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A Conceptual Framework for the CCIC Learning Circle on " NGO Engagement with the Private Sector on a Global Agenda to End Poverty"

Based on ideas from the first CCIC meeting to discuss the draft concept paper for the learning circle, we are proposing to use the following approach to analyse and assess the complex issues involved in NGOs engagement with the private sector.

Since our ultimate goal as a sector is to create a global agenda to end poverty, then we must work to ensure that our engagements positively impact on this goal. As a result, we suggest that the learning circle framework be guided by the overarching question: " Does NGOs’ engagement with the private sector contribute to ensure that corporate behaviour has a positive impact on the global agenda to end poverty?".

During the learning circle, as we examine the different ways NGOs have been engaging with the private sector or with individual corporation to attain that goal, participants will analyse and assess the challenges/impacts for NGOs’ values, mission, roles, and program. To make this task easier and manageable, and in setting out this framework in an initial issues paper and in the organisation of the first workshop, we will start from three core "paths" that seem to summarise involvement up to now by NGOs:

  1. Advocacy and the promotion of appropriate national / multilateral regulation. ( RAFI’s campaign on corporate control of seed technology, or NGO campaigns on the MAI);
  2. Direct dialogue with individual corporations or corporations in sectors (voluntary codes of conduct, Ethical Trade Initiative, Stakeholder dialogue); and
  3. Corporate partnership (programming social partnership/strategic alliances with private sector)

Although these three categories are well differentiated from each other in terms of NGO goals and strategies, there are some elements from each that in some cases could be overlapping. A typical example, may be an NGO that work with corporations to develop voluntary codes. In some cases it could also provide monitoring services for the implementation of these codes, which are paid by the corporation, while also encouraging government to regulate a baseline of standards.

In addition, some NGOs could simultaneously be engaged with one corporation using different approaches (advocacy/dialogue/partnership). The dynamics or synergies among their different ways of engagements might add value or undermine the impacts of their work or campaigns vis a vis the corporation. The learning circle will look at these synergies and will identify common and cross cutting issues for the three paths.

Throughout the learning circle, participants will reflect on basic assumptions about how change happens to affect poverty. They will draw out the issues and lessons learned from the different experiences of engagement they have had with the private sector; will identify the key issues for ending poverty involved in those relations, and will contribute to policy strategies that ensure the ultimately goal is attained.

To guide the initial work leading up to the first workshop, a consultant will write an issue paper based on this framework, the concept paper, and discussions of key questions by the learning circle reference group. The issues paper in turn will help determine the process for the first workshop


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