Strategic plan Five-year planning: 2021-2025

This strategy document presents the Transnational Institute’s vision of the direction the Institute intends to pursue programmatically and organisationally over the next five years, 2021-2025.

For nearly 50 years, TNI has worked at the nexus of research, activism, and advocacy. We have built an organisation that has stood the test of time, and are immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve and the reputation we have earned.

TNI believes a different world is possible, and that successful social movements are critical to bringing about enduring change hence the focus of our mission on serving as a knowledge resource for movements. We identified three key conditions for success of movements: an incisive analysis of what is wrong with the current system, and clear ideas for what to do about it; communicating these ideas popularly such that they have high impact by inspiring broad-based social support that can transform political power. In effect, these are the overarching goals we have set for ourselves for the next five years.

We have drafted our five-year strategy for achieving these goals in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and at a critical juncture – both for the struggles that TNI supports, and for our organisation. In so doing, we consulted extensively with all stakeholders within TNI, as well as with allies and funders, as to the priority directions for TNI in light of our sense of the current threats and opportunities, as well as perceptions of our strengths and weaknesses as an organisation.

Our vision of “an equitable, democratic and peaceful world in which all life may flourish” was reconfirmed, as was our mission to serve as a knowledge resource for social movements. With respect to the latter, two complementary characterisations of TNI crystallised: as a source of knowledge for advocacy, and as a think tank for social movements. To a large extent, this mirrors the role of our programmes, which primarily produce knowledge for advocacy, and the role of our Knowledge Hub unit through which we hope to connect the dots across our programmes, increase our capacity to see the big picture and think ahead.

Our context analysis focused mainly on widespread concern about the climate crisis, the bankruptcy of neoliberalism exposed during the pandemic, and the extent of institutionalised corporate power whereby profit is protected over social and environmental well-being. We saw a window of opportunity to grow our social movements by channelling popular discontent towards inspiring visions of what could be a better system, and concrete proposals for getting there. We also saw the urgency of doing so as a counter-force to what was on offer from rightwing populists and authoritarians. This will see us investing more in the development and popularisation of bold and feasible propositions that can serve as the markers of a pathway to systemic transformation, even as we continue to expose what is wrong with the current system.

Thematically, we will focus our work on corporate power, just transitions and collective security, with a feminist and intersectional lens applied wherever possible.

Internally, the next five years will be a period of consolidation and regeneration, geared for equipping TNI to meet the challenges and opportunities of the shifting international political context. We have set two major goals – to strengthen our capacity to play the think tank role for movements, and to address the institutional challenges that have accompanied TNI’s recent growth. We are fortunate to have secured a major five-year grant, which we can leverage with other funders to enable us to meet our ambitions.

In 2024, TNI will mark half a century as a unique space for the interface of activists and activist-scholars. We hope to be around for another half century to serve and transnationally connect up the progressive social movements of contemporary times. This plan helps us clarify our priorities to do just this.

– Fiona Dove, Executive Director

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