2015 was a critical year for people and our planet. A number of global negotiations, such as the UN General Assembly on the Sustainable Development Goals in September and the COP21 on climate change in December, offered the opportunity to set the global agenda to accelerate progress in the fight against poverty, inequality and climate change. action/2015 was established as a global movement to increase the ambitions of world leaders during these key moments.
action/2015 commissioned Firetail to provide a full programme evaluation of the coalition, the biggest-ever of its kind.
action/2015 set out to mobilise the global public to take action. We evaluated the effectiveness and relevance of the campaign, looking at its organisation, effectiveness and impact. Firetail engaged with campaigners all over the world, predominantly in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We spoke with key decision-makers on global civil society coordination and decision-makers from UN bodies. We also put together six case studies of national campaigning structures. These highlighted the difference of approach in, for example, India – where campaigning was carried out through existing civil society structures – and Benin – where action/2015 in some areas provided the first structures for a national network of NGOs.
Firetail’s report provides lessons for global campaigners about how action/2015’s decentralised approach focused on public mobilisation. It highlighted how action/2015 catalysed an enormous amount of input beyond its initial funding, through in-kind and direct contributions by local organisations. Findings from the evaluation are now being used to inform the planning of national and global civil society campaigns and coordination structures.
Insights and further reading
Ten lessons were learned for effective global campaigning mechanisms.
Decentralise, but with central capacity: Allow opting-in for partners and participating organisations, but ensure capacity at a global level.
The more local the better: Use local languages, faces, issues and wording as much as possible to ensure the campaign links to the local everyday reality.
Build on existing structures: Leverage the strength of existing networks and relationships. Actively seek out opportunities to identify and use these networks.
Invest in national coalitions: Strong national coalitions can increase impact and reach. Leveraging networks, having a strong coordinator, involving youth and securing funding are important in building a coalition.
Plan, plan, plan and reflect: Start planning early and ensure there is time to reflect and learn from past activities.
Consider trade-offs in messaging: Notably between high-level messaging and specific, targeted messaging, and how this affects the diversity of participants and impact.
A united civil society is influential: It is able to speak with one voice and – between local, national, regional and global networks – has a tremendous reach.
Evaluation is information: Monitor and track consistently across countries and use systems for sharing success stories.
Early engagement and wide engagement makes a difference: Include a wide variety of actors early on in the process to design a truly global, inclusive and decentralised campaign.
Mobilisation is a means; political change is the end: The ultimate and only way to real change is influencing policy makers and decision-makers; mobilisation should be in service of this.