Burkhard Gnärig

4 August, 2015

Some months ago during a discussion about the role of CSOs I was asked whether it was OK for CSOs to threaten national security. I asked what the question meant and found out that it referred to Greenpeace challenging the Indian government on environmental destruction in the context of coal mining. I replied that I could not see how a handful of activists protesting peacefully could threaten the national security of a country as powerful as India. Shortly afterwards I found out that the very public fight against Greenpeace was only the tip of the iceberg.

Miriam Niehaus

7 July, 2015

ICSC_Logo1As we talk about how political, planetary, and technological disruption affects civil society we sometimes get caught up in what we do not do well and how overwhelming the challenges we face are. So we decided to look for positive and motivating examples out there: We ran the Twitter challenge #BeTheHedgehog and asked for examples of particularly innovative projects and ideas.

To us, hedgehogs symbolise radical innovation because as curling up into a ball – their very successful defence strategy for millions of years – became ineffective when the car was invented, hedgehogs changed their strategy and learned how to run.

This is what we ask of ourselves and others: Don’t stick to what has always worked but be innovative, brave and bold like hedgehogs. Plus, share those ideas so we can all learn from each other.

Here we would like to share some of the fantastic “civil society hedgehogs” which people suggested to us and why we think they are particularly noteworthy: MORE

May Boeve

2 June, 2015

The leading international civil society organisations (CSOs) are not always (or even often!) seen as movement actors or leaders, and this has always puzzled me. How can organisations that exist to further the public good and create social change not be?

As a student activist I assumed all CSOs were comprised of people who were, first and foremost, part of movements, and the staff all comprised as activists first and foremost.

It was only much later, when I had the opportunity to participate in the fascinating Network Leadership Innovation Lab, that I began to understand why that may not be the case. 350.org, the climate change advocacy campaign where I currently serve as Executive Director, was selected to be a part of this learning group because we are at once an organisation, existing within a network, existing with a movement.


Burkhard Gnärig

14 April, 2015

During the latest WEF in Davos I participated in a meeting of heads of leading international civil society organisations (CSOs) and business discussing “Sustainable Development & Climate CollaborateJustice: Working together to advance the Post-2015 Agenda”. On the civil society side we counted about 15 CEOs from organisations such as Amnesty International, the Red Cross and Plan. Business was represented only by a handful of CEOs while some companies had sent their leaders of Corporate Social Responsibility – their CEOs probably in one of the hotels nearby, engaged in meetings they considered more important. Our discussion showed that progressive voices in business and civil society leaders feel similar degrees of urgency in addressing climate change and poverty and that they have similar expectations concerning the outcomes of the UN negotiation processes on Post-2015 and Climate.

This was a good first step towards better cooperation but clearly not enough given the challenges we face: accelerating climate change on the one hand and desperate poverty and rising inequality on the other threaten the foundations of our civilization and possibly our future existence. Therefore we need to turn our growing sense of urgency into bold and transformative action. There are two dimensions in which we have to act: MORE