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Annual review 2013

02 July 2014

August 2013 marked STWR’s 10th anniversary and signalled the beginning of a new phase in the organisation’s work. Campaigning for economic sharing is now at the forefront of STWR’s activities, and our research program has been reoriented to support this goal.

As a key first step, a new and improved website was launched in December to focus on explaining the ‘what, why and how’ of economic sharing, and to provide an online hub for publishing sharing-related blogs, articles, news and reports. A new organisational strategy has also been implemented, which will soon see the launch of a campaign statement as a central feature of STWR’s advocacy work in 2014 and beyond. Other activities throughout the year included various talks, presentations and interviews given to a diverse range of audiences, as well as the publication of a number of articles and essays on the themes of economic sharing and global social justice.

A renewed emphasis on campaigning

Having established ourselves as a research and advocacy organisation, the upcoming years have the potential to be of major significance to STWR for a number of reasons. There is a growing recognition of our work within the global justice movement; rising support for the principle of sharing among progressive campaigners working in diverse fields; a steadily deteriorating global outlook; and a massive increase in the number of ordinary people taking to the streets to demand social and economic justice around the world.

For these reasons, and as STWR’s 10th anniversary approached in 2013, the directors undertook a detailed re-examination of the organisation’s overall strategy and the future course of our activities.

It was unanimously agreed to reposition STWR as a campaign organisation and embark on a new phase of activity that can take STWR forward over the course of the next 5 years. The key elements of this strategy are as follows:

  • Place campaigning at the heart of STWR’s work: As a first step, a campaign statement will be launched soon that individuals and organisations can actively endorse through our new website.
  • Increase our output of reports on economic sharing: In order to support the campaign initiative, a series of reports/briefs will explicate what economic sharing is and how it can be applied as a solution to many of the crises we face as an international community.
  • Step-up our outreach work: Our research and campaign will be actively communicated through various presentations, workshops, articles, blogs, and other activities.
  • Generate financial support from the general public: In both the short and long-term future, we aim to be able to generate public financing for our ongoing activities.

A campaign statement

As detailed in a forthcoming campaign strategy document, STWR’s overall objective is to influence public opinion on the need to implement economic sharing as a solution to a wide range of pressing global crises – from life-threatening poverty and extreme inequality, to climate change and conflict over natural resources. Launching a campaign statement will help us to progressively generate support for our work among our target audiences over a number of years, enabling us to help shape the emerging debate on the need for greater economic sharing and to engage more directly with NGOs and policymakers around the world. Our long-term goal is not to see a particular policy or set of policies implemented, but to mobilise a diverse movement that advocates for sharing resources more equitably and sustainably, both within and between countries.

As an advocacy tool, collecting endorsements for a campaign statement from individuals and organisations can help generate and demonstrate concrete public support for economic sharing. An excellent example of a similar strategy can be seen in the work of CASSE (the Centre for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy), which has had a measurable impact in shaping the public debate on the limitations of pursing economic growth on a finite planet. In a similar way, a significant increase in support for STWR’s campaign statement can help raise our profile, add weight to our position on economic sharing, and make it easier to influence public opinion.  

However, mobilising a global movement for economic sharing with the power to influence policy discourse at national and international levels will eventually require tens of thousands of signatures. Although this is clearly a tall order for any organisation, the strength of a campaign for economic sharing lies in the fact that it cuts across many interconnected global justice issues and can potentially mobilise support among a wide range of campaigners who might not otherwise unite on a common platform for change.

A new website: www.sharing.org

STWR’s new website was officially launched in December 2013 under a new domain (www.sharing.org), which was acquired earlier in the year. The old website will remain active until February 2014 to allow sufficient time for visitors and supporters to be made aware of the new web address, after which it will be taken offline.

A significant feature of the new site, and one of the main reasons for its development, is its emphasis on sharing-related content written by STWR staff. The ‘external’ content published on our old website has not been transferred to the new site, as it is generally available elsewhere. Most of the content on STWR’s new website is therefore unique to the organisation, which helps to distinguish us from other websites and helps to clarify the nature of our work and activities.

The ‘what, why and how’ of economic sharing

The main navigational structure on the new site is designed to provide visitors with a basic understanding of what we mean by economic sharing, why it is now so urgent that nations find new ways of sharing global resources, and how economic sharing can be applied as a solution to converging planetary crises.

Together, these introductory pages constitute a comprehensive overview of issues that are central to our work. The text also provides the context and justification for the points set out in the upcoming campaign statement, as well as forming the basis of our future reports that will expand on many of the themes we highlight. As outlined below, this text will also be published as a fully referenced brief once the campaign statement has been launched.

Additional navigation links also provide information and further resources for those who wish to learn more and get involved in campaigning on the various issues we refer to in the text. An ‘information centre’ provides a portal for those who wish to access our full range of news, articles, blogs and reports, and these can all be filtered through a number of unique categories such as ‘sharing in action’ or ‘the people’s voice’. 

