David Levy – Who leads after NGOs abandon Campaigns? – Nov 15

Following on from previous blogs brings me, rather forcefully, to areas of concern which are more numerous than I ever thought possible when I first joined Marinet. Those were the days of being part of a greater entity.

I used to sit in annual conferences where things were discussed but never made it onto the campaign trail, even though the delegates voted for this. This left me speechless at the time, especially when Marinet’s motions and motions supporting Marinet topped the debates.

Back then you thought you knew where you belonged, what you stood up for, and what you campaigned on.

However like all campaigns, it is easy to take the eye off the ball once you think you have achieved a position. This is exactly the time when you will be undermined.

Nuclear power is a classic example of this. The arguments today are still the same as before, but the opposition has evaporated. Some ex-campaign leaders have even shifted their alliance to the nuclear lobby, and nuclear new-builds and nuclear waste disposal are off the environmental campaigner’s radar. So the question is: why is all the hard work abandoned, and policy change accepted as simply being a consequence of progress?

In previous blogs I have talked about the neutering of NGOs by the charitable status which they have sought. And, in a major way, I believe this is an important factor when it comes to this issue. Put alongside this the fact that different generations handle problem-solving in different ways, and you can see that the NGO movement may be in an unhappy place. Taking on large issues, and sticking with the campaign, is not the current thinking.

Take Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s stance on the need for Marine Conservation Zones (MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone), televised, supported by the public outside Parliament and by a prominent NGO. Where is that campaign?

We have no coherent network of MCZs.

H F-W has moved on to the subject of food waste.

MCZs have been introduced slowly, and with no connecting philosophy of coherence.

MCZs are not marine reserves, and already two MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone sites have damaging activities proposed within their boundaries.

This has happened almost without challenge, therefore one must ask: where are the leaders who, in the public’s mind, campaigned on MCZs? Have they ceased to be engaged with the goals they originally set for themselves?

Without concerted opposition, we will be asking in a year or so: what is the purpose of a MCZ, for it currently protects nothing of importance?

When Marinet seeks answers to these questions, it is repelled by those we seek guidance from.

Far more frightening still is the reaction from those we seek guidance. It’s akin to not speaking the same language. And, heaven forbid, they think we want to criticise them.

Where do we go from here?

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