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The Value of Integral Collaboration

As the Integral Annual Report for 2020 is published, Ian McInnes, Chair of the Integral Board, shares his reflections about the global challenges of the past year and how valuable Integral collaboration has been …

Ian McInnes, Chair of the Integral Board

2020 has been a year like no other, how has collaboration through Integral made a difference to your work this year?
In a year where physical access to communities and partnerships has been curtailed, the Integral Alliance has found wonderful ways to keep humanitarian work coordinated. I think the Alliance has helped each of our agencies to navigate the complexities of a world facing a pandemic. New Zealand certainly would have felt like a more isolated place without that.

In relation to your role as CEO of Tearfund New Zealand – how has Integral benefitted your organisation overall?
It’s been tremendously helpful as a CEO to be able to talk with colleagues around the world in the same situation as me. This has been enabled by technology and quick work of the Secretariat. There is a strength in numbers and in sharing the burden, receiving prayer, and looking at the challenges together.

Also, with the Alliance well and truly intact in this unstable season, we have been helped at Tearfund NZ to stay abreast of global disasters and find those programmes which we feel we are most able to support financially.  

The learning and reflections on localisation have been very helpful; like holding a mirror up for us as we consider how power and influence and genuine partnership with field Partners takes place.    

It is fifteen years since Integral was launched, do we still need the Integral Alliance, and if so, why?
The Integral Alliance is needed today more than ever before in our fifteen-year history! This broad family of agencies, together with their local Partner networks, provide unprecedented access when it comes to responding to disasters. With more refugees than ever before, and humanitarian need only increasing under pandemic conditions, the work of the Alliance is crucial in plugging the gap between humanitarian rhetoric, or intention, and actual on-the-ground response.  

A Christian disaster alliance that puts people first, with a strong emphasis on dignity and integrity is a necessary part of helping mobilise and organise faith communities and churches in times of disaster.  Coupled with the machinery that the Integral Alliance has built for coordinating quickly and at scale, this makes for a powerful and effective combination.           

As chair of Integral, what has been some highlights, and the greatest challenge?
A highlight for me as been seeing the Alliance tackle some of the hardest subjects yet, like how to mobilise interest and action on neglected crisis. By definition that’s not easy, yet the membership has deemed it to be important and worth of serious time and effort in the interest of helping those myriad by conflict or tragedy and whom the world ordinarily passes by.

A challenge has been not being able to connect as Chair, and a fellow CEO with other CEOs and the Secretariat team in person.  While that’s good for carbon reductions (and less jet lag), it does mean we all have to work harder at maintaining relationships that would so naturally be strengthened by being able to meet in person.

Looking forward to 2021 what is your main hope/prayer for the work of Integral?
My hope and prayer is that we “do not grow weary in doing good” – as the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians.  It will be some time before poor and middle-income countries have got on top of COVID-19 and we must not tire now! That effort will no doubt be extraordinarily taxing at times, and we need to look heavenward to the God who supplies both our needs and those whom we serve on daily basis.

What inspires you most about Integral?
I am inspired by the interest that has been shown by other agencies and alliances in Integral. It’s easy to forget just how much has been established in fifteen years, and just how precious is the level of trust and engagement enjoyed by Members. This enables an extraordinary level of activity – more than 10 million people reached in COVID response through 2020 alone. As bottomless as that need is, I still find that an inspiration. As those are millions of lives who have been touched, and in some ways protected, in these very difficult times.

Please click here to view the Integral Annual Report