NGOs and Environmental politics Research Paper

Generally, human beings attach great importance to the environment since their means of living and quality of life rely on it. As the environmental threats increases, so do the attempts to safeguard environmental values[1].

Environmental politics are interested in the manner in which individuals arrange themselves systematically and configure activities to defend their interest in the environment. It takes into account the vibrancy of social movements, organizations and state machineries, and how they work together[2].

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The subject of environmental conservation poses an exceptional test to politics. Among them is the transnational nature of the ecological trend. In other words, environmental processes go beyond national boundaries. For example, countries along the coastal line share the same waters and fish stocks[3].

Conflicts and apathy have often emerged due to disparities in regional or international environmental concerns and the current political structures and boundaries (Walters, 2004, p. 2).

The gains of economic development characteristically accrue to one country or region, yet the negative environmental impact of such development is normally transferred to another country or region, in terms of polluted air and water. This provides less motivation to control pollution from its origin. In addition, the administration may be less obliged to impose penalties on the industries concerned when it is clear that the pollution takes place outside their jurisdiction[4].

History has shown that political engagements in ecological affairs are capricious and diminishes with time, and development varies from additional to groundbreaking depending on the background and prospect[5]. One analyst once described the history of global environmental action as a target that appears impossible to achieve at the moment. For the above reasons, environmental politics have always relied strongly on chronological and case study analysis[6].

This research paper will explore the role played by (NGOs) in environmental matters and explain why they are the best to deal with global environmental challenges. First, the study will start by examining the chronology of NGOs in matters of environmental politics. The research will be based on different premises and concepts and key arguments between different authors and their academic positions.

The Chronology of environmentalist NGOs
In order to acknowledge the significance of NGO in global environmental actions it is important to understand what an NGO is because a wide range of entities exist. According to Hrabanski and others, organizations vary in accordance with the size, composition, sources of funds, beliefs, goals, operational scope and activities[7].

Dolak defines an NGO as private, non profit-making, professional entity with a , concerned with the general well being of the people and societal goals. Societal goal in this case relates to issues of environment, whereas characteristic official character relates refers to official registration[8].

The history of NGOs is somehow ambiguous. The first NGOs were created by elite conservationist in U.S and Europe to prevent extinction of certain animal species and to idealize environment[9]. They assumed an ethical politics of environmental change by emphasizing on how the environment is supposed to look like through art and literature and advocating for the conservation of natural ecosystem.

For example, Sutter shows in his description of the wilderness movement how the Americans in the early 20th century feared the use of automobiles in wilderness excursion. In other words, they feared that the use of automobiles will lead to exploration of remote areas and degradation of the forest. In addition, the creation of conservation NGOs reflected the societal response towards ecological destruction under the capitalism[10].

In the mid 20th century, the ecological concerns together with the emerging generational activists transformed the movement, thus providing a fresh meaning to NGOs. The new NGOs became green thinkers, which was ostensibly the organizational expression of political progress. Many literatures tended to analyze this new thinking in terms of green philosophy and often in a principled manner.

This is because NGOs formed during this era had to confront numerous environmental challenges. For example, Greenpeace (established in 1971 in Toronto, Canada) and Friends of the Earth (established in the late 1960s in U.S) captured the world attention in their campaigns to stop Whaling and proliferation of nuclear weapons respectively. In addition, those who were involved in such campaigns were very youthful, energetic and confrontational.

Generally, the new NGOs were viewed as an embodiment of radical forms of environmentalism. They started as small groups of protesters to become colossal global entities that fought nearly all environmental challenges. A number of authors catalogued how these NGOs had transformed into international protest organizations[11].

Many academicians shun such literatures; yet they often share the fundamental assumption regarding the dogmatic significance of these organizations as the foundation of contemporary environmentalism. Some of the writers have explained the growth in NGOs on political movements and demonstration influenced by models egalitarianism, mobilization of resources and traits of a social pressure group[12].

Nowadays, NGOs have changed in structure and practice. Most of their activities are currently centred on peoples means of living and acknowledging the linkage between people and the environment. The model examples are which have been vocal on matters pertaining to sustainable development. In addition, the current NGOs have usually played the role of civil society. For this reason, NGOs have become ideological actors that promote social justice and democracy[13].

A number of authors have probed the political innovativeness and vibrancy of the that advances novel forms of interaction between communities and the environment. Their studies acknowledge the significant role played by the NGO in the conservation and protection of international priceless ecological public goods. In addition, they recognize the role played by NGOs in the transformation of transnational relations through civil action and global environmental treaties[14].

