The Role of NGOs in Sustainable Development
According to UNEP, NGOs have played a major role in promoting sustainable development the world over. Especially on the international front, NGOs have played a significant part in negotiating with governments and other regulatory bodies. Some of the most popular sustainable development campaigns that NGOs have been involved in is the regulation and ban of hazardous wastes. Rehabilitating land mines and putting an end to slavery are also some of the initiatives that have been driven by NGOs at the international level.
It is common knowledge that it is not only governments that stand in the path towards sustainable development. Large international corporations play a major role in undermining sustainable development. For example corporations that deal with fossil fuels and other production practices that lead to environmental degradation are not interested in fostering the sustainable development agenda. This is because the adoption of proper production practices will be detrimental to their businesses. So they liaise with governments to benefit their own selfish gains.
Non-governmental organizations have now taken the initiative of taking the war to the door steps of such corporations. Unfortunately most of such corporations are hard to reach. NGOs are left with no other option that to carry regular advocacy attempts including demonstrations. The NGOs resort to demonstrations when all other diplomatic means have bore no fruit.
Technological advancements have worked in the favor of NGOs. There are now a variety of platforms upon which NGOs can bring to the attention of the public as well as the necessary bodies various contentious issues. Social media and other new communication platforms gives NGOs the opportunity to apply the necessary pressure to make governments and corporations to take the necessary changes.
The effect of the pressure that the NGOs apply on these big shots is evident. Many corporations now want their consumers and clients to see that they are making an effort towards sustainable development. One of the best examples of this impact is how manufacturers are now including messages promoting sustainable development practices on the packaging material they use. For example, they encourage their consumers to recycle waste instead of throwing it out to protect the environment.
NGOs also conduct campaigns to encourage governments to find more sustainable solutions to their development problems. For example instead of getting food aid, NGOs are advocating for more sustainable agricultural practices. For example, NGOs advocate for drought resistant crops to get subsidized taxes so that more people can be interested in growing the same. This way future generations living in drought prone areas do not suffer from hunger.
As much as NGOs have played a major role in sustainable development, there has been a debate on the possibility that some of them are also arm twisted and controlled by large business corporations. Therefore they only make one step ahead and ten steps back in their sustainable development initiatives.
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