Why Oxfam’s new Grow campaign is a big deal

by | May 31, 2011

Oxfam has just launched its new Grow campaign on food justice in a resource-constrained world. I’ve had the chance to see this campaign being put together from the inside as a consultant for Oxfam (and a new Oxfam paper by me on Governance for a Resilient Food System is available here) – and I think it’s a big deal.

For one thing, the campaign marks a major break with traditional single issue campaigning. This isn’t just a campaign about biofuels, or landgrabs, or making agricultural trade fair, or climate change, or competition for land and water, or women’s rights. It’s about all these things, united beneath the overall banner of ‘food justice in a resource constrained world’. I’ve felt for ages that NGOs need to move on from single issue campaigning towards ways of pushing for whole system change – and Oxfam are going for it in a big way.

At the same time, the campaign ploughs through the traditional line between the development and environment agendas. For all that there are obviously enormous issues of fairness and equity involved in any discussion of environmental limits, many NGOs have struggled to figure out how to approach them. But the Grow campaign tackles them head-on – as this campaign graphic shows.

Finally, this is probably the biggest development campaign since Make Poverty History. It’ll be the first time that every arm of Oxfam is working together on a single top priority campaign; over the next 24 hours, the campaign will be undertaking rolling launches in 45 different countries. At the same time, as I note in this post on the Guardian development blog, other pathfinding NGOs like WWF and ActionAid are also converging on the issue of fair shares in a world of limits.

This marks a big shift in the development agenda, and it’s crucial that this new push succeeds. Sign up now


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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