Suitability of NGOs in environmental politics
Even though the arguments that the nation states are slowly losing their significance are impulsive, the influence of NGOs in the global arena is growing at an alarming rate. There is no other field of politics that NGOs have gained more influence than in the field of environmental politics. Many NGOs nowadays of resources and have a large pool of knowledgeable and very much trained professional staff. In addition, they have a huge network across the globe[15].

These NGOs wield massive influence on matters of public policy both locally and internationally. Whether these policies are in the form of the provision of clean water to local communities, investigating the environmental activities of large transnational corporations, or representing the interest of the underprivileged at major conferences, the role of the NGOs can no longer be ignored.

As a matter of fact, NGOs are exhibiting a growing eagerness to circumvent state structures to represent matters of great concern. They normally pick up where state actors have failed or are still hesitant[16].

Political and environmental experts foresee the role of NGOs in environmental politics increasing in the future[17]. In the last four decades, the world has witnessed an unprecedented increase in unconditional trade and in some cases the economic size of transnational corporations has surpassed the GDP of foreign countries in which they operate.

In the current competitive global market, some governments have appeared to bend investment laws to attract foreign investment, that is, they often embrace market-based and non-mandatory approaches. At the same time, external pressures to match the domestic standards and regulations with the international policies are increasing.

As a result, the reconciliation of these standards and regulations with environmental matters has become a major challenge for national government. Particularly, the management of the effects of trade and investment on the environment has become very challenging for less industrialized nations. This necessitates the role of NGOs in the global environmental protection[18].

Additionally, less developed economies are justifiably keen to attract foreign investors in their country, but feeble institutions and lack of political good will mean that environmental standards and regulations will not be strictly enforced. On a positive note, transnational corporations normally bring with them state of the art technologies which are more environmentally friendly than the local ones.

However, the tempo of economic transformation in the less developed economies is shocking and devastating in its effects[19]. Furthermore, environmental and development challenges facing the emerging economic powers like India and China is worrying the international community. At the moment, the Western nations are not certain of their future without the involvement of these countries in the global environmental protection and conservation[20].

The local and international courts have become a battleground between the NGOs and the government on environmental matters. Irritated over alleged backtracking by the regimes on environmental obligations, NGOs have often used the legal channel to pressurize the government to apply the current laws on environmental protection and more uncompromisingly take legal action against the lawbreakers. In addition, they have been using the courts as an arbitrator of crucial constitutional matters, for instance, the rights of citizens to clean environment[21].

According to Dobson, the government has taken several actions to tackle the current environmental challenges. In the 60s and 70s, the strategy used was based on stringent regulatory measures, where standards are set and implementation is backed by stern warnings. This approach proved to be successful and mainly relied on the use of eco-friendly technologies. However, with the competitive pressure of liberalization, governments were forced to come up with strategies that are bendable and less costly.

This is why the NGOs have recently become more popular since they make sure that the governments do not go to an extreme level in trying to woo the investors at the expense of environmental protection and conservation[22]. Last but not least, NGOs have recently adopted consumer boycotts as a strategy to amend organizational and statutory policies and some, for instance, Greenpeace, have set their own standards for certain products[23].

To sum up, the research paper was to a certain extent selective in its coverage-after all, environmental politics is a new but broad and complex subject. At the risk of trying to be as simple as possible, the study explored the NGO as an actor in environmental politics and their growing popularity in the environmental matters.

Nonetheless, NGOs also have a couple of flaws. A number of them have often used the public to attain cheap publicity. In addition, NGOs have been used to siphon money from foreign donors by corrupt individuals and terrorist organizations. All in all, the role played by the NGOs in socioeconomic, environmental, and political matters cannot be underestimated[24].

Over the last 50 years, environmental subjects have been in the central state of major discussions. This is attributed to the fact that human beings attach great importance to the environment since their means of living and quality of life rely on it. In addition, conflicts and apathy have often emerged due to disparities in regional or international environmental concerns and the current political structures and boundaries. As a result, attempts to safeguard environmental values have been on the increase.

There are numerous actors in the field of environmental politics; however, NGOs have become the most prominent. This is because they command huge amounts of resources, have a large pool of knowledgeable and well trained professional staff, and have a huge network across the globe. In addition, the NGOs normally represent the poor and underprivileged at the global arena.

Locally, the NGOs have gained popularity because they have taken the role of the civil society and currently acting as government watchdogs in socioeconomic, political, and environmental matters. In the current competitive global market, some governments tend to bend investment laws to attract foreign investment, that is, they often embrace market-based and non-mandatory approaches.

The NGOs make sure that the governments do not go to an extreme level trying to woo the investors at the expense of environmental protection and conservation. They have been driving their agenda in the street, in the forums and in the court of law. Even though they have been criticized from different quotas for a number of vices, the role played by NGOs in both local and global environmental politics cannot be underestimated.

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