The 9th BRIDGE Partner Committee Meeting (PCM) was held in Budapest, Hungary in June this year, alongside the ACEEEO 20th jubilee conference. It was the first opportunity since 2009 for the BRIDGE partners to come together to discuss the progress and the future of BRIDGE. It was also a chance to celebrate 10 years of BRIDGE, and to find out more about the new Democracy and Governance (DG BRIDGE) project.
All partners were represented at the workshop which was chaired by the AEC’s Deputy Electoral Commissioner, Paul Dacey. Also represented were staff from AusAID, who are primary funders of the DG BRIDGE project, and members of the DG BRIDGE project team.
The meeting opened with an acknowledgement of the achievements of the first ten years of BRIDGE, including the UN Public Service Award won by BRIDGE last year, the growth of the curriculum, the spread of BRIDGE workshops worldwide and the development of both ‘E’ (elections) BRIDGE and DG BRIDGE.
A discussion about the curriculum included thanks to IFES for their contribution to the development of the Political Financing module, published last year. There was also consideration of further review and development of some of the more popular modules such as Gender and Elections, Voter Registration and Media and Elections, and the possibility of developing a new module on Electoral Fraud.
Quality assurance was a topic of interest, particularly in terms of facilitators and evaluation of BRIDGE as a whole. Discussion centred around the need for more fully accredited facilitators and ensuring that both a robust process is in place to enable this and the quality of BRIDGE facilitators is maintained. An independent review of BRIDGE for evaluation and assessment purposes was also suggested.
DG BRIDGE was a focus of the meeting with this PCM the first opportunity for the partners to come together to discuss the initiative. The DG BRIDGE team and AusAID representatives provided an overview and the partners were supportive and positive about the progress and plans of the project. Discussion centred around how DG would work within the current partner agreement and the way forward for the management of the much expanded proposed program starting in 2012
In other areas, the partners outlined BRIDGE activities they have been involved in over the past two years and appreciation was shown to the development and growth of the BRIDGE website in supporting the BRIDGE community around the world.
At the end of the meeting the partners agreed on a series of actions and recommendations to follow up on the topics discussed.
The next PCM is proposed for 2012 and may include a BRIDGE practitioners meeting, as was held in Sydney in 2009.