Forming Partnerships

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Forming Partnerships

Thank you to all the Conversation Leaders for their time and commitment to taking part in this important conversation. Please take a moment to learn about the conversation leaders by clicking on their profile photos. Thank you!

Below is a list of questions to serve as a framework for the discussion in this thread:

  • Give examples of instances when your organization effectively built coalitions/ partnerships. 
  • What steps are needed to build partnerships outside of your sector (i.e. agriculture, finance, migration etc.)?
  • How can issues of fragmentation be addressed to create a more unified movement?
    • Please give examples of possible partnerships that would help to build a broader coalition. 

Our approach at Gundersen was to make a multiple pronged case, and look for partners with the same values, although they may have different ranking of their priorities. Some respond to the moral imperative of climate change, others to the health of patients right now today, others wanted to prove the conventional wisdom wrong that financial health and the environment was a trade off, others got excited about the ability to distinguish the organizations or communities involved.

We worked with them all, government and private, schools and business, competitors and new friends. If they shared the same values and goals...we and they were in.

Developing trusting relationships w/ science-based professionals

Our work at Fresh Energy with health professionals has built on a long timeline of building trusting relationships and establishing credibility with health professionals. It's helped that Fresh Energy is a 25-year-old, science-based policy organization, with deep connections in many fields and with government leaders. We've found that health professionals have found benefits in working in respectful relationships on joing projects where they bring their great expertise, and we bring to the table knowledge of the policy levers for action, and the communications opportunities for getting health messengers effectively into the policy sphere.

Partnerships Across Sectors

Climate change crosses all sectors so our partnerships need to do the same. At SeaTrust Institute, we start within individual sectors to build strategic relationships and then operate as the conduit between sectors.  Sometimes that means translating science or terminology or showing how values are complementary between government, business and industry, nonprofits, indigenous peoples and citizens in communities. Key to these relationships is building measurable action into them. The actions can be small, but as the driver of a partnership, it is imperative that the action is accomplished and promises kept. That builds lastinng relationships and translates across sectors. 

A coalition of health professional organisations

Although we are a health professional organisation, we quickly became part of a coalition of environmental and climate NGOs when we formed - we had members who also were involved in the governance of these NGOs. It took much longer to bring together a coalition of more conservative (but influential) health professional bodies (like the specialist colleges). To do this we developed a "health call to action" on climate change, met with a couple of key professional colleges to sign, then spent a number of years developing our membership to run for the Boards of these organisations and encouraging people to vote for them. Once we had some people on the Boards they were able to begin conversations about climate change from within the governance of these organisations, so the organisations would develop their own climate policies with our assistance and sign up to our call to action. We continue to provide them with the resources they need to use their political influence (for example, drafting briefs for meetings with politicians).

I think the approach Alex and

I think the approach Alex and her group took is very important to highlight. The advantage of strong, thoughtful, well informed insiders is huge. In the US, even with 1400 hospitals and systems in the Healthy Hospital Initiative, it still  often comes down to acting in the local or regional setting. Progress is so much faster if that ground work has been laid and there is clear advocacy from senior leaders or board members.

 For us the very basic lean " go and see" approach has helped with board members, politicians, and community business leaders to help them understand the local and more global impacts of our actions.

Good points about helping

Good points about helping boards, politicans and cothmmunity businesses to better understand the health impacts. Also, Alex is on point I think in suggesting that health experts be part of these community groups and NGOS, not just outside advisors. 



Forming Partnerships

EDF has been involved in a 4+ year project studying the climate implications of increasing natural gas production. We could have a wider conversation about the health vulnerabilities related to these activities, but I want to center this post in the power of forming non-traditional heterogeneous partnerships.

We discovered that this was a very complex issue, and the scientific community had published several studies with a wide range of results. It was difficult to draw robust conclusions and to make policy decisions in terms of reducing GHG emissions from the oil and gas industry.

We partnered with 20+ academic organizations, n an effort to catalyze the scientific agenda in such a way that we could reduce the uncertainty on the topic. We also had to partner with industry and other NGOs to design, coordinate, and communicate the results from these studies.

There has been past criticism about an environmental NGO partnering with industry. However, we have found that when it is possible to create a common language (in this case science) and there is a network of stakeholders and actors that foster a transparent, independent process, it is possible to design a strategy where these non-traditional partnerships establish an inclusive path forward.

I would highlight one key element to make these partnerships work:

(1)   Responsibility: A lot of the claims, attacks, defenses, statements related to climate change impacts center around who is responsible and who must pay for the fixes. These partnerships usually involve heterogeneous organizations where it would be easy for the hegemonic powers to simply impose decisions. There must be a framework of responsibility in order to disrupt the potential power structures and to create a horizontal table where ideas can be exchanged.

