Environmentalism in Ireland
By Hilary Tovey, Research Programme on Environmental Attitudes, Values and Behaviour in Ireland Staff
The politics of empowerment
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This is interesting because it makes deep water wind farms much easier. All the NIMBY (not in my back yard) guys can't really argue with this one. And the guys that think turbines kill birds (same guys that don't know that neighborhood and feral cats kill more birds than anything by far) can't really argue with this one either. And even though it is a cool idea, I can't help but feel "too little, too late."
When gas is $7 a gallon and energy costs are way to high and resources are limited, those NIMBY guys will be begging for a wind turbine in their neighborhood. I, personally, think that windmills are beautiful and very relaxing to watch. I don't see what the big deal is. And if you give the locals discounts on their power, most would be happy to have a windmill close (within reason).
I know what you're thinking. You think I might be offending some NIMBY folk, but I'm sure they don't read my blog....not yet.
By Richard. Read more
Racism hidden behind the concept of public saftey.
By Brian in Mpls
More about this NIMBY group
La primera promesa electoral que cumplió Barack Obama al llegar a la Casa Blanca fue la de dar la orden de clausurar la cárcel de Guantánamo, símbolo de los abusos cometidos por Bush en su "guerra contra el terrorismo". Si bien entonces recibió muestras de aprobación unánimes ante tal gesto, llevar a cabo su objetivo se ha convertido en un verdadero dolor de cabeza para Obama.
Más allá de las reticencias de los aliados europeos a aceptar a aquellos presos contra los que no se tienen pruebas inculpatorias, o éstas no se pueden utilizar por haber sido obtenidas bajo tortura, el gran obstáculo al que se enfrenta la Casa Blanca es el rechazo mayoritario del Congreso al traslado de los reos de Guantánamo a prisiones en territorio norteamericano.
Tras conseguir el Partido Demócrata el control de ambas cámaras legislativas en noviembre, todo parecía indicar que el camino sería llano para el flamante presidente. La mayoría de congresistas demócratas había rechazado los excesos de la administración Bush en el trato a los sospechosos de terrorismo, e incluso John McCain se había comprometido en la campaña a clausurar la controvertida cárcel.
Sin embargo, cuando fue la hora de proporcionar a la Casa Blanca los fondos necesarios para que cumpliera su promesa, muchos congresistas demócratas se replantearon su posición, y pospusieron la votación con la excusa de que Obama no les había presentado un plan claro sobre cómo proceder al cierre del centro de detención.
Rechazo de la población La verdadera razón de su cambio de parecer tiene que ver con las encuestas que manejan sobre este tema. Según una publicada recientemente por el rotativo 'USA Today', la población se encuentra dividida a partes iguales respecto a la necesidad de cerrar Guantánamo, pero una mayoría aplastante se muestra contraria a que un sólo sospechoso sea trasladado a las cárceles de su estado.
Es decir, el tema se ha convertido en lo que los politólogos estadounidenses llaman un NIMBY (por sus siglas 'Not In My Backyard', o sea, "No en mi patio trasero"). En estos casos, la población suele reconocer la necesidad de adoptar una determinada medida, pero se niega a que sea en su localidad. Un ejemplo clásico es la instalación de depuradoras, o plantas de tratamiento de residuos.
Uno de los aspectos más frustrantes para la Casa Blanca es que ni tan siquiera se ha producido un debate social sobre la peligrosidad de mantener los reos detenidos en los EEUU. La administración no se cansa de recordar que ya existen decenas de personas condenadas por terrorismo en las cárceles de máxima seguridad federales, y que nunca se ha evadido ninguno de ellos. Igualmente, insiste en que no existe razón para que las comunidades cercanas a las cárceles sean objeto de un atentado.
Pero no parece que sus argumentos calen que en una sociedad que ha desarrollado un verdadero pánico a todo lo relacionado con la palabra "terrorismo". Así las cosas, el Partido Republicano cree haber encontrado un verdadero maná político, un asunto, por fin, con el que hincarle el diente a la popularidad de Obama. De ahí que se sucedan las declaraciones de congresistas republicanos atizando los miedos de la población, y defendiendo que Guantánamo se mantenga operativo.
Acuerdo de mínimos A pesar de la presión conservadora, la Administración consiguió arrancar el viernes un acuerdo de mínimos con varios congresistas demócratas por el cual aceptan el traslado de sospechosos a territorio estadounidense hasta el próximo 30 de septiembre con la finalidad de ser juzgados. No obstante, en caso de ser condenados, los legisladores se oponen a que cumplan su pena en EEUU.
Esta situación obliga a la Casa Blanca a redoblar sus esfuerzos para enviar los presioneros de Guantánamo a países extranjeros, pero a la vez dificulta las gestiones, ya que despierta los recelos de los aliados. Muchos gobiernos se preguntan por qué Washington se niega a acoger en EEUU a uno solo si no son peligrosos.
Si a todo ello sumamos las presiones de las organizaciones de Derechos Humanos para que Obama se eche atrás en su plan de mantener a algunos reos detenidos de forma indefinida y sin cargos, es fácil concluir que el cierre de Guantánamo se ha convertido en un asunto tóxico para la Casa Blanca.
By Ricard González. Read more
What is Coalition Building?
A coalition is a temporary alliance or partnering of groups in order to achieve a common purpose or to engage in joint activity. Coalition building is the process by which parties (individuals, organizations, or nations) come together to form a coalition. Forming coalitions with other groups of similar values, interests, and goals allows members to combine their resources and become more powerful than when they each acted alone.
Why is Coalition Building Important?
