April 18, 2012
In order to promote environmentally friendly policies on a national scale, environmental NGOs have attempted to work with the government to promote environmental reform. Environmental NGOs have dramatically changed their approach to influencing policy change in the past few decades. In the 60s and 70s, these NGOs largely acted out of anger against government practices and were confrontational rather than convincing. Since then, these NGOs have become more focused on compromise and cooperation, which has often made them more effective. They have garnered increasing support for progressive government action by relying on scientific evidence and environmental analysis rather than emotion in the public sphere.
Cooperation between environmental NGOs and the government is occurring more frequently. In order to effectively promote environmental reform, NGOs must be on friendly terms with the government. This ensures that their positions are taken into account rather than brushed aside as angry rhetoric. Additionally, recent environmental disasters have provided opportunities for cooperation. In times when the environment is more of a public concern, NGOs can promote the importance of their agenda and can use public concern to promote reforms.
Unfortunately, the interests of environmental NGOs and the government often come into conflict. NGOs frequently publicize the wasteful habits of the government or the environmental degradation that the government promotes, and these exposures create conflict between the two groups. NGOs are put in a difficult position when trying to work with the government. Their credibility relies on their ability to hold true to their positions, but cooperation with the government often forces them to sacrifice many of their original goals.
Since there is a large collective action problem when it comes to the environment, increased public awareness about environmental concerns is usually the only way to force the government into action. Investing in environmental reform and alternative energy requires huge initial investments, and governments can only justify these costs when the public demands it. NGOs can be most effective by standing by their goals while realizing the political processes of the government. The government is more likely to respond to environmental concerns when it becomes a major public interest, so NGOs should focus on creating awareness about the issues and working closely with government agencies.
Posted by hmburns at April 18, 2012 11:11 PM