Confronting climate change: a review of theoretical perspectives on environmental NGOs and their campaign effectiveness

Nina Hall, Ros Taplin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Non-government organisations (NGOs) make up an important component of social movements. Environmental issues are currently a dominant theme for NGOs in Australia, where environmental NGOs play an important role in raising the need for policy action on climate change. Climate policy in Australia is considered to be inadequate by many NGOs, and this suggests they have not fulfilled their aim of influencing effective policy action on climate change. Although there is an increasing analytical focus on the ‘third sector’ which encompasses NGOs, academic or other literature, research that analyses and critiques specific NGO campaigns with relevance to climate change is somewhat limited. This paper canvasses a range of social movement literature to identify theories and explanations that illuminate both the obstacles and opportunities facing contemporary NGO climate change campaigns. The most relevant theories relate to the school of new social movements on values and paradigms, incrementalism, pressure groups, discourse, organizations, and the Movement Action Plan. These add to academic understanding of the ability of social movements to direct political attention and community concern to environmental issues, and could contribute to advising directions for climate change campaigns by environmental NGOs in Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    JournalGriffith journal of the environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • Australia
    • climate change
    • non-government organizations
    • social movement theory


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