Political lobby: a big elephant that must be flexible as an octopus

Thomas_Barbey_surrealismo_4Throughout my articles on Diplomacy, advocacy, activism, citizen’s engagement, and reshape of global institutions  I address  some of the main pillars for achieving a system reform. However, there is one missing: lobby.

 It’s a power that –intentionally or not- is not delivering the expected results. There is too much investment on human and financial resources for getting to these poor results. Cities as Geneva and Brussels, capitals of lobby and exchange have become big elephants –networks- with uncoordinated feet –actions- that are not driven institutions into a steady and balanced process of transformation and robust work on advocacy/activism. As a result there is not a global strategy of lobby. Instead, projects coming from big and rusty institutions or modest actions from small organizations are the ones that succeed on bureaucratic terms but not on an in-depth reshape of policies.

In both Brussels and Geneva, institutions have gain power in local terms within a centralized structure and bureaucratic mechanisms that do not maximize its potential to pursue global goals and definitely not with a truly global impact and capacity to change. Is it true, within a world of multiple crises it becomes very challenging to achieve a coordinated lobby action.W hen there is too much centralization and sense of ownership it is just part of small strategies with short-term vision that helps them to keep their structures and status quo without innovation and sense of in-depth change of the system.

It doesn’t matter if the lobby activity is developed by small or big institutions what is absolutely essential is that are not dependent on the good will of their leaders, important financial budget or acknowledgment from big institutions.

A serious lobby demands a steady action and team members aware of their role as advocate leaders within the umbrella of a coordinated action, inside and outside the organization. Is it here where I identify another failure: there is not a coordinated action on lobby. Brussels or Geneva are models of what means no coordination: isolated projects, asphyxiated structures, experts that doesn’t allow joint action and a status quo that definitely cannot move forward  on political innovation.

Even if we move within a framework of artificial intelligence, just implementing innovation on technical aspects is not enough for a truly revolutionary and coordinated lobby movement. There is not need to create more structures but to innovate current traditional structures and the way they handle with their networks.If not, it’s a waste of time and resources without possibilities of creating a robust impact more than the own satisfaction and success of their members.

The roots of this failure its because there is an euphoria of creating structures that performs as substitutes of the real actors: citizens. Lobby institutions are representatives of the civil society and definitely should not become “eternal producers” of presenting projects according to budget prospections from big institutions within a strict, bureaucratic and closing procedure.

No sense of empowerment and an excess of confidence on institutions its what is making the citizenship rely too much on a system that is not moving forward but just running their own codes with more or less good actions or good leaders that carry on -almost personally- the charge of innovate.

 We need to avoid good will and enter strong and fiercely into the ground of lobby leadership supported by strong institutions and not tied up by bureaucratic lobby structures without coordination and harmonic descentralized links. There are preventing for a change of the system and paradoxically delivering a message of change without intention of moving forward and making steps towards an open and democratic lobby network.

We need strong lobby institutions; a big elephant with the flexibility of an octopus to cover a wide range of subjects, countries and crises and at the same time listen, share and get advice from a diverse, multicultural range of people and cultures. Current establishment has made of this basic activity a matter of personal leadership rather than an institutional position hunger for new ideas, projects and in the end, fulfillment of a common goal of joint action towards resilience.

The Political lobby cannot be part of an elitist group of influential people but an open and democratic network, although strategically coordinated and focused within an institutional-civil society- citizens framework.

Because advocacy/activism its a matter of Education, attitude and an in-depth change of culture in which citizens are active members of the political apparatus and not just “satellites” that only raise their voice when something goes wrong.

Lobby is one of that tools that need to be changed to make of it an accessible and democratic network, flexible enough to welcome all citizens and their projects and at the same time harmonically merged with traditional institutions. A modern octopus that moves effectively within Diplomacy, Advocacy and Leadership by making strong partnerships, embracing with resilience a coordinated action of diverse multicultural focus.




*Advocacy and Diplomacy: two sides of the same coin



*Educating on advocacy….



*Advocating for SDGs 16+17 Peace, Justice, strong institutions + Partnerships= Peacebuilding



*Picture: Thomas Barbey



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