to relevant knowledge, and the ability to carry out research and analyses to substantiate your argument
  4. Advocacy skills: the ability to develop and implement lobbying and advocacy strategies, including the ability to communicate effectively
  5. Leverage: the ability to exert influence
  6. An enabling environment: the capacity for activists and CSOs to let their voices be heard freely and safely, as well as an environment that guarantees the space for civil society to engage in decision-making processes.


Zambian CSO-employee and a community member explain local situation to Karin (Both ENDS)


The Green Climate Fund (GCF), part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a mechanism to assist developing countries in implementing adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. Both ENDS and our partners insist that the GCF cannot be effective without Southern expertise. Because who knows more about the tangible, direct impacts of climate change on local communities than civil society organisations rooted in the Global South?

Therefore, Aksi! (Indonesia), AIDA (Latin America), Micronesia Conservation Trust (Micronesia), DIVA for Equality (Fiji), Samdhana (Indonesia) and Both ENDS try to create more engagement and space for CSOs and local communities in the GCF decision-making process and in the distribution of GCF financial resources. Together we attend the GCF meetings to collectively advocate giving civil society access to the GCF. We convene prior to GCF board meetings to strategise, assess policy decisions and submit joint inputs to the board.

This is a crucial moment for mutual capacity development: the groups exchange knowledge and (local and national) intelligence about GCF projects and accreditation, specific knowledge on policy gaps, and they work together to formulate and bring the right messages to the right decision-makers.

Because the Netherlands has a seat on the GCF Board, Both ENDS has played a key role in helping establish direct contact and communication between the Southern groups and the Dutch board member. It has also facilitated indirect access: giving voice to Southern partners by relaying partners’ knowledge and experiences about local practice to the Dutch board member when direct communication between them is not possible or practical.

The fact that Both ENDS is informed about and has the capacity to relay these experiences is attributable to the lessons learned from partners in the process of mutual capacity development.

In 2017 the GCF approved accreditation of the Micronesia Conservation Trust as the first small grants fund. Although it is hard to tell to what extent this milestone can be attributed to our joint MCD efforts, it is likely that the contact the Trust established with the GCF board while attending the meetings with our support helped to achieve this success.


Group of civil society organisations lobbying at Green Climate Fund Board.




Advocating sustainable, fair policies and meaningful CSO participation

When institutions such as development banks, UN departments or governments design policies that aim to protect the environment and people who rely on natural resources, they often forget to ensure the meaningful participation of civil society. So despite the good intentions, sometimes the impact of these policies or plans is negligible, or even adverse. Therefore, we do our best to give our civil society partners from the Global South a seat at the table.

This led to some remarkable successes in 2017. For example, the Dutch dredging company Van Oord started talking to local communities in Suape, Brazil, and in Jakarta, Indonesia local fishermen organised themselves and halted the controversial Jakarta Bay project. The Dutch development bank FMO held a civil society consultation and reviewed its social and environmental policies thereafter.

Another good example that shows the importance of CSO participation in decisionmaking processes is the contribution by Both ENDS and other Drynet members at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification). We developed a mutual advocacy strategy in order to make the voice of civil society heard at the UNCCD in the future. We advocated against CSOs being sidelined and managed to have their role included in the preamble of and the decision on the UNCCD Strategic Framework 2018-2030.

Our efforts also helped to get gender equality and the empowerment of women, girls and youth included in the Strategic Framework. Furthermore, Both ENDS and Drynet supported the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGTs).

The VGGTs focus on land tenure, which is crucially important in the fight against desertification and land degradation. Access, ownership and control of land are key to successfully implementing sustainable land management and restoration.

Thanks to the efforts of Drynet members and many other CSOs, the UNCCD Strategic Framework now acknowledges the importance of the VGGTs in the combat against desertification and land degradation. Read more about our activities and results at the UNCCD COP13.


