16 Jul - 31 Jul 2020

Join the discussion: Co-Initiation

SparkBlue • 16 July 2020

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With tectonic shifts and global disruptions, the world is experiencing a profound crisis, and although its reach is global, the effects are differential, severely impacting the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

Even before COVID19, the world was not on track to meet the collective ambition of the 2030 Agenda, and the weaknesses in our economic and social systems are magnified through the pandemic. The pandemic could push hundreds of millions into unemployment and poverty while increasing the number at risk of acute hunger by more than 250 million.

Tackling poverty, inequality, and the climate crisis requires shifting mindsets to catalyse collective action with the potential to transform development trajectories.


You are invited to join this discussion to share your thoughts and reflections.

We look forward to your contributions and to starting this journey with you.

Journaling Questions from Session 3: For some inspiration you might consider reflecting on the journaling questions from our 3rd dialogue session:

  1. When first joining the UN, what highest future potential did you sense back then for yourself and for the UN?
  2. Best collaboration experience: Name a story when you felt a UN collaborative effort/initiative operating at its highest.
  3. Enabling conditions: What enabled this collaborative effort to be so effective?
  4. What in your current work and life frustrates you the most?
  5. Helicopter view self: What are you currently trying to do?
  6. Footprint: What footprint do you want to leave behind
  7. If the UN were a living being that could speak, what would it say to you now?
  8. Over the past few weeks and months, what clarified for you what you need to let go of (personally, UN)?
  9. Over the past few weeks and months, what clarified for you that should have your highest attention moving forward (personally, UN)
  10. Imagine you ARE in the year 2030 and the decade of transformation that started in 2020 had been profoundly successful. Picture yourself in a concrete context of change that matters to you – and share a 2 or 3 point story that highlights the key turning points and breakthroughs that allowed you to getting there.
  11. Key insights: who are the key stakeholders that we need if connected with in different ways, could help us to shift the system similar to the 2030 scenario story example.

Dialogue Series:

Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, Otto Scharmer and the MIT Presencing Institute have led an impromptu global infrastructure for sensemaking, leaning into the current moment of disruption towards civilizational renewal. The GAIA journey stands for Global Activation of Intention and Action and has engaged thousands of people in an online learning journey, raising global awareness for collective action.

Our summer dialogue series will build on the GAIA experience. Each seminar session will include intellectual input and framing from thought leaders, mindfulness moments, action learning, deep listening in small circles along with shared group reflection within a global community.

The four seminars and the strategic session that will follow represent a learning journey that explores methods and innovative tools for deep system change, towards an institutional collaboration with MIT Presencing Institute to co-design and sustain a transformation architecture within the UN system.



Comments (16)

Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper Moderator

We had an inspiring session on July 16th. 

Otto, Mar, Kelvy and the 200 participants who joined from all across the globe all joined in  learning about systems transformation and Theory U.

This revolves around a process of co-sensing and co-shaping emerging future possibilities. The process of how we get from 'here' our current reality to 'there' an emerging future inspired by our highest potential, will be explored in the dialogue series as it continues.

If you attended, what resonated for you? What were your answers to some of the deep questions we considered? 

Do you feel the wall collapsing between system and self (see the vertical pillar in the centre of Kelvy's scribing, above)?

Make your contributions below and let's continue the discussion until we next meet on July 30th.

Over the course of the next sessions, we'll examine methods and tools for co-sensing, presencing and co-creating, building our global community and capacity as leaders to effect change in our contexts, collapsing the wall between system and self. As Otto said, “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Sudarshan Rodriguez
Sudarshan Rodriguez

A Systems delivers whats its  designed for. 

We need to make universal values   explicit in our systems , designs and goals. Secondly its about praxis and embodying  change and the universal values  i stand for and demystify and democratize leadership work

Dr. Monica Sharma former Director at UNDP  created and uses a unique response model based on extensive application -- a conscious full-spectrum response model -- which simultaneously solves problems, shifts systems, and creates new patterns sourced from individual inner capacity and transformational leadership.

It is a transdisciplinary template for strategic action, robust enough to hold the frameworks of different disciplines and various schools of thought, retaining the needed rigor of excellence






Juergen Nagler
Juergen Nagler Moderator

Do you have any reflections or suggestions for this dialogue series? Share your insights or relevant resources...