Building Relationships for Effective Partnerships

 At the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy we have been fortunate to build partnerships with a great number of groups and organizations dedicated to solving the climate crisis and advancing the health of communities.  We found the most effective partnerships are those that take the time to build respectful relationships and where there is clarity about roles and reciprocity. By nature, those who are working on climate justice are already working across sectors.  Regionally are Midwest Environmental Justice Network (with partners EMEAC and LVEJO) have been able to forge a place for equity and justice climate work in the midwest; the Environmental Justice Health Alliance as part of Coming Clean is working to identify the intersections of energy/chemical industries to more effectively support the transition to health environmental communities; the Climate Justice Alliance is a national coalition dedicated to elevating local Just Transition efforts and Energy Democracy.

We have all integrated the Principles of Environmental Justice developed at the National People of Color Environmental Leadershp Summit.and the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing. We believe the only way effective partnerhsips can happen is if there is a commitment to principles that guide our actions.  



Forming Partnerships

Although we are an environmental justice organisation we have manage to build partnerships with academic and health professionals associations through a series of organised roundtable discussions (on the health impacts and benefits of energy choices) by bringing together stakeholders who normally would not have found themselves in the same space.

Globally we are members of a healthy energy initiative which is a global coaltition of partner organisations working with health professionals and the health sector towards a vision of clean energy by articulating the health impacts of energy choices

Making sure health is not isolated

In addition to what Rico mentioned (about the Healthy Energy Initiative, which I am a part of), it is vital that the climate and health movement works in concert with other climate movements, such as the more mainstream environmental networks but also those coalitions that tackle climate change from other frames such as human rights, social justice, women and gender, etc.

For instance, in the Philippines, we work closely with the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, which is the biggest national coalition of people's organizations advocating for climate action and renewable energy transition in the Philippines. This network is a credible voice in the Philippine (and global) climate discourses, and the Healthy Energy Initiative in the Philippines adds a unique health voice to the broader movement.

Instead of us organizing separate press conferences and other events, we work in tandem with PMCJ and other groups to ensure a more coherent and cohesive messaging to both leaders and the general public. We also work with experts from other disciplines such as environmental science, law, and policy, as well as the energy sector, so that we climate and health advocates remain in the loop that discusses the fundamental issues surrounding climate change in the Philippines.

Creating A Broader Network
From my work with indigenous activist groups in South America, it seems there are a number of grassroots groups fighting climate change motivated by the need to protect human health or that somehow incoporate health into their mission. At the Climate and Health Summit in Paris, I saw the health care sector broadly represented, but due to financial and other constraints, smaller grassroots organziations were not. There are a number of national and international groups (Climate and Health Alliance, The Global Climate and Health Alliance, IFMSA, Healthy Planet UK, and etc) that combine climate change with public health explicity. I wonder to what extent these larger orgaizations incorporate grassroot organizations? Is there a way to expand this collaboration? 

As Fahamu , we have strengthened partnerships amongst civil society on climate justice.Through climate justice dialogues held in communities we provide spaces for  information exchange and interrogating climate change within the context of other social  injustices. The dialogues also provide opportunities for learning the history of climate change within communities including  developing strategies of a collective envisioned future.These dialogues are further sustained in the community through self organized learning circles known as study groups where communities  during their day to day activities update each other.

Fahamu has built partnerships with 5 frontline communities in Kenya namely Ragana Faith Women  group a women led small scale farming community, Sengwer Council of Elders in Embobut which brings together indigenous peoples , Mfangano Island Paralegal Network which is a group of paralegals  and fishermen on Mfangano Island , Bunge la Wamam which is a women's movement in Mathare slums -Nairobi and Malindi Rights Forum which is a community affected by the expanding salt lagoons in Marereni, Malindi.

Fahamu works with social movements and as such  the organization nurtures social movements through capacity enhancement, advocacy , co-production of knowledge, amplification of voice  and alliance building.On climate Justice we successfully organized a People's  Dialogue  which was parallel to COP  21 in Nairobi on 3rd December 2015 , to enhance understanding amongst frontline communities on high level dialogues on climate change including the UNFCC and INDCs.It was also an opportnity for  frontline communities to share as collectives how climate change has impacted on them including making key demands on COP 21.

The People's Dialogue on Climate Change brought together activists, artists, women , consumers , students , environmentalists together to dialogue on climate change including to participate in a protest march to COP 21.In the People's Dialogue on Climate Change , we mobilized  networks  including the World March of Women, Bunge la Mwananachi( People's Parliament) , Grassroots Human Rights Defenders , Bunge la Wamama Mashinani(  grassroots women's parliament among other networks.

Peoples Protest March-COP 21, Nairobi
Climate change community dialogues in Mathare-Nairobi
Climate Change community dialogues in Mfangano Island
Water Scarcity due to climate change-Marereni, Malindi