Are advocacy NGOs stupid or strategic?

I recently attended an invitation-only workshop on mining and sustainability hosted by the European Bank (EBRD) in London.  One of the themes developed at that event focused on ‘meaningful public consultation’. Simplified (if I may), one contributor seemed to suggest (plea?) that if we just do enough public consultation and education, NGOs and other groups will simply ‘swing around’ and accept the project/solutions offered by the project developers.

Experience suggests that some advocacy oriented NGOs are much more strategically oriented than some would give them credit for. They do not need ‘education’ per se. They simply take a different approach to balancing the people, planet and profit equation.

What frameworks and approaches to a meaningful public consultation have you found useful when faced with advocacy NGOs? What ranks high on your “do” and “don’t” list?

One Comment to Are advocacy NGOs stupid or strategic?

  1. Adam says:

    I agree that consultation and education alone will not persuade some advocacy oriented NGOs to withdraw their opposition to a specific mining project or the industry in general. What education and transparency will do is direct the debate towards specific issues and facts and away from generalizations and ideological positions.
    Many times advocacy groups are high on rhetoric and motivation, but lack specific details. On the flip side, sometimes it is the company that is short on details on how it will address likely project impacts. Meaningful consultation is a way to better identify those projects prepared to address and manage their impacts from those with work yet to be done. Furthermore when companies do not, or are not able to provide this information, the vacuum will be filled with information from other sources whether accurate or not.

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