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Wednesday 25th April 2012: JustShare debate: ‘Business vs NGO: Who does development best?’
With Anne Lindsay, Lead Private Sector Analyst with CAFOD and David Smith of the British Africa Business Alliance, and Dr David McNair of Save the Children in the Chair.
This controversial motion tapped into a number of perennial questions: Trade or aid? Is business the best route to development? What is the role for NGOs amidst so much scepticism about aid? Are NGOs inefficient and outdated? Or are they a vital voice for the voiceless, helping poor communities stand up against exploitation by big business? Where does tax planning or tax justice fit in? Can sustainable, equitable development make a profit?
David Smith felt that business was under-rated by some NGOs who saw only the failings of business even where there was potential to achieve a greater good by working together. He felt there was more scope for businesses and NGOs to co-operate and make use of the concept of 'collaborative advantage' instead of the competitive advantage. The tendency of businesses to replicate success and avoid reinventing the wheel could also be of use to NGOs. Business must put profit first but that was not in the least contrary to development.
Anne Linday sounded a word of caution; development should be done in partnership with and led by local developing communities - it should not be done 'to' them by either businesses or NGOs. She also reminded us of the role of the State and called for increased accountability, transparency and disclosure from corporates. NGOs had a role in asking the challenging questions about how businesses operate, whether CSR is a 'figleaf, who holds the power to set government policy (transnational companies control more assets than several developing countries) and how profits from business and state-business collaborations are distributed.
Despite some disagreements, our speakers and audience reached a consensus that the debate has now moved on; businesses and NGOs need not be polar opposites but can work together effectively to fight poverty - as long as both are transparent about their own agendas.
Event on Ecocide hosted for Diana Marquand, an environmental rights campaigner
On Wednesday 11th April 2012 JustShare hosted an event on ecocide, environmental rights and climate justice, featuring author and environmental lawyer Polly Higgins, Alex Scrivener of WDM and Clive Menzies, who campaigns for reform of the monetary system to acheive social and economic jusitce. Tanya Paton of the Occupy London movement also took part. You can download the presentations of the speakers by clicking on their names above.
April 2012: Listen to the Rector discuss the Church and Corporate Greed on Sydney Radio