What future for Development Advocacy? Three Paradoxes and Seven Directions

Duncan Green - June 10, 2015

Oxfam America’s head of policy and advocacy, Paul O’Brien wonders if he’ll still have a job in a few years, based on his remarks to a recent Gates Foundation gathering on the evolution of Policy and Advocacy work.  A century from now, how will development historians characterize our policy advocacy in a post-2015 world?   In a year that aims to transform development finance and goals, …

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How to win the argument on the private sector; seeing like a liberal, and a lifecycle approach to supporting aid agencies

Duncan Green - November 28, 2014

Had a great day at Oxfam Australia last week, immersed in a series of conversations that were dotted with ‘synaptic moments’, when different bits of thinking come together in your head and a lightbulb goes on. Three examples: Whose private sector is it anyway? The drumbeat of private sector rhetoric is deafening in Australia’s aid sector. This seems to worry NGOs, who somehow feel marginalized …

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Why is Coca-Cola championing land rights at the UN?

Duncan Green - May 16, 2014

I usually try and minimize Oxfam’s excessive tendency for trumpet-blowing, but this one from Oxfam America’s private sector czar, Chris Jochnick (@cjochnick), looks worth it – some real progress in working on land rights with the epitome of consumer capitalism This week at the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Coca Cola publicly declared that “land grabs” are unacceptable and urged governments to strengthen land …

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Have we just squandered a good crisis, and a golden opportunity to kick-start climate action?

Duncan Green - March 28, 2014

For years I, along with others like Alex Evans, have been saying ‘the politics of global carbon reduction is stuck, it will require a major climate shock in the rich countries to unblock it’. The argument is that major scandals, crises etc are required to create a sense of urgency, undermine coalitions of blockers, and convince everyone that a new approach is needed. The classic …

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Big food companies are moving from charity to rights. With one exception – Associated British Foods

admin - December 11, 2013

Erinch Sahan (right), a private sector policy advisor at Oxfam GB, brings us up to date with the Behind the Brands campaign, and one particularly recalcitrant company. This is a story of a campaign on Big Food. A campaign successful in moving a bunch of companies, but struggling with one in particular. It is a story of corporate responsibility, of philanthropy vs transparency, rights and …

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Campaigning on Hot v Cold Issues – what’s the difference?

admin - July 31, 2013

I recently began an interesting conversation with our new campaigns and policy czar, Ben Phillips, who then asked me to pick the FP2P collective brain-hive for further ideas. Here goes. The issue is ‘cold’ v ‘hot’ campaigning. Over the next couple of years, we will be doing a lot of campaigning on climate change and inequality. Inequality is flavour of the month, with an avalanche …

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Campaigning and Complexity: how do we campaign on a problem when we don’t know the solution?

admin - June 19, 2013

Had a thought-provoking discussion on ‘influencing’ with Exfamer (ex Oxfam Australia turned consultant) James Ensor a few days ago. The starting point was an apparent tension between the reading I’ve been doing on complex systems, and Oxfam’s traditional model of campaigning. In my first days at Oxfam, I was told that the recipe for a successful campaign was ‘problem, villain, solution’ (heroes are apparently optional). …

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The Policy Funnel – a way to sharpen up our advocacy?

admin - August 3, 2011

We had an interesting blue sky session last week on the nature of campaigning, and looked at the ‘Policy Funnel’, an idea developed by Nick Mabey and Anita Neville at E3G. The funnel tries to capture the dynamics of public  policy formulation, whereby a generalised public concern turns into a debate, then particular policy proposals and finally a specific text or other kind of agreement. …

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The trouble with targets: what would happen if we won all our campaigns?

admin - May 4, 2011

For any campaign (aid, health, education, climate change, small farmers), persuading governments to sign up to a spending target on ‘your issue’ is often the crowning moment. But what happens when governments start signing up to several targets at once? In a recent briefing, Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Anna McCord at ODI ran the numbers for five countries from sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda) and came …

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