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 McEachern, 1998).
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."
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