To realize these goals, we must create new structures to enable the distribution of power and resources and to represent all the stakeholders and legitimize decisions that affect them. The new structures are being proposed after assessing the functions and impact of the existing structures. These structures need not begin in full force during the implementation of the Movement Strategy and can be rolled out in a gradual and emergent manner with consultation and after more involved discussions with the stakeholders.
This recommendation is structured in subsections, which are founded on the premise of contextualized consultation in an equitable process with broad and diverse stakeholder participation guiding all decision-making and allocation actions:
Establish a common framework for decision-making
Our Movement will make decisions in context, as solutions to common challenges might look substantially different in various parts of the world. We aim for shared responsibility and inclusion. To make this work, we must establish a Movement Charter to define and set a common understanding of the principles, values, and governance behaviors that we share, as well as lay out the primary purpose of the Movement and provide a sense of belonging and togetherness for current and future Movement participants.
This charter will determine the rules of engagement for our ecosystem and serve as the foundation for maintaining safe and collaborative working environments that are welcoming to everyone who joins with constructive intent. For resources, it will include principles for Movement-wide revenue streams, a common direction, and shared understanding of how resources should be allocated, to whom, and for what purpose with appropriate accountability mechanisms.
A Charter of values and principles is fundamental to align the vision of all the participants of the Movement and to lay out the aspirations and higher ambition of the Movement — the vision. We want to have a diverse Movement, with new voices and communities in decision-making positions. Therefore, it is fundamental to have a common framework of action to define how we must work together and how we can strengthen the Movement vision to become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge by 2030.
We expect the Charter to guarantee legitimacy for the entire Movement, and we expect it to be owned by a global governance and accountability body.
Enable equitable representation in global decision-making
In order to make Movement-wide decisions, we require a global structure that responds to the needs of the Movement as a whole, and that represents the communities in an equitable way. We propose the creation of a global Governance Body in order to fulfill this function.
The creation of the Wikimedia Foundation originated in the need to manage the resources from fundraising, support the technical infrastructure, provide a responsible legal entity for Wikipedia. Although the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (WMF Board) has, by default, the role of representing the whole Movement, there is a growing perception that a global structure working in close association with the WMF Board is needed to encompass a higher representation of the diversity of the Movement itself.
As per the present composition/criterion of the WMF Board, some of the key areas essential for the overall growth of the Movement are not well represented (e.g., technical vision, governance, and management expertise, perspectives from emerging communities). This also limits the role of stewardship that the Wikimedia Foundation will have to play in the next stages of the Movement Strategy Process. To overcome these voids, we propose a global Governance Body to assist the WMF Board in matters of strategic importance. These matters which affect Movement-wide strategy concerns can be referred by the WMF Board to this global Governance Body.
We believe that any decision affecting our communities must involve the community to some extent to prevent imbalanced outcomes. Establishing a representative global Governance Body is an essential source of legitimacy for the power of the Movement to guarantee more equitable opportunities and sustained growth. The structure, besides providing representation of the communities, also ensures that communities are in line with the Movement, sharing responsibility for it.
The existing Movement structures (AffCom, FDC, etc.) may or may not have a place in this new structure (and if they continue, their existing scope and charters may be modified). How the current structures of the Movement engage and interact with the structures of this recommendation will be collectively and inclusively discussed during implementation.
We need to establish a global and strategy Governance Body for the Movement, which is built by both elected and selected members, representative of targeted diversity goals, across the Movement. Its responsibilities will include, but not be limited to:
- Setting and maintaining the strategy with community input wherever possible/viable;
- Ensuring alignment of the strategic principles of the Movement;
- Recommending and making changes to the Movement Charter, as needed;
- Holding all Movement organizations accountable for their use of Movement funds and trademarks and ensuring they support the Wikimedia mission and vision, complying with the Movement Charter.
Based on these responsibilities, the global Governance Body will be the most legitimate body to ensure that all the stakeholders are also in line with the Movement strategy, accountable for its activities, responsible for its development, and fully coordinated to advance towards the strategic direction.
Enable the empowerment of local communities
We believe that empowered communities are those who have the capacity and the resources to make and implement their own decisions to meet their differing needs and ensure sustainability and growth. Local and regional connections hold much potential for capacity building, if built upon and appropriately resourced. As a result, new connections and structures will emerge that will bring the principle of subsidiarity into practice.
To reach our strategic direction, stakeholders and systems in our Movement must function together as a collaborative, supportive ecosystem and avoid confusion over authority. The most effective capacity building is respectful to local cultures and conditions, and empowers participants to develop, test, and share their own promising practices.
