4.4.1 The growth of NGOs1
Three stages of development in southern community environmental movements have
been identified (Doyle and McEachern, 1998). In the sixties' "development"
decade the pervasive optimism meant that there was little movement opposition
within the countries of the South. In the seventies, some key environmental
movements emerged such as the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, the Environment
Liaison Centre International, Environment and Development Action in the Third
World, and Sahabat Alam Malaysia. These movements fought for "people's"
development but did not oppose northern development ideology. More recently,
a gap has opened between those groups that work with government and international
agencies, and more radical environmental protest movements. These latter movements
criticise northern science and technology, the industrial practices of MNCs,
national and northern governments and international aid agencies (Doyle and
There is now a vast range and number of NGOs. On one count there were 530 NGOs
in 45 countries in the African Environmental Network; 6,000 NGOs in Latin America
and the Caribbean; about 12,000 development NGOs in India; 10,000 NGOs in Bangladesh
and 18,000 in the Philippines (Princen and Finger, 1994).
In the environmental sphere, NGOs have varying tools and techniques for influencing
the processes of development. Where they operate within a corporatist approach,
they negotiate and undertake advocacy work for change. Where there is accountability,
political leverage can be brought to bear. For example, commercial groups whose
policies impact adversely on the environment can be vulnerable to consumer boycotts
organised by NGOs (Potter and Taylor, 1996). In some cases, particularly in
Latin America, groups are working on problems such as urban air pollution and
have conducted successful consumer focused campaigns (Oviedo and Bossano, 1996).
There may also be direct confrontation and opposition which can lead to projects
being abandoned (Hirsch and Lohman, 1989). And there can also be negotiation
to reach a consensus after confrontation. However, despite their increased roles
and visibility, non-specialised NGOs are commonly thought to suffer from four
sets of weaknesses: limited technical capacity, limited scale, limited strategic
capacity, and limited managerial capacity, so that capacity strengthening may
be required (Chen, 1996).
Around the climate change issue, there is an increasing momentum for the development
of organisations of "business" NGOs, that is groupings of businesses
that support action in support of climate change and see commercial advantages
in being there first. Two umbrella business groups have already started to develop
networks. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy is working with partners
in Latin America and Asia, while the Business Council for Sustainable Development
is operating in Latin America (BCSD-LA) in Box 4.2).
| Box 4.2 The Business Council for Sustainable
Development - Latin America (BCSD-LA) (Source: September 1999- Monthly newsletter
published by the BCSD-LA Eco-Efficiency Programme)
| The BCSD-LA has been operating for one year and has already compiled
a book: "Global Climate Change - Foundations for Business and Strategy
and Practice in Latin America". It includes a Latin American position
towards the climate change problem, with the support of 410 companies. The
document has support from 15 country organisations within the BCSD-LA network.
"This book also presents a collection of case studies documenting strategies
implemented by Latin American industry for minimising the effects of climate
change. This is proof that the commitment taken on by the Latin American
private sector in 1998 is already providing real, tangible results. With
this the Latin American private sector is once again setting a new and important
precedent in the world, by showing its leadership and response strategy
to the tremendous challenge presented by climate change, without waiting
for the FCCC to require it."