Action learning in the United Nations

I have just returned from Nairobi working in the UN for UN-Habitat having been selected as one of a pool of six development consultants from around the world to support the work of the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN).  I’m delighted to be working with Jean du Plessis, GLTN Capacity Development Expert,  who trained with ALA as an action learning facilitator.  Jean is currently a member of a virtual set that continues to meet after training with me in virtual action learning facilitation.

GLTN exists to ensure that urban and rural poor have access to land and security of tenure. One startling figure is that 70% of people in developing countries have no security when it comes to their homes and this figure is even greater in sub Saharan Africa. The pressure on land and the impact on poor people is creating a growing problem. GLTN works at various levels finding practical solutions through knowledge management, advocacy, tool development and building institutional capacity.

GLTN has developed a range of “land tools” which are practical ways to solve problems in land management and administration. They can range from a simple checklist to ensure women’s rights are included to the innovative development of open source software which can be used at neighbourhood level to map and record people’s use of land and property thus ensuring that their rights can be documented and maintained.

GLTN has been incredibly successful since it was set up in 2006. Action learning is seen as a key part of the strategy for the period ahead. The team has moved away from training initiatives which are well received but may have little long term impact to always following a good practice learning cycle which can be be scaled up – making the shift towards a more integrated capacity development strategy.

GLTN sees that action learning can be a powerful tool for creating effective learning across disciplines where new solutions need to be developed. It can be a way to support the transfer of learning to ensure maximum impact. It can create effective networks where people can engage at a deep level of learning to understand what they are each doing and how to tackle the greatest challenges. It can support the GLTN team and partner organisations in developing reflective practice and focusing their energies on the catalytic.

I will be working with GLTN on specific assignments between now and October 2015. I see this as an exciting opportunity to use action learning to tackle a global challenge and find solutions that work at local, regional and global levels.


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