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Published: May 16, 2023

Harnessing Collective Insights for Improved SRM

By: Tara Arthur

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The Global Interagency Security Forum (GISF) forum is a crucial moment in the calendar of NGO security professionals. It allows the day-to-day routine to pause while participants convene in an impactful space full of thinkers, encouraging reflection on the critical issues of the day and beyond. How often do you get to pause, reflect, learn, and collaborate? These moments are the ones that solidify good practice in security risk management (SRM). The peers you meet may help you navigate a critical seat on an evacuation flight or share a crucial piece of security incident information. Wherever you are in your SRM journey, attending the GISF forum can be transformative, encouraging, and memorable.

From content to collaboration, the 2023 GISF Spring Forums in Ottawa and Eschborn were filled with dynamic discussions. Across over 10 sessions, participants dove into the latest debates on HEAT training, the role of climate change in shaping security risks for aid workers, the underpinnings of where security sits within organizational structures, an inside look at Colombia’s unique context, and our invaluable member-led case studies. Exclusive to our membership, the case studies shared in Ottawa and Eschborn, among others from years past, are a favorite due to the critical lessons and insights into the experiences, challenges, and learnings of peers in the sector they share. For some members, the case study is a highlight and one of the core reasons to attend.

This spring, we also decided to use our forum as an opportunity for an ever-important deep look at current crisis management practices. The focus on crisis management included a review of the new ISO standard for Crisis Management and the launch of GISF’s latest member benefit, access to the Conducttr hosted GISF Exercise Platform (GEP). The GEP is a new tool enabling members to run immersive crisis management exercises on an adaptable interactive platform. We plan to carry forward the core theme of crisis management into some of our upcoming regional initiatives, such as a workshop on crisis management in Colombia this July.

In addition to discussing critical trends and events in the sector, several members use the forum to convene with one another. This has proven an excellent opportunity for individual organizations and other collaborative networks or thematic groups to come together and leverage the learnings and opportunity to network. We hope members continue to utilize this time to strengthen their relationship with their peers and encourage members to reach out for any support with setting up this type of gathering.

“This forum has continued to highlight the importance of peer-to-peer connection between members. As the Projects and Membership Officer, it was great to see members, old and new, connecting, and hear such positive feedback on how we respond to needs identified by members” – Megan Hooson, GISF’s Project and Membership Officer EU.

Many of the topics and discussions held at the forum are also informing some of our member services, including exclusive member access materials, events, and more. Based on the regular feedback we receive from our members, we are constantly evolving to ensure that we continue to address ever-changing challenges facing security professionals in our sector. For example, we have recently launched a new webpage dedicated to showing all the benefits you can receive as a GISF member, as well as a page introducing you to our Steering Group and Americas Steering Committee.

While our forums are an exclusive opportunity for our members to strengthen their SRM practices and networks, we want to stress that it’s not just member feedback that we consider. GISF strives to be a center of excellence for all who wish to deepen their knowledge on NGO security, and therefore we seek to collaborate with different stakeholders to not only inform our work but to advance the sector as a whole. We hope our member engagement amplifies good practices for the NGO sector and influences colleagues beyond.  We know too well that without breaking down silos between the work of security teams and other colleagues across the sector, challenges to the security of staff and programs may not be overcome. Our collective understanding can improve and strengthen each other, which shows in our collaborations with our business partners, affiliates, peer networks, and other experts across the sectors.

To foster this collective understanding, we host a plethora of resources on GISF’s website that enable users to improve their SRM practices. There are many open-access resources, from training to technical recommendations. In our member-only area, we continue to offer dedicated and exclusive content including research, templates, benchmarking, notes, online-chat, collaborations, workshops, trainings, and access to support from our range of business partners.

For us at GISF, we all grow best together. Take a moment to contact us and tell us about your challenges and success or explore something new from our services. Let’s continue to harness our collective insights for improved SRM. We’re looking forward to seeing our members again at our 2023 Autumn Forum and continuing to expand the wisdom of the sector through peer learning. More information on the next forum will be shared directly with members soon!


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