The unprecedented Covid-19 Pandemic destroyed ‘business as usual’ for business of all sizes and in all contexts overnight. Adaptation to changes of this scale would normally be over the long-term and as a result of careful planning and testing. As soon as waves of international lockdowns were announced, GPG were aware that adaptation had to come as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Our model prior to the pandemic relied heavily on the provision of top-quality international experts to our projects globally, and therefore to a significant extent on travel. Abandoning our projects and their beneficiaries and riding out the lockdown until travel restrictions lifted was simply not an option – we immediately saw an intensification in requests for our support, especially from Parliaments grappling with the sudden challenge of themselves having to operate virtually. GPG therefore worked rapidly to put together a substantial and varied online offer to continue our programme work. This included, a custom-made sophisticated Learning Management System which would allow Project Managers and expert Associates to deliver content at distance; coupled with ongoing support to project beneficiaries, often in the form of online conferences and calls; and accompanied by an emphasis on the challenges at an institutional level brought about by the pandemic itself, highlighted in a series of blogs, papers, and on social media.
Find out more on this page about GPG’s adaptation to remote programme delivery.
GPG Learning Management System
Within the month of March and whilst the scale of the crisis and ensuing lockdowns remained unclear, GPG moved quickly to create a purpose-built online learning platform. This platform gave Project Managers the opportunity to continue to courses, materials, in-person sessions, and to shape content in the most engaging and effective way for in-country beneficiaries.
Watch this short video clip to see the platform in action:
Online courses are being rolled out for Political Parties in Lebanon, the Council of Representatives in Iraq, and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking in Sudan amongst others.
GPG Remote Support
GPG has held several online conference calls and virtual sessions with stakeholders in projects from Iraq to Sudan. In Sudan, as part of our work in supporting the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council in Sudan, the team were able to hold an exciting and successful virtual technical session with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (armed group alliance) in May, hosted by UNAMID. With various technical restrictions and embargoes in place in Sudan, the team are having to constantly innovate and test to allow high-quality access for all.
In June, GPG held our first ever Online Conference on ‘Establishing a Regional Approach to Human Trafficking and Forced Labour’. This event brought together expert speakers from Sudan, Bahrain, and the UK, including Dame Sara Thornton UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner; Her Excellency the Under Secretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Justice; Ausamah Al-Absi Chair of the Bahraini Labour Market Regulatory Authority; and GPG Associates and Former UK Ministers the Right Honourable Alistair Burt and Stephen Twigg. You can read the write-up of the event here and watch the recording of the event here.
It became instantly clear that Parliaments and governing institutions had a significant challenge ahead of them, in continuing their roles in scrutiny and oversight when they were more important than ever. GPG have led the way in assembling high-quality expertise and best practice on virtual parliaments. In May, we published a joint paper with the Asia Foundation on ‘Virtual Parliaments: Principles and Practice’ [simply click the link to read the paper].
In our ‘Parliamentary Responses to Crisis’ blog series, we have also collated a far-ranging series of perspectives on adaptations to remote governance, and longer and shorter-term primary and secondary effects of Covid. Discover the blog series here.
GPG’s rapidly-built and significant expertise and insight in this new field has been recognised by the Canadian Parliament’s Procedures Committee, who invited GPG Founder Greg Power and Executive Director Dr Sue Griffiths to give evidence on international lessons on virtual and hybrid parliaments.