ICCA Consortium 19th General Assembly - Global Governance with Loomio

• Written by Michael Elwood-Smith

Coordinating the governance of an organization that spans continents and time zones is no small feat. The ICCA Consortium, a prominent international association supporting the global movement for Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ collective territories of life, used Loomio in their General Assembly (GA), for the second year running.

240 unique participants from 70 countries participated in the ICCA Consortium’s 19th General Assembly, held over four sessions in as many months. The Assembly learned about key aspects of the work, took several important decisions for the association’s future, and voted to elect Council members.

Sarah Ryder, Operations Coordinator at the ICCA Consortium, explains, "Our Member organizations are spread right around the world, which means that it is impossible for us to hold GA sessions at a time to allow everyone to participate. Loomio facilitated the active participation of people unable to join the sessions because of time zone constraints."

The nomination thread title on loomio

“Membership had the opportunity to review Council nominations and draft reports and participate in discussions and building consensus, not only during the live online sessions, but also asynchronously ahead of the live sessions using Loomio. Providing different options for participation is particularly important for our global membership, with people spread across many time zones and using multiple languages.”

"We used Loomio a lot to communicate about reports that were submitted, Council elections, and major decisions that needed to be taken."

Sarah continues; “We used Loomio’s poll features to allow people to express their views in advance of the GA sessions and also for two weeks afterwards. The ‘votes’ cast in this way were included in our calculations on whether we had a quorum to support the decisions/elections.”

A redacted image of the ICCA election loomio proposal

“The General Assembly was a huge success. In total, we had 43 threads which shows how much we relied on Loomio to communicate with our membership, Secretariat and Council.”

“The translation function within Loomio was vital for us as we officially operate in 3 languages (English, Spanish and French), but folks speak a much wider range of languages than this.”

Since the beginning of the ICCA Consortium, the main decision-making processes have been based on building consensus. This approach is used in everyday governance and organizational discussions, including within the Council and Secretariat. Major decisions, such as revisions to Statutes and election of Council members, are taken by consensus of the General Assembly.

Colin Scott, Treasurer of the Council explains: “Consensus-based decision-making is rooted in the principles of civil and respectful participation and collective ownership of decisions. It requires open dialogue, trust, and lots of communication, and everyone should have the opportunity to share their views. It helps people establish a common understanding while respecting different values, needs and interests. It enables everyone to work together cooperatively and in good faith to develop a solution that is sufficiently acceptable for all.”

“It is understandable and expected that we will have diverse views within the association. Consensus-based decisions can be time-consuming and difficult at times, and not everyone will get every aspect of what they want. However, the final consensus should be something that everyone can live with in the collective interest of the association. This approach to decision-making is embedded in our organizational culture, particularly for major decisions that are taken by the General Assembly. So far, the General Assembly has never had to resort to a vote to decide on any issue.”

The proposal form with editable poll options

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