The ADELANTE Programme aimed to provide evidence in support of triangular cooperation, while demonstrating that this international cooperation modality is a relevant collaborative tool in addressing development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2016 the Programme has harnessed valuable knowledge that must now be analysed and shared in a systematic and user-friendly format to aid in achieving this goal. Targets 17.6 and 17.16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the core of the ADELANTE knowledge bank, as an instrument that will assist the international development community in enhancing knowledge-sharing through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Towards a Solution
ADELANTE is the European Union flagship programme on triangular cooperation, launched in 2015 with a budget of over 10 million euros. Its mission is to foster horizontal relations between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and those in Europe, while encouraging them to exchange knowledge and take advantage of their partners’ capacities to promote sustainable development in the region. The European Commission launched a call for proposals and co-financed eight projects that involve 54 organizations from 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as several European institutions.
The eight triangular cooperation ADELANTE projects target various issues and countries, with the participation of all types of actors. These projects have contributed significantly to the region's sustainable development and have generated valuable sectoral and cross-cutting learning. The eight projects contribute directly to 9 SDGs and 27 targets. Significant contributions have been made to SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Notable contributions have also been made to SDG 1 on poverty, SDG 10 on reduced inequalities and SDG 17 on partnerships, which are pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and cornerstones of the ADELANTE Programme. Special attention is also paid to SDG 5 on gender equality.
All stakeholders worked together to collect, analyse and share the knowledge harnessed during the four years of the ADELANTE Programme in a systematic and user-friendly format. An online repository with 28 components was created in order to share evidence of the added value, success stories and lessons learned from triangular cooperation initiatives to address organizational, sectoral and development challenges.
The joint exercise was structured around a knowledge management methodology that had been applied in previous development cooperation contexts. The Programme engaged a team of European and Latin American knowledge management experts to help guide the process and make the necessary methodological adaptations to reflect the triangular nature of the Programme and its projects. These included variables to assess learning in terms of increasing flexibility, building successful partnerships or sharing knowledge and solutions.
Using this methodology, the Programme identified three types of knowledge: success stories, best practices and lessons learned.
Success stories are 'ways of doing' that have generated positive results and could be replicated in other projects to achieve the same results. These pieces of knowledge offer a summary of the case, including objectives, impacts, the critical success factors and the added value for a triangular cooperation approach.
Best practices are reports on achievements that highlight the critical success factors necessary to achieve them. In all cases, these practices could inspire other projects during the identification and formulation phases.
Lessons learned are experiences about events that occurred during the development of a project that were useful in its dissemination and reuse. The lessons from ADELANTE projects surfaced during their implementation but provide valuable data to consider throughout the project cycle.
The ADELANTE Programme management team launched this initiative; provided the methodology; and edited, consolidated and published the Knowledge Bank. However, the project coordinators and partners took charge of identifying, analysing and systematizing the knowledge that originated from their projects. As such, the Knowledge Bank comprises 28 records that highlight interesting elements that are important to the success of a project, such as:
- Promoting collaborative planning, identification and formulation of projects and providing grounds to foster continued discussion among partners for the duration of the project.
- Understanding the particularities of triangular cooperation, jointly creating suitable methodologies and procedures during the identification and planning phases and applying them throughout the project’s execution.
- Orienting these methodologies and procedures to the exchange of knowledge so that all actors may capitalize on it, from partners to final beneficiaries.
- Ensuring that these methodologies and procedures strive to influence public policies, favouring participation and dialogue with senior policymakers and decision makers in relevant institutions.
- Adapting these methodologies and procedures to the context of each country (political, legal, administrative and sectoral), with the possibility of building frameworks for differentiated results.
- Allowing for sufficient flexibility and adaptation margins so that innovative elements may be introduced and have a strong impact throughout the execution of the project.
By identifying, analysing and systematizing this knowledge, project coordinators were able to understand the processes and decisions made in a particular context and draw valuable lessons. This exercise allowed for reflections that will undoubtedly contribute to improving the design and implementation of future triangular cooperation initiatives. It also enhanced the abilities of project coordinators and their partners in managing knowledge, which directly contributed to strengthening public institutions in the region.
The ADELANTE Knowledge Bank is a tool that is publicly available to all interested parties on the ADELANTE website and Capacity4dev, the knowledge-sharing platform of the European Union.