Are Grey Panthers the next big thing in campaigning?

November 2, 2010
It’s probably a sign of my advancing years, but I’ve been wondering whether NGOs are missing a trick by endlessly targeting young people to become their activists. Sure, they’re the leaders of tomorrow, but what about us wrinklies? This all came to a head when I went out for a beer with a friend of mine who recently turned 60.

How has campaigning changed since slavery was abolished?

September 22, 2010
Recently I discussed ‘public action and influencing change’ with a small group of NGO types at an aid conference in Edinburgh. We started off by reviewing the factors behind the victory of the abolitionists back in the early 19th Century, and what had changed (or stayed the same) since then. Same: many of the tactics (petitions, boycotts, killer facts and

The Climate Campaign v Make Poverty History

September 3, 2010
Over on the Political Climate blog, Andrew Pendleton has been musing on the difference between the 2005 ‘make poverty history’ and ‘stop climate chaos’ campaigns. In his view the climate campaigners have failed to break out of the ‘green wedge’ of environmentalists, whereas MPH went mainstream. His explanation for the differences? MPH used one simple and shocking stat – a

An effective public campaign (on palm oil)

June 29, 2010
You know you’ve had an impact when the Economist devotes three pages to your campaign, so hats off to Greenpeace and the other organizations featured in this week’s spread on palm oil. Here are some excerpts: “Palm oil is a popular, cheap commodity, which green activists are doing their best to turn into a commercial liability. Companies are finding them

Using mobile phones to combat medicine shortages in Africa

January 4, 2010
Most of the coverage (and hype) around mobile phones and development is based on their potential to improve access to markets for small farmers, especially those in remote areas and to provide easy ways to transfer small amounts of money in the absence of functioning bank networks. But mobiles, which are rapidly becoming ubiquitous in most poor countries (like a

The Global Campaign for Education – a model of international activism

August 18, 2009
‘Global campaigning’ is sometimes criticised for being driven by northern agendas. As one frustrated Indian activist interviewed in the paper discussed here asked ‘what is a global campaign? Does it mean you get a lot of people together in UK, have a Bono concert and ask us here in India to get together and shout? That is not locally relevant.’

The Rights and Wrongs of Food Miles

December 26, 2008