AUN’s functioning follows religiously the following thumb rules:
By respecting the leadership role of government, but be prepared to use our voice and influence: By working closely with government on the development of policy can lead to better policy and more impactful outcomes, and the resources and levers of government can also be critical to the effective implementation of policy at scale. But when governments fall short, or do not live up to their commitments, civil society and business Joint Advocacy have a responsibility to hold governments to account.
By putting the interests of people and planet at the heart of advocacy collaboration: Joint Advocacy should reflect the interests and needs of people, communities and the environment. Whilst public policy change can unlock benefits and opportunities for advocating organizations, the ultimate beneficiaries should be people and planet.
By investing sufficient resources at the outset to gather data and evidence to build a shared understanding of the challenge and inform policy priorities: Investing time and resources to ensure policy advocacy is underpinned by credible, consensus-based data and evidence is essential, for example using science-based data and targets as a foundation for advocating on climate change goals or health data baselines for advocating on public health or nutrition policies. Underpinning a policy argument with what science or operational evidence demonstrates is necessary for tackling an issue or set of issues, and ensuring it is accessible to non-specialist decision makers, helps to unite stakeholders around a shared understanding of priorities, builds trust and creates demand for a collective response.
Taking the time up front to clarify the specific desired policy outcome is also essential. Being clear on the destination but being more flexible on how to reach it can lead to stronger engagement and greater support. Careful attention should be paid to calibrating the level of goal specificity and policy detail without diminishing the overall impact of advocacy.
When advocating together around long-term, systemic challenges, organizations should break down long-term policy goals into more specific short- and medium-term targets and milestones to maintain a sense of achievement and momentum amongst policy makers and advocacy partners.
By understanding and managing stakeholder dynamics and the political economy of policy change: Before activating advocacy activities, partners need to pay careful attention to including the perspectives and priorities of all stakeholder groups and policy makers, and to building familiarity and trust-based relationships to enable them to then move on to designing and advocating solutions together.
By ensuring coherence and consistency between external advocacy positions and internal policies and practices: Businesses participating in advocacy collaboration need to ensure that there is complete consistency between their external advocacy positions and activities, and business strategies, investments, policies and practices in their core operations and value chains. Similarly, civil society organizations need to ensure that joint advocacy with a company, or group of companies, is fully consistent with their overarching strategy and theory of change, and that time is taken up front to “socialize” joint advocacy and validate policy asks with colleagues in campaigning or policy roles. Similar to large companies, large international NGOs need to take care to align global, national and local advocacy efforts.
By conducting advocacy collaboration transparently and in a spirit of mutuality, good faith and accountability: Organizations need to be clear and transparent on their motivations and expectations for engaging in advocacy collaboration from the start.
At the same time, advocacy collaboration also needs to be conducted in a spirit of good faith, honesty and openness, regardless of the eventual outcome.
Organizations need to establish a clear actionable policy for managing conflicts of interest, be open and transparent about funding and governance arrangements and put in place credible dispute resolution and accountability mechanisms.