The World Development Movement is a grassroots organization working to end poverty around the world by tackling the problem at its roots. Based in the UK, WDM has been working to solve the poverty issue for over 40 years, and is one of the most effective organizations for tackling some of the most controversial issues surrounding poverty. Kirsty Wright, WDM’s senior campaign officer, took the time to talk about some of the AMAZING victories WDM has had over the years. Be sure to visit their site and connect with them via Twitter and Facebook to learn more.
Can you explain what World Development Movement is and how it came to be the effective organization it is today?
The World Development Movement was set up in 1970 by a group of large well-known aid agencies and churches who felt they were not able to criticise the policies and actions of governments and corporations strongly enough to effect real change. To this day, we remain the most outspoken and radical anti-poverty campaigning organizations in the UK. We are admired by policy-makers and activists around the world for producing sound research on global poverty issues and for presenting practical ways to achieve our alternative vision of a fairer, more equal world. In a time of global recession caused by corporate greed and excess, our reputation for delivering timely, hard-hitting and effective campaigns is stronger than ever. We recognise that ending poverty can only be achieved by protecting the environment and that the earth’s limited resources must be shared equally to achieve economic justice. We want to see a radical shift in power balance so that the gap between rich and poor narrows and poor countries are granted the autonomy to find their own solutions to poverty. We work to achieve this change through direct lobbying and by exerting public pressure on governments and corporations to change harmful policies and actions.
What is your role with WDM?
I’m the senior campaigns officer – working specifically on the climate debt campaign. This means I use our research and translate it into concepts that people can understand, and help take meaningful action to create real long lasting change to the causes of poverty.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work with WDM?
I love the fact that I’m working for an organisation that really challenges the causes of poverty at their root, that is able to make meaningful long term and sustainable change that move beyond just dealing with the symptoms. I feel really privileged to work alongside some of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met – both from across the developing world, and our campaigners and groups members in the UK who campaign tirelessly for justice for the world’s poorest people.
What is the most moving moment you’ve had with WDM?
I’ve had many, but there are three that stand out the most for me.
The first was winning the campaign to stop Kingsnorth, a new coal fired power station in the UK that would have emitted more carbon dioxide than Ghana – this would have been the first new coal power station to be built in the UK for over 20 years that would have caused more carbon emission than the whole of Ghana. I heard that EON, the power company planning the campaign, had shelved the idea, via a text message at an event we were holding with local activists, who were motivated by a mixture of local concerns and the devastating impacts of climate change on people’s lives around the world. It was amazing watching a group of people who were all revved up to oppose the plan move form confusion, to disbelief, to celebration (when someone finally said “um, I think that’s a campaign success!”). The second was walking out of the UN conference on climate change. This is something that almost surprises me to say, as I know I never thought that walking out of a UN conference would have been something I would have done some years ago. But the UN process at the talks in Copenhagen last year was being completely sidelined, and there was so much bullying and bribery of rich countries. When it came to the second week, and especially after civil society was restricted fro entering the conference, we realised that we had to do something that would really get the world to stand up and take notice. It was an amazing experience walking out of the conference with people from all over the world, demanding climate justice and heading out to meet with people who were being blocked for even entering the building. And thirdly, there was Bolivia. I went to Bolivia for the people’s conference on climate change and mother earth rights earlier this year. Whilst I was there, I met with so many inspiring and incredible people, and really saw why climate change was an issue that we couldn’t ignore – though in the north, we tend to think of climate change as something that will be a problem in the future, its so clear how its already impacting people’s lives in real time. It was really fantastic to be able to meet with them, and hear about their issues, and knowing that I could take this back and do something with it when I returned to the UK that could really have an impact in the longer term.
Is there anything else we should know or understand about WDM?
We work in solidarity with southern campaigners to tackle the root cause of poverty to create long term change, rather than giving aid. We have a network of over 60 local campaigning groups around the UK who work with us to use a range of campaigning tactics, including public campaigning and parliamentary lobbying, and even though WDM is a small organisation, we have had some amazing victories in our 40 year history.
Whenever I hear politicians defending policies that are actually increasing injustice and suffering, I know that WDM will be on their case, confronting them and winning the argument
Anita Roddick (founder of the body shop, and activist)
WDM is an influential movement of people, committed to finding solutions to the root causes of world poverty. They are not afraid to deal with the issues head on. Join me by supporting WDM.
Benjamin Zephaniah (poet)
The people of the lesser developed countries has suffered so much. There are those who have tried to change this. I give thanks to WDM and its work.
Rev Desmond Tutu