In designing the new website, particular attention was paid to reducing the ‘text-heavy’ appearance that characterised the old site; we opted instead for an open and airy design that would appear more accessible to potential supporters. The use of images portraying poverty in the developing world have been eschewed in favour of images that reflect our broader messages and focus on public engagement and campaigning.

The initial feedback we have received since going live with the website has been very positive, with only a few people expressing their concern that external content from the old site will no longer be accessible. A major challenge in the months ahead will be to increase visitor numbers to the new website and improve our google ranking, but a strategy is already in place to facilitate this.

Talks, presentations and interviews

Over the course of 2013, STWR presented a number of talks and interviews to a wide range of audiences including:

  • A talk on the theme of ‘Earth rights and sharing world resources’ at the School of Economic Science library meeting, 11th January 2013, organised by Alanna Hartzok (co-director of Earth Rights Institute) and David Triggs (Chairman of the Henry George Foundation).
  • Globalnet 21 webinar, February 2013: STWR internet discussion on the theme ‘Sharing as a Solution to Global Crises’.
  • Interview by WereldDelen magazine, May 2013: ‘Sharing as a Solution’.
  • Our Sacred Journey interview with Audrey Kitagawa on VoiceAmerica Radio: A New Economic Paradigm: Sharing The World’s Resources
  • School of Economic Science annual colloquium, 23rd June 2013: STWR conducted a presentation entitled ‘Is Sharing a Solution?’ and partook in a lively panel discussion with the other speakers.
  • A presentation at the International Union for Land Value Taxation conference on 25th July 2013, held at The School of Economic Science in London. The theme of the day was 'Sharing the Commons', hosted as part of a 5-day conference under the heading: 'Economics for Conscious Evolution'.

Plans for 2014-15

In line with STWR’s revised and updated campaign strategy, the following areas will constitute our primary focus over the course of the next 18 months.

Launching the campaign

Now that STWR’s new website is live, the priority for early 2014 is to finalise and launch an online statement that represents our broader campaign objects and enables individuals and organisations to endorse our position on global economic sharing. This initiative should galvanise our activities over the next 5 years and will be accompanied by a detailed campaign strategy, which is being formulated with expert assistance from The Pressure Group – an organisation that provides consultancy for advocacy organisations.

The campaign statement will be integrated prominently within the existing website, enabling individuals and organisations to endorse our position on global economic sharing. Signatures will be available to view online, which will enable us to keep track of our support as it grows over the coming months and years. Particular attention will be paid to keeping our supporters engaged and committed to the cause.

All of STWR’s other activities highlighted below will be geared to support the objectives of the campaign by raising our profile as an organisation, presenting a stronger case for economic sharing, and generating concrete support for the campaign through additional signatories to the campaign statement.

Research and publications

STWR’s research activities over 2014/2015 will focus on publishing a series of evidence-based documents that support our position on the need to share the world’s resources. These publications will aim to build on the existing website text and provide a more detailed exploration of sharing-related issues. The briefs will be written in an accessible and engaging style, published online and communicated widely to existing and potential supporters.

Priority areas for this research include providing more information about the need for an international program of emergency relief to end life-threatening poverty; highlighting the need for universal social protection to be scaled up across the world; providing further evidence and examples of ways in which natural resources can be shared by the international community; and outlining the role that democratic governance can play in reforming the global economy and regulating economic sharing.

As mentioned above, the introductory ‘what, why and how’ text on the new website will be also be published as a substantial report once the campaign statement has been launched. The aim is to include this statement within the publication so that the document provides all the information a potential supporter might need to endorse the campaign. It is likely that the document will be physically printed and widely distributed, especially at events attended by STWR staff and volunteers. 

Another important publication in 2014/15 will be a book compiling a series of articles by STWR’s founder, Mohammed Mesbahi. Building on a number of recent dialogues and forthcoming publications, the book will continue to explore the nature of the principle of sharing from both philosophical and political-economic perspectives. Previous publications by Mohammed can be accessed here.

Articles, blogs, presentations and networking

We will also continue to write blogs and articles on more wide-ranging, sharing-related themes with the aim of addressing contemporary issues as they arise. Such commentary will enable us to engage more directly in public debates and demonstrate how current issues are often closely related to the themes that concern our advocacy work. This additional content will also enable us to update the website regularly, which will help to increase visitor numbers and campaign endorsements.  

STWR already has a significant presence on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a sizable list of subscribers to our newsletter. In 2014, we will continue to use our social networks to highlight relevant external content and regularly post updates when we publish new blogs, articles or reports. Similarly, our newsletter subscribers will receive immediate alerts to highlight new publications, and regular updates about the campaign as support grows.

Where appropriate, we will also continue to accept requests to present our work in public or to specific groups or organisation. In line with our campaign strategy, a central aim of these presentations will be to encourage those present to support the campaign by adding their signature to the petition. Arranging face-to-face meetings with representatives from NGOs and other public figures who might be sympathetic to STWR is also likely to play an important role in our work in the coming months.