The Wikimedia Movement has grown in independent and distributed ways, but it still lacks the support systems, agency, training, and infrastructure to support the next level of growth. As an example, today, it is sometimes difficult to provide resources or protection for communities in their contexts, especially for countries like Iran, Russia, Venezuela, or others that are not yet part of the Movement. It is also difficult for joint decisions to be made when decisions involve multiple parts of the Movement. These difficulties justify the need for an approach that is both more locally-driven, and more coordinated across communities.
We propose emergent regional structures / regional hubs that have a dynamic role in leading the communities towards our strategic vision, accompanied by a redistribution of power based on the principle of self-management. These structures are designed both on stated needs and patterns of success based upon the evaluation of existing structures that have proven to be effective in supporting communities.
We must recognize and build on networks that are developing organically and provide them with the necessary resources so that they can evolve and establish themselves within the Wikimedia Movement. We also must identify where a potential structure could support those communities in a very early state. These structures will work toward high standards of diversity, inclusion, accountability and equity in decision-making as per the principles agreed by the Movement.
Even though the concrete functionality of these structures will be decided by communities based on their contexts and needs, we expect that these systems will allow for subsidiarity while ensuring the following functions:
- Allocate resources;
- Provide legal support and protection when needed;
- Coordinate capacity building;
- Support organizational growth through tailored advice and peer-support (evaluation, funding, networking, etc.)
We acknowledge that the actual scope of these structures, their governance, evaluation, and the interconnectivity across emergent regional structures can be defined and redefined according to the evolution of needs and potentialities over time.
Participative resource allocation
It is essential that stakeholders can find a path for financial support to develop capacity, build structures, and contribute to the Movement in an agile and sustainable way. We propose creating a more participatory resource allocation process at a level closer to the stakeholders in order to be able to ensure more equity and relevance to varying contexts.
Resources should be allocated in and by the people in each context and be tailored to address the needs of specific recipients. We must provide resources to support capacity building and sustainability to empower our communities.
Altering our systems of allocation will ensure more relevance and, thus, efficient resource distribution will create more local agency and impact. Positive impact on the growth of the communities’ capacities and their sustainability may allow them to be more autonomous and accountable.
Emergent regional structures/regional hubs will facilitate resource allocation through an approach that is reliable, regular, unrestricted, and resilient, to secure and sustain communities throughout time with multi-year plans. The funding proposals will need to be flexible in terms of length, merge strategy goals of the Movement with local needs and directives, specify mutual accountabilities, and open pathways to local funding initiatives.
Open pathways to power positions
Establishing systems to resolve conflicts regarding authority and setting clear limitations on powers are key to opening up the Movement to new and more diverse voices, positioning them in decision-making spaces. To build a more equitable Movement, we need to ensure that roles are clearly defined and the access to power is based on capacities and the will to contribute.
We need mechanisms to eliminate conflicts and confusion over our current poorly-defined roles and authority. These structures should guarantee equity in the pathways to power positions in the communities to avoid power concentration in the hands of a few stakeholders.
The existing organizational structure is unclear about the interrelated roles and responsibilities between stakeholders, which can lead to confusion over who has the authority to act and causes communication breakdowns. Current power distribution within communities limit access for many parts of the community, especially those that are currently underrepresented. The current structures (or lack of structures) limit not only the possibilities of participating in future positions of power but also the emergence of new leaders.
There are currently no structures that effectively support Movement-wide joint decision-making or define who should intervene in situations involving several parts of the Movement, which leads to unnecessary conflict. Whenever the current power balance is challenged, conflicts emerge to protect existing structures, given the lack of overall guidance to resolve them. Fair and open conflict resolution and power-limiting measures ensure the aim is not to preserve existing power balance at the expense of justice and equity. To be inclusive of future communities, we need mechanisms to achieve the cultural change we want.
We propose investing in processes and procedures that support the development and participation of people in our projects, provide easily accessible conflict-resolution reporting and support systems, and generate tools and mechanisms for safe selection processes for roles of authority (such as anonymous voting).
By developing documented, easily accessible policies about the responsibilities, accountabilities, and durations of all Movement roles, we will eliminate confusion over who has the authority to take action and establish pathways to working collaboratively and cooperatively. This involves mapping all existing roles and clarifying responsibilities by emphasizing the human interactions between the people involved, rather than simply the tasks they are to perform.
Evaluating whether term limits need to be set regarding various roles in volunteer communities and global/affiliate governance structures might open pathways to new leadership. Term limits could also prevent the burn out of volunteers, attract new voices to leadership positions, limit power appropriation, and encourage participation by a more diverse group of leaders.