UN hears NGO power

It’s not just mining companies or big business that can sway politicians and policy-makers, research now shows non-government organisations (NGOs) are learning how to influence policy and international co-operation.

Presenting at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters to officials and academics, Griffith Business School Associate Professor Jem Bendell will discuss how NGOs use networks to influence policies on economics, trade, corporations and finance.

Dr Bendell said there had been a rise of NGO campaigning on corporations and trade, with a number of NGO networks now driving positive change.

“They include the Trade Justice Network and the Corporate Responsibility Coalition, which bring together large NGOs such as Oxfam and Friends of the Earth, to reduce global inequalities emerging from corporate globalisation,” Dr Bendell said.

Dr Bendell has analysed NGO networks for the past two years to evaluate how they benefit from collaboration, and what their impact has been on public policies and corporate practice.

His presentation will provide initial insights into a forthcoming report on this topic, to be released by the UN Research Institute for Social Development in early 2009.

Dr Bendell is also presenting at the European conference of the world’s largest responsible enterprise membership body, Net Impact, on partnerships between businesses and NGOs, three days before presenting to the UN.

“Coming together to discuss these issues in Geneva illustrates the growing importance of both NGOs and corporations to the future of the planet,” Dr Bendell said.

“Global challenges like poverty, climate change and HIV/AIDS will only be addressed effectively when responsible enterprises become the normal way of doing business.

“The more sharing of ideas on this topic, the better,” he said.

Dr Bendell represents the Griffith Business School on the research working group of the new UN Principles for Responsible Management Education.

The Griffith Business School was the first Australian university to adopt these principles, which provide a framework for enhancing research, teaching and operations of universities to meet the challenges of sustainable development.

For more information on the UN Research Institute for Social Development visit www.unrisd.org