The issue of waste, such as rubbish and excreta, overlaps with natural resource management. If waste is not properly managed it can cause damage to water supplies, reduce soil or air quality over time and attract disease carriers such as rats. The best solution to the rubbish problem is to avoid creating it in the first place. However, we all need to produce some rubbish, and disposal of excreta is an issue for every living person. Waste management is often a challenge. Leaving rubbish on the street can be a health hazard; burning it pollutes the air; dumping it in rivers or lakes pollutes water and can damage fish stocks; and burying it pollutes the soil and the water supply, causing long lasting pollution that is difficult to clean up. Local and national governments should have clear strategies related to how they deal with rubbish, and how human excreta are processed, to avoid polluting the environment.
Advocacy related to waste management could therefore include ensuring the provision of improved sanitation facilities, or ensuring the safe collection and disposal of rubbish. We can also advocate for a reduction in the amount of rubbish people need to throw away by challenging shops on the amount of packaging (especially plastic) they produce and by encouraging people to recycle their rubbish. There is often a need for local level education to raise awareness of the need for effective and safe sanitation. We can raise awareness of the need to address the problem of sanitation and encourage advocacy at local and regional level.
Energy is critical for development. Lack of access to clean, sustainable energy sources can result in many environmental and non-environmental problems. Poor communities need access to financial resources and technology to enable them to develop sustainably. Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, rich countries must provide funding and technology for poor countries to use energy to develop in a clean way, and to become more energy-efficient. At present, wealthy countries are not doing this. We use advocacy to hold wealthy countries to account, by asking for increased funding and transfers of technology.
When tinkering with getting involved in advocacy on sustainable energy, we consider the following questions:
– In our country, how do people generate power for heating, lighting and transport? Consider urban areas and rural areas. How many people have access to clean sources of energy?
– Does the government have a policy or strategy for generating power? Is it environmentally sustainable or does it need changing?
– Can we lobby our government in relation to the UN process to ensure poor country access to finance and technology for sustainable energy and energy efficiency?
– Can we educate our local authorities about how to put pressure on the national government to provide sustainable energy? Then we develop a plan, identifying our goals and targets and work out what advocacy methods are appropriate. This area fit well with work related to climate change, and it also overlaps with natural resource management.
Environmental disasters affect poor people more than any other type of disaster, but there are many things that governments and communities can do to reduce people’s vulnerability to environmental hazards, such as floods and droughts. As climate change and environmental degradation accelerates, the intensity of these extreme hazards is predicted to increase. Advocacy related to disaster risk reduction (DRR) can have a key role in saving lives and livelihoods.
Governments and local authorities have a responsibility to protect their citizens and there are many things they can do to reduce risk of disaster, such as:
– Making DRR a priority in their development policies
– Developing laws on DRR that involve participation from all levels of society
– Allocating resources for work related to DRR
– Developing contingency plans at all levels of government
– Working with local communities to carry out disaster risk assessments and take action to be prepared in the event of a disaster risk. Around the world, non-governmental organizations are working with poor communities to reduce their vulnerability to disasters. However, with increasing poverty and global climate change, only governments and inter-governmental agencies (such as the UN) have the capacity to ensure that disaster risk reduction approaches are used within communities on a wider scale. In 2005, in Kobe, Japan, 168 governments met at the UN ‘World Conference on Disaster Reduction’. They agreed a set of goals to be achieved by 2015, which were set out in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015.
– Ensuring that DRR is a priority at national and local levels
– Identifying, assessing and monitoring disaster risk and enhancing early warning
– Using knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels
– Reducing underlying risk factors
– Strengthening disaster preparedness for effective responses at all levels. Achieving these goals is the responsibility of all governments. Governments must invest more funds in DRR in developing countries and be held accountable for achieving them.
As a first step, we identify which other organisations in the country or region are carrying out advocacy work related to DRR and arrange to meet with them. Try to gain a clear understanding of the national context for DRR by researching the existing policy frameworks and structures.
Some useful questions we ask are:
– How are local communities affected by disasters? What could local authorities be doing to minimise the impacts of disasters? How can we influence them to make sure they do all that they can?
– What is our government’s policy and strategy related to DRR? Where can we find our government’s policy and strategy for DRR? Are there any laws in place that relate to DRR, such as land use and building codes?
– What are the strengths and weaknesses of our government’s policies on DRR?
– Has our government signed up to the Hyogo Framework for Action?
– Does our government recognise linkages between DRR and climate change? Then develop an advocacy plan, identifying goals and targets, and work out what advocacy methods are appropriate.
Climate change is one of the most urgent and pressing issues facing the world today. There are two main issues that can be addressed through advocacy work. The first relates to ‘adaptation’ and the second to ‘mitigation’.
Adaptation is about the need for funding and technology transfer to help poor communities to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. At a local level, this might involve helping those with power in the community, such as local officials or local agencies, become aware of what is happening and encouraging them to take action so that communities can adapt to climate change and develop more sustainably. At a national level, advocacy work might involve urging governments to access the necessary funding and technology transfer, or working to support or influence national governments’ National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). Mitigation is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a ‘safe’ level globally. Rich countries must make the most reductions, while poor countries must be able to gain access to funding and technology to develop sustainably, for example by receiving incentives to protect their forests. At a local level, advocacy work could involve informing local authorities about how to engage with national level processes, and educating them about potential mitigation options, such as using renewable energy. At a national level, advocacy work might involve asking governments to access the funding and the technology needed to help communities develop in a way that is more sustainable.
We are a non-governmental organisations that have experience in advocacy work always trying to influence decision-makers at international level through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is achievable by forming relationships with government officials who are involved in international negotiations and providing them with information so that they are fully informed about the issues at local and national level. Our organization representatives often attend international meetings in order to lobby officials to support our initiatives.
When thinking about getting involved in advocacy on climate change, we consider the following questions:
– Can we join a regional climate change action network group?
– How can we keep records about the local environment, such as temperatures, rainfall, and drought? Is there any NGO we can give information to, for them to use in advocacy on climate change?
– How is the climate changed in our region and how is this affecting the lives of local communities? Is there a need to explain climate change to local communities and how it may affect them?
– What could be done by local authorities or local leaders to help people to cope with changes in the climate? What opportunities can we create for community members to talk to local decision-makers?
– Do we need to learn more about climate change in our organization or at a governmental level to understand what we need to do?
– Does the country we work with have a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPAS – see website www.unfccc.int/adaptation/napas/items/4583.php)? If not, what needs to be done to ensure that it develops an effective plan? If it does have one, does it need to be improved, and how is it being implemented?
– Is the government including adaptation measures in its development planning and programming? If not, what can we do to encourage it?
– What is position of country’s we work with on key issues discussed at international level? What does it think about adaptation funding and good practice, about targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and about best ways to get access to sustainable technology?
– How can we positively influence government’s position at the UN talks, or help it to be more effective? This might involve lobbying and campaigning at a national level, attend the UN talks to learn about the process and to gain experience of direct advocacy. Try to work with others who work on this issues and plan carefully to target people and organizations that have power to bring about change.