Ana Di Pangracio of FARN (Argentina) speaking at UNCCD COP 13 (photo IISD)


Alternative solutions for the governance of natural resources

Because of their close relationship with their living environment, local communities often have the best ideas for the sustainable use and management of land, water and forests. Over  the course of many years, Both ENDS has encountered many inspiring examples of how to do this and wishes to make these alternatives available to others.

These alternatives are local initiatives that have proven their value in practice, and are supported by the communities and our partner organisations. They all start from respect for people and the planet.

Both ENDS has been working with our partners for many years to support and build alternatives. To boost this effort, in 2017 we defined four alternative approaches to the management of natural resources: Participatory Land-Use Planning (PLUP), the Negotiated Approach to water resource management, Rich Forests, and Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration of drylands (FMNR). These four alternatives have already proven their worth on a smaller scale and in various contexts. In the coming years, we will intensify our efforts to promote, fund, scale up and replicate these alternatives.


PLUP is an alternative, inclusive and participatory approach to land governance. It aims to empower communities to assert their rights to use, own and manage their land both in practice and in local and national policy dialogues. This especially concerns their rights to customary and communally-managed land. The approach can be used to prevent or resolve land-use conflicts, defend against land grabbing, plan for the sustainable management of natural resources, or provide a framework for inclusive land-use decision making.

Strengthening local people’s right to access and land use provides a foundation for communities to plan and invest in sustainable land-use practices. The recognition of these rights also provides an institutional shield against unwanted interference from external actors who do not fully respect the rights of local land users. In turn, sustainable land-use practices and collective land-based enterprises also provide an economic and social buffer against land grabs and the acquisition of communal lands by corporate actors. Read more about PLUP on our website:

Both ENDS supports local CSOs to build the capacity of communities to strengthen land (use) rights through PLUP and to enhance the role of PLUP in regional, national and international policies. At the same time, Both ENDS has been collaborating with the National Community Mapping Association in Indonesia (JKPP) in discussions with the National Land Administration Agency


and Kadaster International (the international division of the Netherlands’ Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency) to formally recognise community mapping practices in official land administration processes.

In 2017, for example, Both ENDS initiated two new PLUP projects in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, to support four indigenous communities whose rights had been violated resulting from conflicts with encroaching oil palm plantations and overlapping government conservation areas.

Community meeting in Monze, Zambia


The Negotiated Approach promotes sustainable water resource management and aims to enable local communities to protect their rights and propose and negotiate viable long-term
strategies to alleviate poverty and ensure healthy ecosystems.

Access to water and land is essential for the rural poor. However, local communities often have poor access to fishing grounds, drinking water and fertile lands, and they are rarely involved in planning and decision-making. The Negotiated Approach is an instrument designed to correct this issue: it aims to create structural political space that will enable local people to acquire a long-term negotiating position over the planning and management of natural resources, especially water. Read more about the Negotiated Approach on our website:

Both ENDS has been promoting the Negotiated Approach around the world since the first pilot projects started in 2006. For example, in the Shifting Grounds project we train this method to local communities and government officials in Bangladesh and India. In 2017, this led to an improved drinking water allocation mechanism in two villages in the peri-urban areas of Khulna, Bangladesh.

One of these villages was Hogladanga. Already in 2016, our partner JJS developed a social map of Hogladanga village together with people from the community.

The map pinpointed the places where severe water insecurity exists, and it also identified areas where there is a scarcity of drinking water.

In 2016 and 2017, this was followed by village ‘mango tree’ meetings, which has resulted in the formation of a core group of village representatives. Together with government representatives and water experts, these village representatives attended workshops on the Negotiated Approach, which enabled all parties to start developing a fair and sustainable water management plan.


Social map of Hogladanga village, developed with people from the community.


Forests are crucial to the livelihoods of 1.2 billion people in developing countries. The forests enable people to pick fruits, nuts and berries, harvest honey and resin, gather herbs for use as medicine, find construction materials for their houses and collect firewood. Large tracts of forest land have disappeared in the past 20 to 30 years, causing millions of people to lose their essential resources and means of living.