The "ability to build coalitions is a basic skill for those who wish to attain and maintain power and influence."Through coalitions, weaker parties to a conflict can increase their power. Coalition building is the "primary mechanism through which disempowered parties can develop their power base and thereby better defend their interests." Coalitions may be built around any issue and at any scale of society, from neighborhood issues to international conflict.
The formation of a coalition can shift the balance of power in a conflict situation and alter the future course of the conflict. People who pool their resources and work together are generally more powerful and more able to advance their interests, than those who do not. Coalition members may be able to resist certain threats or even begin to make counter threats. Generally, low-power groups are much more successful in defending their interests against the dominant group if they work together as a coalition. This is certainly more effective than fighting among themselves and/or fighting the dominant group alone.
Environmental groups in the United States have long understood the power of coalitions. Rather than taking on powerful industries on their own, leading environmental groups have often formed coalitions to challenge big business in the ballot box, at the legislature, and in the courts. They have succeeded in getting environmental candidates elected, and strong environmental protection laws passed. Without having many environmental groups working together, industry would have had a much stronger hand in the fight over environmental protection in the U.S.
How Do You Build a Successful Coalition?
Building a successful coalition involves a series of steps. The early steps center on the recognition of compatible interests. Sometimes this happens naturally. Other times potential coalition members must be persuaded that forming a coalition would be to their benefit. To do this one needs to demonstrate
- that your goals are similar and compatible,
- that working together will enhance both groups' abilities to reach their goals, and
- that the benefits of coalescing will be greater than the costs.
This third point can be demonstrated in either of two ways: incentives can be offered to make the benefits of joining the coalition high, or sanctions can be threatened, making the costs of not joining even higher. For example, the United States offered a variety of financial aid and political benefits to countries that joined its coalition against Iraq in 2003; it also threatened negative repercussions for those who failed to join, and much worse for those who sided with Saddam Hussein. Another method that can make joining the coalition appealing is to eliminate alternatives to the coalition. Once most of one's allies or associates have joined a coalition, it is awkward...perhaps dangerous not to join oneself. Although people and organizations often prefer non-action to making a risky decision, if they find themselves choosing between getting on board a growing coalition or being left behind, getting on board is often more attractive.
Lastly, coalition builders may use precedence as a means of social influence. For example, in making decisions, people (or countries) generally want to remain consistent with prior commitments. That means that nations can pressure their allies to act with them in new endeavors. Failing to do so, it can be argued, would hurt their "long-standing alliance." This strategy is not always successful, especially if the self-interest of the other group seems to be harmed by the proposed action. (France, for instance, was not willing to join the U.S. coalition against Iraq in 2003, despite a long-term alliance between France and the U.S.) What are the Benefits of Coalitions?
The benefits of coalition building go beyond increased power in relation to the opposition. Coalition building may also strengthen the members internally, enabling them to be more effective in other arenas. Some other key advantages to coalition building include:
Disadvantages of Working in Coalition
- A coalition of organizations can win on more fronts than a single organization working alone and increase the potential for success.
- A coalition can bring more expertise and resources to bear on complex issues, where the technical or personnel resources of any one organization would not be sufficient.
- A coalition can develop new leaders. As experienced group leaders step forward to lead the coalition, openings are created for new leaders in the individual groups. The new, emerging leadership strengthens the groups and the coalition.
- A coalition will increase the impact of each organization's effort. Involvement in a coalition means there are more people who have a better understanding of your issues and more people advocating for your side.
- A coalition will increase available resources. Not only will physical and financial resources be increased, but each group will gain access to the contacts, connections, and relationships established by other groups.
- A coalition may raise its members' public profiles by broadening the range of groups involved in a conflict. The activities of a coalition are likely to receive more media attention than those of any individual organization.
- A coalition can build a lasting base for change. Once groups unite, each group's vision of change broadens and it becomes more difficult for opposition groups to disregard the coalition's efforts as dismissible or as special interests.
- A successful coalition is made up of people who have never worked together before. Coming from diverse backgrounds and different viewpoints, they have to figure out how to respect each other's differences and get something big accomplished. They have to figure out how each group and its representatives can make their different but valuable contributions to the overall strategy for change (See consensus building). This helps avoid duplication of efforts and improve communication among key players.
The Bottom Line
- Member groups can get distracted from other work. If that happens, non-coalition efforts may become less effective and the organization may be weakened overall.
- A coalition may only be as strong as its weakest link. Each member organization will have different levels of resources and experience as well as different internal problems. Organizations that provide a lot of resources and leadership may get frustrated with other members' shortcomings.
- To keep a coalition together, it is often necessary to cater to one side more than another, especially when negotiating tactics. If a member prefers high-profile confrontational tactics, they might dislike subdued tactics, thinking they are not exciting enough to mobilize support. At the same time, the low profile, conciliatory members might be alarmed by the confrontation advocates, fearing they will escalate the conflict and make eventual victory more difficult to obtain.
- The democratic principle of one group-one vote may not always be acceptable to members with a lot of power and resources. The coalition must carefully define the relationships between powerful and less-powerful groups.
- Individual organizations may not get credit for their contributions to a coalition. Members that contribute a lot may think they did not receive enough credit.
Deciding whether to join a coalition is both a rational and an emotional decision. Rationally, one must consider whether one's effectiveness and one's ability to attain one's own goals would be enhanced or harmed by participation in a coalition. Emotionally, one must consider whether one likes the other people or groups, and whether cooperating with them would be easy, or more trouble than it is worth. Usually when two people, groups, or organizations' goals are compatible, forming a coalition is to both groups' benefit. But organizational styles, cultures, and relationships must be considered as well before any choices are made.
By Brad Spangler
. Read more
This is the top ten ranking of the NIMBY Experts' origin that have visited this website:
1. United States
4. United Kingdom
(following: Sweden, Australia, Japan, Chile, India, Poland, Philippines...)