As Otto stated: “Whenever an economic paradigm is unable to provide useful answers to a period’s biggest challenges, society will enter a transitional period in which… it replaces the existing logic and operating system with an updated and better one.”

Therefore, I am intrigued about the role of paradigms and mindsets. Hopefully, you'd find this article interesting that I wrote for the International Science Council and UNDP HDRO on Rethinking Development: https://medium.com/@NaglerUNDP/we-become-what-we-think-%C2%B9-the-key-role-of-mindsets-in-human-development-7488b5b1437a

Would love to hear your feedback.

Sudarshan Rodriguez
Sudarshan Rodriguez

Dear Juergen

I love what you have put down on mindsets at the end

The conventional way how we interrupt or intervene is very limited   do not hold intersectionality  for eg. Whats the point of gender work and changes when the same men and women  do not sit together with others castes and religions

Or whats the point of women SHGs and financial empowerment if they spend the money on child marriage and dowry

You are right! Measurement is a core strategy for  a paradigm shift.


.Here are some questions we can ask for transforming today’s challenges with existing and new metrics.

  • Do we have proxy measures to see when universal values form the basis of policies, decisions, and strategies ?
  • How can we track the presence of ethical leadership and stewardship?
  • What resources—human, social, natural, and physical—can we pass onto future generations?

I think  transforming our mindset based on universal values that include everyone, everywhere, with the explicit agenda of manifesting our fullpotential and innate attributes is criitcal

There is a whole section of attributes of mindset and paradigm shift in Monica Sharma. Radical transformational leadership: Strategic Action for Change Agents. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books; 2017. 

  • Pages 219 Interrupting Exclusinary isms ( on mindsets and intersectionality)
  • Page 81 Being the Paradigm Shifters -( describes key attributes  of leaders who are paradigm shifters )

I look forward to the book on  Study on the Role of Mindsets for Human Development and Wellbeing

Look forward to the session

Take care and stay safe


Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper Moderator

Juergen Nagler, inspiring article thank you! The Green Commodities Programme uses Donella Meadows' systems thinking a lot in our work on Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration For Systemic Change. We are fortunate to work with a graphic artist, Carlotta Cataldi, who studied Donella for her Masters dissertation, and she redrew one of her original diagrams for us - shows just how much leverage mindsets (no. 2) have compared to other interventions further down the seesaw slope:

Donella Meadows Leverage Points

Sudarshan Rodriguez
Sudarshan Rodriguez

Simon Cooper Thanks for sharing the image . I love and use this leverage points in strategies and criteria for my projects

Sudarshan Rodriguez
Sudarshan Rodriguez

Hi all

Personal transformation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for social or planetary transformation. When I simultaneously ache to see tangible results and act to manifest my greatness, I will generate social and planetary transformation. I also need to design for paradigm shifts and transformation

Today a set of templates, tools, and techniques now exists to support us in discovering and activating our inner greatness and compassion; transform culture and systems; and act to create change and generate results toward a paradigm shift. These are set  practices set us up for the alchemy of a paradigm shift and transformation.  It sources our oneness for strategic action and developing the ability to use transformational design templates for a paradigm shift.



Rethinking the Development Model

I think we need to rethink the development model . I  have found  conscious full-spectrum response (CFSR) Model (Monica Sharma. Radical transformational leadership: Strategic Action for Change Agents. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books; 2017)  as a tool to design projects programmes and development that make a difference. This design template intertwines three threads of the triple helix of a paradigm shift: (a) source our wisdom/inner capacities and universal values for action; (b) shift cultural norms, systems, and structures that maintain the status quo and become principled game changers; and (c) solve problems in order to generate specific equitable and sustainable results

SDGs require a transdisciplinary template  at scale. What is unique  is that is that the CFSR model

·       Is a transdisciplinary template for strategic action and

·       is robust enough to hold the frameworks of different disciplines, various schools of thought or

·      is subject agnostic and therefore can applied across verticals and functions in an organization 

Hence it leverages a transdisciplinarity NOT  just only within  a  SDG but also across all the SDGs with transformative results and impact. It hence also creates alignment and synergy when ones uses the CFSR  model in the context of SDGs.

