Pointless NGO campaign of the year

by | Feb 12, 2009

Yes, it’s only February, but it seems pretty unlikely that anything will top this for sheer pointlessness and banality.  Here’s the pitch from the “Put People First” march that will be taking place in London on 28th March:

On 2 April the leaders of 20 of the world’s biggest economies meet in London to tackle the recession and global financial crisis..

But even before the banking collapse caused recession, the world suffered vast poverty and inequality and faced the looming threat of climate chaos.

Governments, business and international institutions have followed a model of financial deregulation that has encouraged short-term profits, instability and an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental.

There can be no going back to business as usual. The only sustainable way to rebuild the global economy is to create a fair distribution of wealth that provides decent jobs and public services for all, ends global inequality and builds a low carbon future.

Wow. That’ll tell the politicians.

But, er, what is it telling them, exactly?

Sure, it’s not exactly a newsflash that the last few years have seen a pronounced move among NGOs away from having actual policy, and towards big campaign platforms that are much more about maximising participation (and hence donations and membership).

But even so, this is a new low. Make Poverty History may not have had the most sophisticated of policy platforms, but it looks like a doctoral thesis in comparison to this.  The coalition of participating organisations haven’t even bothered to put together a position paper to explain what they want.  Instead, there is simply this one liner:

Our message is clear. We must put people first.

The only clear message I can make out is the one that says “NGOs are hellbent on political irrelevance”.

(See also: Where next for NGOs?)


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is a Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) at New York University, and the author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren't Enough?(Penguin, 2017), a book about the power of deep stories to unlock transformational change. He lives in North Yorkshire and is currently working on political polarisation and learning dry stone walling.