FFP Challenge Debrief

Yannic Bucher • 10 November 2020
in group Gender
FFP Challenge Debrief

Piloting collaboration in the Open Think Tank Network

The Feminist Foreign Policy challenge is special in many ways: It is the first joint project by the Open Think Tank Network. It is a timely contribution to the Feminist Foreign Policy agenda. It turned the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity to enable participation across 5 continents. And it is by far the most collaborative endeavour in our history: 

  • 45 volunteers from the network got involved as organizers, authors, facilitators, and more.
  • 200 inspiring participants from all over the world joined our 7 virtual Policy Kitchen workshops
  • 20 top international experts participated as advisory board members or speakers
  • 90 policy proposals were generated in the process
  • A comprehensive 80 page-report on Feminist Foreign Policy was collaboratively written by 5 teams across the network

On 13 November 2020, the FFP project team, participants and guests came together to celebrate their achievements and to debrief the process over the past 12 months. 

Here are our brainstorming results and learnings in three different areas. Feel free to add additional thoughts in the comments below. 

Generating impact

General discussion: What are our goals? & who do we want to reach?

Who should know about FFP? Actors:

  • Inspired by the ideas on 'cities': majors on the city level
  • Ministries
  • In Geneva City Hub, CEDAW, CSW ( via membership sponsorship, virtual)
  • Swiss governmentÂ
  • Austrian Foreign Minister
  • Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna
  • Universities, so that everyone knows that they can participate, King's College scholars
  • Representatives of the EU
  • EU Delegations outside the EU
  • Swiss media
  • Women in Internal Security
  • GCSP Geneva
  • Other Vienna ideas: there is a hub of the International Gender Champions and the head of the IAEA, OSCE, UNIDO, Space, etc are all Champions. There is scope to have an event with their Representation Impact Group chaired by Canada. Also the International Gender Champions based in the original hub in Geneva and hub in Paris
  • Also Generation Equality forums which launch in the spring one held by Mexico, and the final  with Delphine O as the Sec-Gen in Paris. France is the Uber-host of this post Beijing +25 concept of Generation Equality.
  • Beijing 25 / 6 Action coalitions
  • Brexit transition period end of 2020 - opportunity for new foreign policy? Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab could benefit...
  • Gender Budget Group in the UK


  • Write a one pager to circulate (quicker read than full publication), send to politicians
  • Check if there's a debate on the topic or an event (use as a hook), then contact government, that we would like to brief them on FFP and share ideas
  • For media: use 'collaboration'/numbers/zoom activism as a hanger (rather than only FFP) - people are interested in knowing how organizations adapted during.
  • Write a blog about the whole project that can be shared with strategic partners, think tanks and in social networks. Talk about the process & learnings.
  • Organise civil society meeting with different think tanks, form coalitions and talk about what can we do, how issues raised in the publication can be addressed by the NGOs. These meetings can take place on an international level, also as an opportunity to network with everyone, or  a national level to discuss how change can be achieved at the national level.
  • Organise separate events for parliamentarians, brief discussion session, also frame it as a networking event. Can be done at the national or transnational level. However, on a national level, topic could be discussed in a more contextual and concrete way/ in the language of choice.
  • Let's not prioritize embassies rather focus on reaching out to parliamentarians
  • Third additional way IPU; International Gender Champions
  • Spread in networks: create a campaign with a hashtag, think of if people can sign the publication to raise pressure on governments.


Ideation process

Workshop general

  • Great speakers
  • "discussion every time different and interesting” (person attending several workshops)
  • well signposted what’s happening during workshop
  • would have been good to have more time
  • Background briefing was valuable
  • In argo workshop too many speakers? took away ideation time.
  • some participants were surprised they had to do actual thinking/work (but most liked it) → expectations mgt.


  • very international
  • Expertise among participants was valued. Some participants didn’t bring a lot of expertise, so some ideas stayed superficial. Overall, the mix was good in terms of expertise.
  • Too few men
  • Lack of racial diversity

Continued engagement

  • Refinement workshop
  • in some chapters participants joined as authors
  • some participants would have liked to go deeper and didn’t feel they were offered an avenue for that.
  • Some participants did not understand the workshop is part of a continuous process.
  • need more active approach towards participants
  • need more clarity about process & engagement options
  • brief authors that they can follow up with participants directly so there’s no bottleneck of moderators

Policy Kitchen

  • Policy Kitchen felt intuitive
  • Wasn’t so clear what the next steps were


Collaborative writing


  • better time management in advance, so that everyone knows how long the process will take
  • agile process
  • time frame: 1 year? maybe it would be possible in shorter time, 1/2 year. In favor of a shorter period, but the most important thing is to plan it in advance.
  • time got lost in the summer break
  • for some the delays were a problem, because they planned other things after the process
  • some participants are already working, some are students. Maybe take a academic year as time frame?
  • after the workshops: small milestones/little projects/shorter inputs: Infographics, key fact sheets, definitions and key challenge social media posts, mini summaries of the workshops, one think tank gives a brief presentation of the key points from its workshop to other ones
  • role of authors and criteria how to select the idea were not clear from the beginning. That took much time and was also a problem in the review process


  • a few participant were very involved in the beginning, but the core responsibility was with the think tank members
  • problem, that we didn't include the authors of the ideas enough. Authors of the ideas are also experts of the subjects (SRHR chapter worked with some authors of the ideas and had good experience with it
  • unclear how we select the subject: by interest? We MUST decide on if it is a report or a policy paper before we start writing.
More live discussions about cross-chapter alignment earlier on in the process
  • Start with an OTTN level discussion about definitions to use across the whole paper
  • Second workshops: helpful? Peace & Security: not very helpful. How to create groups? by interest or location/think tank? it's difficult to keep the group together

Review process

  • The handling of the review process needs to be clearer in terms of how/when/if the feedback needs to be integrated.
  • Review process: can be better without much effort. Some inputs were not very helpful and some review members were very critical/not very helpful (we're all volunteers) and it wasn't clear if this is a policy paper
  • one collected feedback/comment would be helpful
  • fewer reviews! would also shorten the process. Maybe a clear OpenTTN would solve this