From Poverty to Power: NGOs and Advocacy


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Part of a series of lectures by Duncan Green, Head of Research at Oxfam GB on key issues raised in his book From Poverty to Power.

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From Poverty to Power: NGOs and Advocacy

  1. 1. NGOs and Advocacy Lecture given by Duncan Green Head of Research at Oxfam GB Notre Dame University, September 2009Part of a series of From Poverty to Power lectures.
  2. 2. From Poverty to Power:Notre Dame lecture programme NGOs and Advocacy How Change Happens Power and Politics Poverty and Wealth Risk and Vulnerability The International System The Global Economic Crisis Climate Change
  3. 3. NGOs and Advocacy:Structure of Presentation A tour of the NGO zoo NGOs and campaigning Case study on Trade and the WTO Comparison with climate change campaign
  4. 4. Some stuff about Oxfam International NGO with affiliates in 13 countries, and operations in more than 100 Total programme spend of $828m in 2007 Main spending items are long term development and emergencies Began as Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in 1942, trying to relieve hunger in nazi-occupied Greece Oxfam America based in Boston, $73m turnover in 2008,
  5. 5. The fragmented NGO Universe North v South Development v Environment v Consumers Secular v Church Big v Small (General v single issue) Service Delivery v Policy oriented Programmes v Campaigns Activist/Radical v Mainstream/Reformist – movements v military discipline
  6. 6. Where do INGOs get their ideas from? Keynes’ Scribblers: Ancestral memories of the NIEO, dependency theory, Gramsci, Marx etc Academics, esp the iconoclasts (Rodrik, Sen, Chang) Interaction with domestic concerns (eg climate change) Case studies and history > econometrics or modelling Governments or multilaterals (UN, World Bank) Developing Country radicals (Vandana Shiva, Walden Bello, Martin Khor) Programmes and partners (experience on the ground) Each other: – Balance varies between NGOs
  7. 7. The rise of lobbying and campaigning Roots in Programmes (islands of success in a sea of failure) NGOs saw need to shape/check northern policies (anti- apartheid, Central America, IFIs, debt, trade, climate change) And need to change ideas and beliefs to build a mass constituency for change Leading to the rise of public policy lobbying and global campaigning But bulk of staff still involved in programme and emergencies
  8. 8. Campaigning The best campaigns have: – A villain – A problem – A solution – Example: TRIPS/Access to Medicines Villains of choice: Northern Governments, IFIs, WTO, TNCs But can mean an easy ride for: domestic capital, DC governments and NGOs themselves!
  9. 9. How does Oxfam campaign? An awful lot of emails, teleconferences, meetings and listserves…. Insider – Lobbying – Research: combined primary, secondary and ‘killer facts’, quality media Outsider – ‘Pop Mob’; mass media; celebrities; branding (white bands) Alliances – Global Campaign on Education, Make Poverty History, Jubilee 2000, Climate Action Network,
  10. 10. How does Oxfam design a campaign? Specify range of possible changes you want to investigate Define Change Goal Apply Power Analysis to develop an initial influencing strategy
  11. 11. Power analysis: phase one What needs to change to achieve this (what laws, policies, practices, relationships need to change)? What are the drivers and obstacles to change? (e.g. attitudes and beliefs, political groups, financial/commercial interests, lack of a feasible practical proposal) What are the political opportunities for change (e.g. legislative timetables, elections, international negotiations & summits)
  12. 12. Power analysis: phase two At what level are decisions made (international, national, state, politician or official) Who are decision-makers and institutions that determine the change? Among these groups and individuals, which are – most easily influenced by Oxfam? – the lost causes? – the ‘shifters - the undecided or persuadable? Who influences the people in this last group, who are often the principle target for our campaign? Design your campaign and get stuck in…
  13. 13. Why do governments listen?They usually don’t, but when they do, it’s because NGOs: Agree with them Talk their language: ‘tell a story’ – a narrative based on limited research; (CAP) Move the public (e.g. Church NGOs on debt) Are skilled media operators Sometimes spot emerging issues before civil servants (PWYP)
  14. 14. Pause for typical NGO self doubt:Have we got too good at campaigning? Getting too close to DC governments and talking N-S rather than power Urge to be ‘taken seriously’ means we are seduced by policy detail, but neglect vision-thing and transformatory agenda Too much focus on northern campaigning, when the real changes often come within developing countries Much better at opposing than proposing: what are we for, apart from process (e.g. policy space, growth model)?
  15. 15. Back to campaigning:The WTO and the Doha Round God’s gift to trade campaigners? …or… Integrated Pest Management for NGOs?
  16. 16. Multilateral Trading System:the positives Rules more important for weaker players Dispute settlement Least worst balance of power Disciplines on powerful countries
  17. 17. Multilateral Trading System:the negatives Expense (e.g. TRIPs) in terms of $ and people Premature opening (e.g. ag, NAMA) Policy space: actual and chilling effect Balance of power still skewed e.g. Agreement on Agriculture
  18. 18. Where does the WTO fit? One of many constraints, and often the weakest cf IMF, RTAs But permanent via lock-in More intangible ‘chilling effect’ in some areas Good (and bad) ideas from WTO can influence other processes Key decisions remain domestic
  19. 19. Trade, liberalisation and development Trade can be an important part of a growth strategy (East Asia, Chile, Botswana, Mauritius) But is trade liberalisation an outcome of development or an initial condition? Theory: more efficient allocation of resources, comparative advantage – Source: Anything from the World Bank History: protection in early stages necessary but not sufficient (infant industry and ag) – Source: Dani Rodrik, In Search of Prosperity; Ha Joon Chang, Kicking Away the Ladder
  20. 20. Compare that previous slide with this killer fact…“In 2003, the average European cowreceived $2.62 per day in agriculturalsupport, which is more than the dailyincome of half the worlds people. ” Which will you remember?!
  21. 21. Oxfam priorities on WTOPolicy Space on agriculture, industrial policyNorthern Market AccessDumpingNorthern subsidies, not just export subsidiesBad rules, e.g. TRIPs and access to medicines
  22. 22. So what’s it like?WTO ministerial 2003, Cancún:a tough assignment…
  23. 23. And a poor working environment…
  24. 24. What happened Developing Country alliances got stronger Flashpoints: investment and agriculture The summit collapsed Doha round now in deep freeze – Is that a bad thing? It depends
  25. 25. Climate Change: make or break issues Guarantees of finance from rich countries for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. 2020 mitigation targets for rich (Annex I) countries.
  26. 26. What do we need at Copenhagen?A SAFE and FAIR dealSAFE: to reduce emissions sufficiently to avoid catastrophic climate change.FAIR: so that rich countries finally take responsibility for the crisis they have created, committing to: • Cut emissions first, furthest and fastest • Financing for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries
  27. 27. Climate Change v WTOSimilarities Differences Role of blocs and DC  Only winning is assertiveness enough – blocking bad DCs will grow stronger things is not enough as negotiations  Urgency – delays will continue be costly Differentiation between DCs a minefield Early influence is easier Domestic drivers (unlike aid, debt)
  28. 28. Further Reading from the Blog The Global Campaign for Education, A successful campaign on domestic violence in Malawi, Reforming US aid, Changing Georgia’s social protection system, Advocacy v service delivery in Russia, Influencing the state in Vietnam,
  29. 29. Further Reading Tools for Policy Impact, ODI, olicy_Impact.html Knowledge to Policy: Making the Most of Development Research, Fred Carden, IDRC 2009