Topic: NGOs

What is really going on within ‘shrinking civil society space’ and how should international actors respond?

Good conversation (Chatham House Rule) last week on the global crackdown on civil society organizations (CSOs) and what to do about it. I was expecting a fairly standard ‘it’s all terrible; international NGOs must take action, speak truth to power etc’ discussion, but it was actually much more interesting and nuanced than that. While it […]

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Loneliness, Love, Anger and Activism

Spent a morning at the Ashridge Business School Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility last week. The School is extraordinary – a Hogwarts-esque stately home full of statues and vaulted ceilings, formerly Henry VIII’s crib, set in a country park dotted with croquet lawns and mighty oaks. The conversation was also pretty good – 15 Masters […]

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Can Oxfam do the Doughnut? A conversation with Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth came in last week to present her new book, Doughnut Economics (see my earlier review here or Simon Maxwell’s thoughtful summary/critique) and discuss its implications for Oxfam. After writing the initial DE paper while still at Oxfam back in 2012, Kate left to turn it into a book, so there was a definite air […]

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Sex, serendipity and surprises – launching the State of the World’s Fathers

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, apparently (my kids ignore it completely), so here’s Oxfam’s gender guru, Nikki van der Gaag, reflecting on an impressive bit of advocacy Sharing the housework means better sex.  Now that I have your attention, let me explain. This was just one of the findings in the first ever State of […]

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What can Activists do in a Political Downturn?

The recent discussions with the International Budget Partnership also got me thinking about the options facing activists in political downturns. IBP sees these as potentially multiple: the crackdown on civil society in increasing numbers of countries is closing the space for budget activism, and there may also be a kind of ‘peak transparency’, where the […]

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Thinking and Working Politically: where have we got to?

Spent a day with the TWP crew recently. Chatham House Rules, so no names. Like its close relative and overlapping network, ‘Doing Development Differently’, TWP urges aid organizations to stop trying to impose rigid blueprint/’best practice’ approaches, paying far more attention to issues of power, politics and local context. The driving force has mainly been […]

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How will we know if the SDGs are having any impact?

As long time readers of the blog will know, I’ve been a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sceptic since long before they were even agreed. However, I’ve been hearing a fair amount about them recently – people telling me that governments North and South, companies and city administrations are using them to frame public commitments and […]

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Empowerment and Accountability in Messy Places. Need your advice on Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar and Mozambique.

My post-book research plans are shaping up, so it’s time to ask for your advice. As well as the work I blogged about recently on Public Authority in fragile/conflict-affected settings, I’m doing some research with Oxfam and Itad on how ‘adaptive management’ plays out in those same settings. Here’s the blurb: ‘There is much hype […]

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There was never a better time for the US to leave global climate talks

Op-ed by Tim Gore, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research of Oxfam’s GROW Campaign Oxfam began campaigning for a global climate agreement in 2007. We have sent teams to every COP and every single negotiating session ever since. Along with many partners and allies, we have held stunts, published papers, generated media coverage, lobbied incessantly […]

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The imaginary advocate, the benefits of Command and Control, and why I’m just channelling Hayek

Continuing the download from the recent LSE-ODI workshop on ‘new experimentalism’ was this thought-provoking description by David Kennedy of the ‘imaginary advocate’, the assumed individual behind How Change Happens and, by extension, a lot of NGO advocacy. Might be a very interesting addition to the endless awaydays, strategic planning processes etc to ask people to […]

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The case against optimism: A Harvard Law Prof critiques How Change Happens

Last week I had the ‘on the psychotherapist’s couch’ experience of having the assumptions behind How Change Happens put under the microscope by two very big brains – Harvard’s David Kennedy and LSE’s Stephen Humphreys. This was part of a joint LSE/ODI seminar on ‘new experimentalism’ (which seems to be the legal studies equivalent of […]

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What does Feminist Social Innovation look like?

Guest post from Chloe Safier In the global development world, there are a lot of conversations about social innovation and (separately) a lot of discussions about feminist approaches to development and women’s rights. Social innovation labs, incubators and accelerators are popping up everywhere, from San Francisco to Beirut to Delhi. Major development actors like the […]

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