The behaviour of green NGOs in the developing word resembles foreign adventurism: arrogant, reckless, and exploitative.
Just in time for Earth Hour this coming Saturday – that annual feel-good, accomplish-little World Wildlife Fund (WWF) event – a news story in the Jakarta Globe quotes Firman Subagyo, the head of the forestry commission for that country’s House of Representatives:
Foreign NGOs like the WWF are like thieves visiting our homes to steal our treasures without us realizing it. The NGO’s arrogance has impacted our weakened industrial competitiveness overseas, which will [in the] end worsen Indonesia’s economy. [bold added, backed up here]
It seems the WWF took responsibility for helping to slow deforestation in a particular part of that country, but matters haven’t gone according to plan. The article quotes Ir. Darori, the director general for forest protection:
We will evaluate [the WWF’s work]. If it proves to have no benefit, we will terminate the partnership.
The willful blindness of groups such as the WWF and Greenpeace toward economically struggling nations around the globe is breathtaking. Their own, narrow agenda is the only thing that matters to these activists. The welfare of ordinary people who reside in those countries doesn’t make it onto their radar (see a discussion of Mexico and Poland in this context).
History is unlikely to be kind to green NGOs. Their behaviour in the developing world is starting to look a great deal like foreign adventurism. They aren’t just arrogant – they’re reckless, exploitative, and anti-democratic.
They presume to know, better than local populations, what decisions should be made and what policies should be pursued. Moreover, they don’t hesitate to trash a country’s international reputation on the thinnest, most petty of grounds.
Some burning questions need to be asked:
- To whom is the WWF accountable?
- To whom do we complain if we think that organization is behaving immorally?
- What mechanisms are in place to keep tabs on an organization that, according to a recent research paper, “runs about 1,300 projects at one time in more than 100 different countries”
Each of us will make our own decision about whether to participate in Earth Hour events this year. People who are tempted to do so may wish to reflect on the fact that in many countries in which the WWF has a presence, most people are poor and ill-educated.
They aren’t remotely on an equal footing with an NGO that employs 5,000 people worldwide and has an annual budget of hundreds of millions. What chance do such people have of being heard?
JustConservation.org alleges that multinational green NGOs are also linked to human rights abuses