But what if we managed to restore degraded land to its original state, or even better, to transform it into ‘rich forests’? Such forests not only provide a good habitat for plants and animals, but also enable local people to create sustainable livelihoods through the use and sale of forest products. Since the 1980s, our partners around the world have shown that this is feasible. They have created food forests, in which crops that do well in the climate and circumstances of that particular area, such as bananas, papayas, coffee beans, tea leaves, herbs, spices and rattan are cultivated in between the trees, yielding products that can be sold.

The Rich Forests initiative is an alliance of Both ENDS and two international networks that have been successful in transforming degraded land into productive food forests (Analog Forestry). Rich Forests’ objective is to help local producers improve the production and marketing of forest products and to link these producers to social entrepreneurs and investors.

In 2017, Rich Forests produced a partly animated video that presents the four basic steps of Analog Forestry: pilot sites, research, marketing and advocacy. The film was, and still is, shown to a wide audience of mainly entrepreneurs, policymakers and donors. In 2018, Both ENDS will put great effort into drawing up an acquisition plan for Rich Forests to prepare for the years to come.


Picking tea from forest garden in Sri Lanka


In the 1980s, male and female farmers in the south of Niger started restoring the fertility of their land using a traditional agro-forestry method that had long been forgotten. It uses the dormant ‘underground forest’ of seeds, roots and tree stumps still present in the soil: the shoots that spontaneously spring up are protected against cattle and uncontrolled tree felling, and special pruning methods are used to encourage the young trees to grow more quickly. Once they have matured, the trees offer protective buffers against sandstorms and erosion, and provide shade, fertilizer, cattle feed, tree products and wood for local people to use or sell. The fertility of the soil improves and water levels in wells, ponds and lakes rise, so that food crops can even be cultivated between the trees. Research has shown that a greener landscape generates not only more biodiversity but also better harvests – and thus more income and food security.

The method the farmers use has proven to be very effective, cheap and easy to apply. Both ENDS supports farmers and communities using this approach, which has been called Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). By 2017, funding by the Turing Foundation had enabled farmers in 80 villages in the district of Dogonkiria, Niger to adopt this traditional agro-forestry method, and 11,000 hectares of land are currently regaining their fertility thanks to FMNR.

The results have been so promising that DOB Ecology, a large Dutch fund, has decided to provide financial support for the coming ten years. This is a great boost to efforts to re-green the whole Sahel region. Read more about our results on FMNR in chapter 3 and on our website.


Regreening method ‘Demilune’ or ‘half moon’, to keep the soil moist


Small grants, big impacts

The ‘re-greening case’ shows how a small initiative can succeed with very limited means and even be the start of something much larger. With an initial small grant of just 5,000 euros, farmers in Niger restored over 11,000 hectares of degraded land.

Just like the farmers in Niger, thousands of grassroots groups and organisations are working worldwide to protect and improve their environment, human rights and the living conditions of local communities. Unfortunately, most financial institutions, donors and funds – including the Green Climate Fund – still prefer investing in large-scale projects which often have little or no sustainable impact on the ground.

Small grants funds can provide the much needed link between these funders and local communities, and ensure that financing reaches those who need it most and know best how to use it.

Both ENDS is the co-founder of a number of small grants funds and works closely with funds that focus on environmental and human rights defenders, for instance within the framework of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA)

As we want to promote the notion that small grants funds can be powerful alternative financing mechanisms for bottom-up sustainable development, we decided to dedicate extra capacity from the communications department especially to this end. We produced a 4-page report to raise awareness about the power of small grants among policymakers, funds and donors. We have also highlighted the issue on our website and have made preparations to conduct a workshop on Africa Day in Amsterdam on 14 April 2018. In addition, Both ENDS will run several workshops at the Adaptation Futures event taking place in June 2018 in South Africa4 pager Small Grants, Big Impacts