Welcome to ICAI
ICAI is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and works collaboratively with UN agencies, governments, academics, and other NGOs. Its structure is that of a global association of national, autonomous member organizations, which share the name “The Institute of Cultural Affairs” and acronym “ICA” (referred to hereafter as “national ICAs”).
National ICAs are presently located in 35 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and more….
The ICAI secretariat relocated its offices from Brussels to Montreal in 2006, and established new program units in 2007 focused on Capacity Building and Policy. The mandate and broad strategy for bringing this new global vision to fruition are described in ICAI’s five-year Strategic Plan for 2007 through 2011.
The ICA Approach
ICA’s mission is achieved through a unique, participatory approach that is based on helping individuals and communities helping themselves, a holistic integration of cultural, economic and political factors, and using a wide array of ICA developed tools and methods. That places culture at the centre of the development process.
ICA pioneered a unique approach to human development with culture at its core. The ICA approach is culturally-centred; comprehensive and holistic; long-term and sustainable; participatory; and led through facilitation, using the ICA methodologies (see “How We Work,” page 5). This approach is designed to realize ICAI’s mission to actualize the fundamental right of all peoples to define and shape their own futures, in order to realize sustainable, just solutions to human challenges. Since 1977, the ICA approach has been applied through more than 200 integrated human development projects in more than 50 countries, directly benefiting more than 100,000 people around the world.
The ICA methodologies constitute the framework for all ICA programming. These methods were developed by ICA researchers and development practitioners investigating effective approaches for incorporating cultural dynamics in social change processes – and are continuously being refined, deepened, and adapted. The methods cover all aspects of social change process: conversation; workshop; historical scan; “image” building and analysis; decision-making; action planning; strategic planning; implementation monitoring; and evaluation. Collectively referred to as “Technologies of Participation” (and trademarked as such in many countries), these methods are recognized internationally as broadly-applicable tools for guiding social change processes.
ICA’s role in its projects is to facilitate the empowerment of local people, so that these people can take the initiative and leadership in planning for their own development and their lives. For ICA, development includes all aspects of the local community. It means socio-economic renewal and self-sufficiency for the community.
ICA has developed specific methodologies and tools that enable a systematic approach to facilitating empowerment (building confidence and self reliance), participation (teamwork) and community strategy development. These methods have been pioneered by ICA and are unique in its continued research work to support its field work.
Since 1977, the ICA approach has been applied through more than 200 integrated human development projects in more than 50 countries, directly benefiting more than 100,000 people around the world.