Sometimes – unlike people working in international development projects overseas – we are working without clearly established principles. Having clear principles can help guide us in our decision-making, and stop us from inadvertently doing things that work against our long term goals.

Over the last decade or so, civil society organizations from all across the world have worked on a set of principles to guide development effectiveness, called the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness. Many of our organizations are now working to adopt these principles for their own development practice.

It is an important exercise to think about how these principles might impact our practice of public engagement. Take time to consider how your organization’s public engagement activities reflect internationally accepted principles of development effectiveness.

Some of these principles might be challenging for our practice of public engagement. For example, the principle “Practice Transparency and Accountability” is not often considered in the work of public engagement. To whom are we accountable in our public engagement work? To our donors? To our Southern partners? To our target audiences? Where in the planning process of public engagement can we consider our values and principles?