Annual report 2007

23 September 2008
Annual report

It seems the mainstream media has finally caught onto the value of TNI as a source of reliable, relevant information on a range of issues of global importance.

It seems the mainstream media has finally caught onto the value of TNI as a source of reliable, relevant information on a range of issues of global importance. After years of scant press coverage, we logged nearly one item citing us every other day. This included The New York Times (four times!), The New Yorker, The Washington Times, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times, The Independent, The Sunday Observer, Nature, The New Scientist, The Guardian, The Hindu and the Jakarta Post to name just some of the most widely read influential. Unique visits to our website more than doubled to over half a million, logging 15 million hits in 2007. Subscribers to our biweekly newsletter increased by 42 per cent to 7,241 loyal readers, and we recorded 77,000 downloads of our publications.

In light of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 and the run-up to the UN’s Climate Change summit in Bali, the press was paying significantly more attention to climate change issues. Nearly a third of the media coverage we received was for our work in this area, in par-
ticular our focus on the myth of achieving carbon neutrality through offset and other carbon trading schemes, and the controversial issue of agrofuels. With the uprising in Burma and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, TNI’s critical work on the negative impact of opium eradication efforts was also widely read and influential.

The other major success of the year was a major policy breakthrough regarding water delivery issues. There are now signs that the pro-privatisation position on water delivery in the South has been challenged to the extent that it is buckling. Under pressure from TNI and its partners in the Reclaim Public Water (RPW) network, Europe’s Development Commissioner finally backed down on an exclusively pro-privatisation approach, publicly committing to Public-Public Partnerships (PuPs). This was followed by a similar policy change on the part of the Dutch Ministry for Development. TNI has been promoting PuPs for the past few years as an alternative to privatisation, facilitating pilot projects between Argentina and Peru in 2007.

During our tour of India to launch the Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil editions of the RPW book, Reclaiming Public Water, The Hindu – one of India’s largest newspapers – gave significant coverage of PuPs and remunicipalisation as viable alternatives to privatisation. Meanwhile, TNI’s network succeeded in persuading the Norwegian and Italian governments to withdraw from the World Bank’s controversial Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility that funds consultants to advise poor country governments on how to privatise key public sectors, including water. A further feather in our cap was the recognition of the RPW network as a key partner in UN Habitat’s newly launched Global Water Operator Partnership Alliance.

As the fall out from the US’ sub-prime mortgage crisis began to manifest globally, with even Germany’s Chancellor expressing concern about unregulated financial capital at the G8 summit, TNI’s chosen topic for its annual Fellows’ Meeting was well timed. We discussed the dangers of unregulated financial capital – the global economic instability it wreaks, and how the fiscal crises created by tax avoidance justify neo-liberal approaches to the provision of public goods and services. The meeting debated mechanisms for global regulation and proposals for securing universal pensions. TNI was privileged to hear from experts like Robin Blackburn, and Sony Kapoor, Sol Picciotto and John Christensen from the Tax Justice Network.

TNI organised fifty-six international workshops in the course of the year, involving an estimated 9,125 people. The events took place in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Porto Alegre, Lima, Bogotá, Quito, Bali, Seoul, Kyoto, Beijing, nine cities in India, Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, London, Brussels, Amsterdam and The Hague. We also undertook a number of field trips to Afghanistan, Burma, Pakistan and China in the course of the year, and organised a cinema caravan across Portugal and Spain.

TNI was involved in the co-founding of three new networks in 2007. The Reclaim Participatory Democracy network was established at an international meeting in Porto Alegre. The Africa Water Network was launched in Johannesburg with 35 delegates from 17 different African countries. The No Bases Network was launched at a major congress in Quito attended by over 400 delegates from 40 countries.

TNI published one new book, republished one other, and published five translated editions of a third. We also produced thirteen booklets, and brought out two videos. Our Fellows published three books and 322 articles. As regards our staff and fellows, we said a fond goodbye to staffers Nathalie van Eijsden, Mariël Otten, Daniel Kollmer, Roeline Knottnerus, and welcomed our new network engineer, Albi Janssen. Antony Otieno Ong'ayo also joined us temporarily, playing an important role in facilitating TNI’s participation at the World Social Forum in Kenya. To the fellowship, we were delighted to welcome Dr Edgardo Lander, Professor of Social Sciences at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. Through our Next Generation programme, we hosted four wonderful interns, who all worked very hard and served as our rays of sunshine for much of the year. We also supported the work of nine talented young researchers. Eighty-five percent of the candidates were women and a majority hail from the South.

Towards the end of the year, TNI embarked on an independent evaluation process, commissioning a consultant to take a hard look at evidence of TNI’s impact and external perceptions of the Institute. We began benchmarking and strategic foresighting exercises. We plan to complete the processes in early 2008.

Our financial situation was healthy, with an income of Euro 2,120,400, up 11 per cent on the previous year. We posted a positive result of Euro 120,274. The final year is now approaching of a major broad programme grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so securing sufficient funding to maintain our current size and levels of activity is a major challenge now facing TNI. It has been a most satisfying year, and my warmest thanks, as always, go to our ever-generous funders, our dedicated fellows and staff and our partners and friends across the world.

Fiona Dove
Director

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