It can generate immediate and long term results at scale in limited fruition time


The Prosperity Fractal

The  CSFR model is a prosperity fractal repeats the pattern—it is the simplest of everyday actions as well as gigantic endeavours and enterprises. The pattern of the each entity , project or person in the constellation using CFSR  is a fractal that repeats itself. When the pattern is repeated in its unique and numerous applications, it generates a new field for a paradigm shift.

Just some thoughts .Happy to hear from the others

Sophia Robele
Sophia Robele

I just finished watching the last two webinars. Since the framework that Otto presented invites us to collectively embrace feeling as a mode of embodied knowledge and understanding, I’d like to start by just expressing my immediate emotional response to this conversation: In the 5+ years of my time in the UN, I don’t think I have ever felt so at home with, held by, and in some ways, even ‘seen’ by a webinar. In fact, to see this particular conversation not only brought into UNDP but so widely and wholeheartedly embraced by so many participants might actually be the proudest I have felt to be a part of this organization, and truly reaffirmed in my choice to pursue a career in it in the first place. This may sound like an extreme statement in response to something as seemingly simple as a discussion that infused the language of the heart and spirit into conversations about societal transformation, but in considering the underlying paradigms from which our world largely operates, and from which the field of international development operates, the willingness to truly acknowledge and act upon the connection between the spiritual and the material in what we do is something I consider to be a revolutionary act. For that, I just want to sincerely thank Laurel Patterson  and the team for bringing this initiative to UNDP.

There is also such a profound beauty in encountering experiences where someone brings new language to articulate what it is you have always felt – ultimately granting a form and shape to the invisible and in that, offering a bridge for its open existence in the spaces within which you operate. Inasmuch as I love the mission and vision of UNDP and the people who strive to achieve it, I have always felt that UNDP (and virtually every other space concerned with social and economic development that I have participated in, both professional and academic) rarely allow us the opportunity to bring our full selves into the work. When we work on major societal issues that reveal the brokenness of our systems, and yet fail to address the spiritual nature of the brokenness and the interior aspects of ourselves as agents of change, of the people whom we strive to serve, or of the individuals who constitute the broken systems, we create a kind of fragmentation that is deeply destructive on so many levels. At the broadest scale, as Otto beautiful articulated, this fragmentation is evident in the interconnected forms of violence we witness in our societies. On an individual level, this fragmentation prevents us from accessing and sharing the full wellsprings of our potential that is the foundation for any transformation.

As James Baldwin has said of the American people, I think it is also apt to describe much of the international development community as “illiterate in the language of the heart.” In my own way, I have attempted to break through this illiteracy in a number of spaces, but have always done so with a consciousness of what is permissible – a consciousness that has generally led me to either suppress my true thoughts and feelings or somehow fit them into modes of language grounded in dominant socioeconomic and political paradigms that ultimately deprive the ideas of their true essence. Often, the permissible equates to what is concrete, visible, measurable, and evidence-based, as based on a logic of ‘evidence’ and metrics of ‘progress’ that hold to an illusion of objectivity, rationality and universality. It is not necessarily that the development world denies the relevance of elements related to the spiritual/human/relational aspects at the heart of the systemic challenges, but that it largely operates according to an unspoken consensus that this work of grappling with the invisible interior forces that drive us is beyond the purview of its mandate – a mandate that promises visible change within a set timeframe (and defines the long-term vision according to 15-20 year timeframes at most). A mandate that does not allow space for engaging with that which is truly complex, unpredictable, and impossible to quantify – the real root cause of everything which we are dealing with: who we are to ourselves and one another. When we operate within this architecture that was constructed in such a way so as to help us avoid, as Rilke put it, “the most strange, the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter,” we fall into patterns that lead to an atrophying of our senses. I love that Otto articulated the consequences of this kind of collective atrophy that is fueled by the dichotomous relationships we institute between our minds, hearts, and hands.

