Andrew Lees Trust’s GroundSwell Vision

2015 - 2020

The GroundSwell vision reflects the Trust’s strategic focus on nurturing local autonomy, leadership, and capabilities and supporting locally prioritized agendas. GroundSwell is predicated on the belief that sustainable development and effective humanitarian action can only be achieved through local ownership, a strong and vibrant civil society leading locally designed and implemented actions, and improved local governance.

For the Trust, local ownership means the inalienable right of local citizens and civil society to determine local social, environmental and humanitarian agendas; to deliver those agendas and change in ways appropriate to their social frameworks and cultural systems; to promote governance that supports local aspirations in equitable, transparent and accountable ways; and to have a voice and a seat at the table for policy and strategic decision making.

It also means, as far as possible, to address the current funding paradigm that risks undermining the growth and leadership of local civil society and national NGOs in the global south. In particular, GroundSwell aims to de-couple decision-making power from funding, so that local actors determine the need and use of funds towards achieving their own goals – instead of being restricted by northern donors’ agendas, north-south partner inequalities and the sector’s managerialist constraints. As such, it embraces an evolutionary approach, framed by commitments to social and environmental justice, reflective practice, mutual learning, and open relationships.


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The Trust recognises that local communities, NGOs civil society organisations (CSOs) and agents for change are specialists in their local context, as such they are best placed to lead and sustain social and environmental change. However, they may want and seek access to supports, mentoring and technical knowledge from others who can listen, respectfully share and exchange expertise, resources and tools that help them deliver their actions.

Accompaniment and assistance is designed to respond to communities and civil society actors' requests for support, be shaped for and by the local context and the local actors. This includes South-to-South mentoring and exchange, technical training and support, capacity building, sustainability strategies, and advice through periods and processes of change.



The Trust also advocates and supports activity that serves the GroundSwell vision, for example transparency initiatives that promote the rights of local communities, CSOs, and local producers, and ensure they have a more level playing field on which to engage in economic activity, protect their livelihoods, resources and natural environment. This includes undertaking research and advocacy that brings to light infringements to their human rights to a safe environment, to food security and safe drinking water.



The Trust is grateful to the Aldama Foundation for supporting the GroundSwell vision.