Annual report 2008
The silver lining to the global economic crisis was a new openness to the kinds of alternative policies TNI has been working to promote for many years.
Message from the Director:
The global financial crisis and its fallout occupied much of TNI’s attention in 2008. Seeing the writing on the wall, we had dedicated our 2007 annual fellows’ meeting to the subject of the international financial system. TNI found itself well positioned when the news of the inevitable meltdown broke. In Beijing in October, TNI pulled together over 200 activist intellectuals to craft a response, which became the major point of reference for movements everywhere. Our <casinocrash.org> blog attracted thousands of people daily, and our fellows were in high demand to talk to the implications for the future of neo-liberal economics.
Meanwhile, in our role as ‘collective intellectual’, we tried to stay one step ahead by focusing our 2008 Fellows’ Meeting on the convergence of crises. We highlighted the intertwined crises of food, land, energy and climate and discussed the need for a framework that addresses them all. This means ditching neo-liberalism in favour of a green conversion oriented towards an equitable, sustainable development for all.
The silver lining to the global economic crisis was a new openness to the kinds of alternative policies TNI has been working for many years to promote. Our sustained critique of carbon trading served to highlight the false promise that one can save the planet by pursuing ‘business as usual’. Our work on European free trade agreements provided evidence as to why transnational corporations need to be regulated, and exposed the folly of the EU’s dogged pursuance of (especially financial) liberalisation in the face of the crisis. Now, many southern governments are resisting EU pressure as they rethink neo-liberal globalisation as the only feasible path to development. Our work in popularising and supporting practical alternatives to water privatisation bore fruit at both national and international policy level. We saw a major shift in favour of public solutions in India, and at EU and UN levels. Two new networks emerged to push this from below: the European Network for Public Water and the Latin American Public-Public Partnership Platform.
Meanwhile, the gross intensification of the war in Gaza and increasing instability in the bigger Middle East/Central Asian region was a matter of grave concern for our security analysts throughout the year. The ousting of George W Bush and the election of Barack Obama gave some initial cause for celebration, but more sober analyses fear that Afghanistan may become Obama’s war. This does not bode well for regional stability. Pakistan, in particular, was seen as a major trouble spot.
TNI had a productive year in 2008. We (co) published eleven reports, two DVDs and four new books, as well as updated translations of two previously published books. Our Fellows published ten books and 255 articles. Our publications were downloaded 61,500 times in 2008. TNI (co) organised a staggering 45 international events attended by 15,700 people. These took place in Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, UK, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden and the USA. Our other outreach statistics are impressive too, logging 16.6 million hits on our website (up 25%) and 8,693 subscribers to our biweekly newsletter (up 20%).
Improved media coverage was sustained throughout 2008, with TNI being cited 143 times, on all our key topics, in influential media across the world. This included articles disseminated by two of the key mainstream news agencies, Reuters and the Associated Press. We also reached the EU Observer regularly, as well as El Pais, The International Herald Tribune, USA Today, The Hindu and The Guardian. TNI also experimented with blogs for the first time. Both proved very popular – one on the Colombian conflict by Amira Armenta, and the other <Casinocrash.org> on the global financial crisis.
On the internal front, we were delighted to welcome Dr Jun Borras (Philippines/Canada) and Dr Gonzalo Berrón (Argentina/Brazil) to the fellowship. Meanwhile, Fellow Walden Bello did us proud in being honoured as Outstanding Public Scholar of the year by the International Studies Association’s Political Economy section. We welcomed to the staff, Lucía Goldfarb and Ernestine Jensema, while saying a fond goodbye to Gemma Galdón and Daniel Gomez. We were very grateful for the volunteer work of Arlette Ray, Els van de Ende and Susan Medeiros in 2008, and enjoyed the company of Örsan Senlap, Anna McNaught and Helen Vreedeveld who joined us for part of the year. Through our Samuel Rubin Next Generation programme, we hosted six interns who all worked very hard for various projects. We also supported the work of seven talented young researchers. Two were subsequently employed temporarily and a third was given a two-year to undertake research on agrofuels.
TNI has continued to refine its planning, monitoring and evaluation systems. For much of 2008, consultant Bob Thomson conducted an independent evaluation of perceptions of TNI’s work and value. He surveyed our 7,368 subscribers, and interviewed target organisations, partners, associates, fellows and staff. Subscribers – mainly academics, policy makers and activists –indicated great satisfaction with TNI’s outputs, while the others interviewed were highly complimentary regarding TNI’s role and work. The challenge now is how to build on the strengths that have been affirmed, and how to create the space for deeper reflection within the organisation.
On the financial front, we posted a positive result of Euro 185,000. Our income increased 27% to Euro 2.7 million, exceeding by 10% our co-financing target for the Dutch Development Co-operation Ministry grant, which ends this year. Ministry policy is currently changing. Indications are that as a relatively small network organisation focused on international policy change, TNI is unlikely to secure direct support in the next round of funding from 2011 onwards.
TNI has been in existence for 35 years and has never been as relevant or as productive as it is now. Our most recent evaluation demonstrates that TNI’s role in building transnational civil society coalitions, producing evidence-based arguments for policy changes, and providing vision is highly valued. Our challenge now is how to find the funds to sustain this work. We will need all the support we can get, and trust we can count on you!