It is against this backdrop that I felt such a deep sense of liberation to even simply see the word ‘spiritual’ displayed on a UNDP webinar screen, including as a way of categorizing SDGs 16 and 17 (which I had also interpreted as spiritual SDGs), or to see the word ‘heart’ included in a diagram essentially elaborating a profoundly honest theory of change for how we address the world’s wicked problems. I have always spoken of the work of UNDP as spiritual work, both in terms of my own internal orientation to it as well as in the way I convey it to those around me, but have generally only done so outside of the actual spaces where I do the work. Confronted with the limits of the rhetoric of my surroundings, I at some point subconsciously accepted that the work of the UN is most concerned with driving material progress and remedying the symptoms of global issues, which has real import in terms of of reducing the scale of direct and structural violence in the immediate term and so is necessary to support, but that I would only ever be able to contribute to the ‘real work’ of social transformation – the work of addressing the actual ‘root causes’ of our economic, political, and environmental problems with a telescopic view of time – in the spaces whose approach to change acknowledged the full reality of what it means to be spiritual beings and used this understanding as a basis for collective action. These webinars felt like a permission to take down a piece of the wall through which I navigate between the two worlds – to actually speak a language within my professional sphere that is in alignment with what I value and know to be true about how real change happens – and that I perhaps underestimated the willingness of UNDP, as an institution as well as a collection of individuals, to push against the dominant development culture, theories, and discourse that keep us stuck in superficial notions of change (albeit notions of change firmly grounded in a much broader, deeply entrenched architecture of funding structures and governance systems that do not actually serve the realities in which we live).

I am also sharing my own sense of permission and invitation experienced in response to the webinars to underline something that is so critical to this discourse: the role of language and conceptual frameworks in defining what it is possible and making space for it in our work. The language of the development world is one of frameworks, indicators, theories of change, strategies, and interventions. While there is value in broadening our rhetoric to encompass new forms of thought, there is equally a value in infusing our existing language and modes of operating with the concepts and approaches that remain excluded precisely because of their intangibility. As you well articulate in your article, Juergen Nagler , we create divisions between “hard” and “soft” factors of human development, which then become the basis for where we invest our money, attention, and accountability. Dimensions such as the strength of our ties to one another within and across communities, the perceptions we hold about our interconnectedness, the capacity for vulnerability, introspection, openness, and love that we foster through our formal education structures, or the level of dignity we confer upon people through the political and economic measures we leverage – dimensions that are inherently abstract, vast, and subjective – are deemed as “soft” not because they matter less, but because they are challenging for us to measure. And yet, we have a tendency to conflate the ‘softness’ of the medium with the concreteness of their implications in our societies and policies. There is nothing soft about concepts like love and unity. While we seem to easily grasp the weight of these principles in our personal lives, the collective devaluation of them in our public life is evident in all of the violence – physical, psychological, structural , etc. – that is perpetuated by their absence. That we have lost sight of these ‘human’ dimensions in the work of international development or public policy can even be seen in the fact that ‘human/people-centered’ approaches to development have come to exist as a category in the first place (i.e. that we need to advocate for a focus on something that should already be implicit in and central to everything we do).

There is an incredible power in providing a framework for the abstract. But it demands a form of collective imagination that we have yet to embrace, and perhaps lack the common language to even articulate. It requires thinking beyond the confines of the assumptions that dictate how we currently define the indicators, interventions, end goals, and timelines for our work. What would it look like, for instance, to assess our work against spiritually-based indicators (i.e. indicators that would make us accountable not to a set of quantitative outcomes, but to the cultivation of spiritual qualities such as justice, equity, love, unity, trustworthiness, etc. in communities as well as the institutions mandated to serve them)? What would it look like if these spiritual qualities likewise explicitly formed the basis for the consultative processes by which we developed the indicators, or programmes, or policies? This also requires us to consistently question the ‘spiritual’ concepts that we already use in our work and where and how we apply them – for instance, when we speak of improving human well-being or enhancing freedoms in our reports and strategies, how are we actually defining these concepts? (I like that in your article Juergen, you point out that Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index is “not to be confused with a shallow understanding of fleeting happiness.”)

