Are environmental NGOs a relic of the past that we no longer need now we’ve woken up to sustainability?
Over the years, they’ve grown into sizeable organisations – in fact, in many ways, they resemble multi-national corporations nowadays.
Together, they campaign on a wide range of issues, but are these non-governmental organisations (NGOs) founded in the 1970s still relevant in the 21st century?
With the exception of North Korea, nobody seems to be testing nuclear weapons technology by detonating bombs to watch what happens anymore.
And we’ve travelled a long way when it comes to environmental protection and conservation: bodies like the United Nations take a lead on everything from sustainable agriculture to climate change, and national governments have introduced tougher laws to curb pollution and waste.
Not only that, but individuals have become much more aware of environmental issues, particularly with the advent of 24/7 global news reporting, the internet and social media. Just look at this Google Trends report to see how searches for “climate change” have steadily increased over the last 5 years.
As a consequence of this greater awareness, people are adopting more environmentally-conscious behaviours that include household recycling (which has grown significantly in the last 20 years) and they take those into the workplace, expecting employers to act in the same way. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that people seek out employers with a strong track-record of environmental performance.
With all that in mind, do we still need ‘green’ NGOs or are we now in a position where society as a whole (including the world of business) is capable of and willing to take responsibility for maintaining momentum on environmental issues?
And if we do think there’s a continuing role for environmental NGOs, how do we make sure that their efforts are aligned with society’s needs and grounded in reality?
Answers welcome in the comments below!