Buy-In, Not Buzzwords

Here’s my thinking: When I reflect upon the many conversations that I have had with decision-makers in my resilience-building project, it was eventually all about the trusting relationship that we built over time. That trust was the determining factor for the buy-in and success of initiatives, not the conceptual framework itself (“the nexus for resilience,” in my case). So I find myself somewhat frustrated by the rhetoric on the circular economy, as I know from my own personal and professional experience that the concept itself is not problematic. Rather, perhaps we are missing a trick by focusing on the terminology. What do I mean? I mean that, in truth and in fact, the real challenge is about getting the relevant decision-makers to trust you enough to work with you (and your donors and other principals) in a particular intervention for common developmental good. To achieve this, what is often needed is not another approach or conceptual framework, but more of an investment in developing the requisite negotiation, leadership, and influencing skills that will effect sustained behavioral change.

The circular economy is, and has always been, how marginalized societies have had to view their interactions with the resources available to them through their environment for their survival — it is a natural reality for them. What the marginalized are looking for from us, the development practitioners, is perhaps less re-definition of the plight of the marginalized, and more catalyzing of action — whatever your term is for that action — that will move their reality toward a sustained improvement in the quality of their lives.