Another major implication of establishing frameworks that translate spiritual concepts into forms that we are able to measure and tie to the ‘material’ aspects of our work (e.g. how budgets are allocated) is that they articulate the role (and responsibility) of institutions in spheres of action that relate to our inner worlds. By even merely suggesting that there is a place for the intangible within our tangible efforts, the existence of such frameworks negate the compartmentalized modes of logic that suggest that anything which deals with the emotions, human relationships, or other intangibles is the private work of individuals and therefore has no place in the results-focused interventions of a development organization or government. Institutions cannot force people to love each other. But institutions can create “architectures of connection.” Institutions cannot engineer compassion or manufacture trust between people. But they can create policies that remove some of the material inequalities that reinforce systems of oppression and divisiveness, or develop school systems that prioritize the spiritual empowerment of young people and foster a new collective consciousness.

I have been on somewhat of a personal mission over the last few years to identify in UNDP and other development contexts instances of our wholeness as human beings and the inextricable link between the internal and external actually operationalized, or at the very least acknowledged, in the work. My running list includes a fairly limited yet broad mix of examples, ranging from: some of the rhetoric and conceptual approaches that UNDP employs around systems change, strategic foresight, co-creation, experimentation, and some other ‘innovation’ concepts to reformulate stakeholders’ understanding of and relationship to complexity; to the work of countries like Bhutan and New Zealand in defining national frameworks for development and models for decision-making based on holistic notions of human well-being; to the words of a former SG that reside on a plaque in front of the UN HQ Meditation Room acknowledging the importance of connecting the mandate of the UN to the importance of introspection, stating, "We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.” In my slowly growing list, I am encouraged by evidences of a broadening recognition of our blind spots, and in some cases, a gradual, committed effort to give voice to true ‘integration’ in our methods and approaches.

It is likewise motivating to see the work of researchers attempting to sharpen and amplify this voice – such as the Presencing Institute and Perspectiva (another interesting research platform with an aim to understand how systems, souls and society interrelate) – and UNDP’s willingness to collaborate with thought leaders that embody more holistic paradigms. I look forward to seeing how we will leverage the opportunities presented by the current moment – including the heightened attention on racial injustice and the ways that it has illuminated the blind spots in UNDP – to recognize and dismantle our current ‘architectures of separation.’

Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper Moderator

Welcome to all moved by the 30th July Awareness Based Collective Action Gathering to contribute to this conversation! What resonated most with you? 

Benny Oyama
Benny Oyama

Greetings Earthlings,

It was an honor serving with my music during the first dialogue in collaboration with this movement towards the true and beautfiul.  I feel called to tell the story of our global pandemic shift through song.  Here is a song I wrote celebrating the rise of the feminine in the world. 

My song is called "The Day She Began to Fly".  


The Day She Began To Fly

Below are some links to my digital presence.  Please feel free to follow the trail, reach out and listen to my work.


All the best,

Benny Oyama

Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE


Stockholm+50 est une très bonne initiative pour une planète saine

La création des emplois verts et la promotion d'une économie circulaire.

Faire en sorte que le Mali pusse tirer partie de Stockholm+50

Pousser nos dirigeants à d'engager pour une planète saine , decarbonnée, 

Amener les populations maliennes à intégrer la dynamique de stockholm+50

Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE

Bon vent à Stockholm +50 pour une planète saine, post covid19 et l'atteinte des ODD.

Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE

Dialogue 1:

Il faut des modes de production et de consommation durable pour une planète

Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE

Dialogue 2 : 

La covid 19 a impacté sur nos modes de vie .

Nos économies ont été impactées.


Il faut un plan de riposte post covid tenant en compte les questions d'environnement et de changement climatique.

Cela avec l'appui de la communauté internationale comme dans le cadre l'initiative COVAX.

Le Mali est un pays subissant de plein feu une crise sécuritaire.


Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE

Dialogue 3: Le Mali est sur le point de rédiger son deuxième rapport volontaire de mise en oeuvre des ODD,

Il s'agira de créer des synergies entre le processus VNR et Stockholm +50.

La décennie d'action de mise en oeuvre des ODD est un cap à ne pas rater.


Diakaridia KAMATE
Diakaridia KAMATE

Pays sahelo saharien le Mali connaît les afres du changement climatique avec l'ensablement des cours d'eaux, la déforestation, les défrichements, la disparition de certaines espèces fauniques... la question de l'environnent est une priorité.

Cette priorité est prise en compte dans le CREDD, au niveau de l'axe 4.

Le défi réside dans le changement de comportement et l'allocation budgétaire pour le secteur.


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