Long – awaited Bridge Workshop comes to Brussels
14 December 2009
The 22 participants on the workshop were drawn from the ACE Regional Resources Centres (IFE, IED, UJRC, CENI and ACEEEO), the UNDP-EC Task Force, International IDEA, NEEDS Project, IOM and a few independent consultants nominated by the international agencies. Paul Guerin, Derick Fritz and Rushdi Nackerdien facilitated the workshop. The high demand for Train the Facilitator workshops resulted in the maximum number of participants for the workshop being reached very easily and other people being referred to another TtF workshop being run in Pretoria in late November.
Brussels is a busy city, hosting the EU Parliament and a range of other international agencies, and there is significant pressure on venues for high-level meetings. As such the workshop was moved between the two locations, one block apart, on different days. The use of both venues allowed for increased flexibility when faced with such unpredicted pressures. A meeting room at the UN House was the main venue for the training. As a meeting room, the venue had to be re-arranged to accommodate BRIDGE-style training. The NEEDS office in Brussels had a dedicated training room and served as an alternative venue, when the UN House venue was not available. The close proximity of the two venues to each other lent itself to easy changes when required and also resulted in major cost savings associated with the venue. It also increased the sense of ownership as both the UNDP-EC Task Force and IDEA (as consortium leader of NEEDS) shared the venue as well as logistical support.
As BRIDGE workshops are run, it is inevitable that some refinements are made. In this particular TtF workshop, it became clear that there is a thematic area on diversity, gender and cross-cultural communication that could be linked together. At present these elements stand slightly apart from each other and does not flow together on Day 2 of the workshop. This is an area of clear improvement that could help enhance future TtF workshops and ensure that none of these are reduced in time or “cut” due to time pressures.
The participants were all election professionals, many of whom had experience from having worked in multiple countries across the globe. Many had either been exposed to BRIDGE in other forms or had advocated its usage but never had a chance to run a BRIDGE workshop. It is foreseen that this TtF workshop will be an important springboard for more BRIDGE workshops to be run. Already plans have been discussed to run BRIDGE in the Portuguese-speaking world, as well as other specific interventions. The event stands as an important landmark event in the BRIDGE history, as its global multiplier effect is very clear.